PHILADELPHIA — Dog masks danced on the shoulders of inebriated souls, while balled-up fists pounded the press-box glass in unabashed, unbridled, overwhelming elation.
This was their time. This was their moment. And for once, the hopes of an entire city didn't wither under the bright lights of postseason play. Instead, the Eagles, underdogs in their own back yard, proved that backup quarterbacks actually can be a godsend and that Philadelphia fans are neither cursed nor unlucky.
Behind a surgical passing performance by Nick Foles, a masterful defensive effort led by defensive end Chris Long and a pair of touchdown catches by wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles cruised to a 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings to advance to the Super Bowl, where they will face quarterback Tom Brady and the defending champion New England Patriots.
"We're not surprised at all," Long said during the on-field postgame trophy presentation. "We don't panic. We just keep grinding."
A trip to Minnesota, the site of Super Bowl LII, and defensive bragging rights were on the line Sunday. So, too, was Foles's reputation in many respects.
The team that lost its rising star, quarterback Carson Wentz, was supposed to falter long ago. And the city of Philadelphia and its legion of loyal but tortured fans were expected to taste bitter disappointment yet again. But Foles and Co. had other plans.
The Eagles quarterback was 26 for 33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He also had a 141.4 passer rating.
"He was amazing," running back LeGarrette Blount said of Foles. "Resilient. Kept his poise. Composed. Dropping dimes left and right. We expected him to come out there and play this type of game."
They tried to tell us. All week long, the Eagles warned us not to discount them. But so many did anyway. And they quickly were proved wrong Sunday.
Save for the Vikings' nine-play, 75-yard drive to open the first quarter that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to a wide-open Kyle Rudolph, the Eagles' stifling defense was too much to withstand.
With his team trailing 7-0, Long brought pressure on Keenum and hit the quarterback's arm on his release. The ball was intercepted by cornerback Patrick Robinson who — thanks to a selfless body-block by teammate Ronald Darby — was able to scamper 50 yards to the end zone to tie the score at 7.
The Eagles then went on to score another 31 unanswered points.
Blount barreled 11 yards into the end zone to make it 14-7 in the second quarter, followed by a 53-yard touchdown pass from Foles to Jeffery later in the frame. The avalanche only continued from there, with Foles looking poised and self-assured in the pocket.
Keenum, meanwhile, finished the game 28 for 48 for 271 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions, posting a 63.8 passer rating. He also was strip-sacked by defensive end Derek Barnett, whom the Eagles drafted in the first round last April with the pick they received from the Vikings in a trade for quarterback Sam Bradford.
Eagles fans took turns mocking the Vikings' beloved "Skol" chant, mimicking the same rhythmic clapping above their heads. And with more than 13 minutes left to play and the Eagles holding a comfortable 38-7 advantage, fans at Lincoln Financial Field turned their attention to their new target.
"We. Want. Brady! We. Want. Brady!" they cried out in unison, referring to the Patriots' future Hall of Fame quarterback who engineered a 24-20 come-from-behind victory over the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.
"We're not done yet," Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry said. ". . . We've just got to embrace this moment. Let us enjoy this first. It's for the city, for [Eagles owner Jeffrey] Lurie, everyone who put the hard work in this season."
The Patriots are the favorite in Minneapolis, the site of Super Bowl LII. But being overlooked isn't anything new for the Eagles.
"He's definitely the greatest quarterback of all time, but that doesn't mean he's unbeatable," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said of Brady. "We've got a destination that we're getting to, no matter who's in front of us."
Added Robinson: "All week, a lot of guys have been doubting us, but that didn't faze us. So to go out there and win the way we did, it feels great."