The day after
My mom, my dad, my best friend.. in the past 12 hours they’ve all asked me the same question in one form or another, “Are you okay?”
It’s a reasonable question given the end of what many Eagles fan had convinced ourselves was a season where finally we would finally see our beloved Birds hoist the Lombardi Trophy. A team of destiny, I kept saying following last week’s win over the Giants. But it was not meant to be.
At halftime, I sat at my desk at the Gazette, my feet on the desk, knees bunched against my chest and sat in stunned silence. “How could this be happening?” I thought. Sure, I had given Arizona more of a chance than anyone else and knew that it wasn’t a good thing that many thought this was a lock for my Eagles. Just bad karma. After all, I thought, this was a team that laid it on a wildly overrated Carolina team just a week before. They were playing inspired football and playing in a stadium with 7,000 extra seats. This was not a lock, I thought, but never prepared myself for Larry Fitzgerald’s three touchdown first half and the complelte inability of a Jim Johnson defense that had carried us this far to stop anything Cards offensive coordinator Todd Haley threw at them. Still, I was hopeful.
“I’m so depressed,” my girlfriend said at the half. Still, I reassured her, that the game wasn’t over. The Eagles had withstood the Cardinals’ first half blitzkrieg and couldn’t play worse in the second half. Besides, the Cardinals offense was given up the intermediate routes on defense, a fact that was very much to the advantage of the Eagles speedy, undersized receiving corps.
And then it happened. Jim Johnson started bringing men off the corners. Consecutive three and outs. The Eagles offense got its footing against an atrocious Cardinals defense. I watched as DeSean Jackson tipped the ball to himself and strutted into the end zone. I couldn’t believe it. We were winning.
Fade to black.
We all know what happened after that. The clock had struck midnight and this team of destiny appeared fated to end yet another season one game away from The Big One. Still, as I watched Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhut run across the field, saying, “We Did It.” I didn’t throw anything or cry or curse or call for Andy Reid’s coach or the end of the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia (he still gives us the best chance to win). I took a deep breath and put my Eagles stuff away, tucking it away until Draft Day, when hope springs eternal for every fan.
What more could I have asked from my team? Faced with a 21-point halftime deficit, they refused to give up, refused to stop believing in one another and gave everything they had. And came up short.
I’m not going to sulk or pout or say that I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl now (even though I think everyone would agree that the Cardinals and the Steelers are not the two best teams in the league by a long shot — still think a college football playoff is a good idea?), no instead, I’m going to watch the game with a passive interest and look forward to next year.
There’s always next year. Fly Eagles Fly.