It’s 2nd & 10 and there’s 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter in the playoff game between the Eagles and Saints. Philadelphia burst out of the gate with a Cre’Von LeBlanc interception, but a much healthier Saints team eventually caught up and surpassed the Eagles, holding a 20-14 lead. Nick Foles and the offense trotted onto the field several plays ago with mixed success and a roughing the passer penalty moving them forward 15 yards. A Touchdown wins it and Doug Pederson knows he has the entire 2 minute drill to work with. But just as it was looking like the Eagles could spring a surprise, something terrible happened.
Alshon Jeffery tipped a surefire catch into the air, and it landed painstakingly into the hands of Marshon Lattimore, securing a win for the New Orleans Saints. It was a shattering moment. But what would have happened if the Eagles had gone on to win that game? Could they have really gone all the way?
The next game
As sadistically pleasing as it was watching the Saints go on to lose in overtime after a dismal fourth quarter, there was a part of every Eagles fan who would’ve felt the script would’ve been different had it been their team lining up opposite of McVay’s men.
The L.A. Rams have not beaten the Philadelphia Eagles since 2004. The Eagles have put up 73 points against them across their last two outings, neither of which featured Carson Wentz for the entire game. McVay is yet to beat the Eagles. Goff is yet to beat the Eagles. Donald is yet to beat the Eagles.
I really feel like the energy carried from the ‘double doink’ and a stunning walkoff touchdown against the Saints would’ve sparked a 2017 Minnesota-like win here. The Eagles should’ve waltzed into the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl
Instead of the most boring Super Bowl in recent memory, the Eagles and Patriots go at it for the second time in as many years on the grandest stage of all. Still living rent-free in the head of Tom Brady, the Eagles would either go into this matchup with another miracle in mind, or the injuries would finally catch up to them against one of the NFL’s greatest coaching minds.
It’s honestly really hard to envision how this game would go, but is it really that farfetched to imagine the Eagles winning it all for the second year in a row, ending the Patriots dynasty and starting a totally new one?
Even in 2019, when the Eagles were again (shock) banged up beyond belief, they still somehow went stride for stride with the Pats in a 17-10 regular season loss. These two teams just seem to bring the best out of each other and it’s always a spectacle to watch.
I feel like that game would’ve had such a different atmosphere for an Eagles team who were not only running on the energy of Nick Foles and his ‘shrine’ in the locker room, but now feeding off of that underdog mentality once more – something that almost felt invisible through 2018. ‘Targets on the back’ didn’t work and the Eagles lost their identity in bizzare choked losses. It wasn’t until they had been knocked down a few pegs that they really got their breath back and rediscovered that underdog persona.
As heartbreaking as it is for me to write this, the Eagles would’ve won the Super Bowl that year, in my opinion. The stars would’ve been too perfectly aligned for that not to happen.
The one that got away.
The Foles vs Wentz debates of the 2018 offseason were absolutely terrible, but could you imagine if Foles had won a SECOND SUPER BOWL?! The end result would’ve likely been the same. Foles would’ve been allowed to walk (tag and trades just don’t work and it was never viable) but the aftermath and impact on Wentz himself may have been totally different.
We thought the anonymous sources were bad before, this team may well have suffered an absolute meltdown in 2019 if the same instances occurred (as if they didn’t anyway). This wouldn’t be beyond fixable. Doug Pederson has a unique way of galvanizing a locker room in the face of adversity. Wentz would still receive his mega deal and the show would go on, but maybe his individual fire would burn a little brighter.
The obvious difference here though would be the NFL Draft. Would the Eagles have traded up from pick 32 to grab Andre Dillard? Probably not. Kaleb McGary may well have been a target a little later on in the round, but he allowed 13 sacks as a rookie so…
Would Miles Sanders have been available? Well, yes. Pick 53 was from the Ravens so technically, the Eagles could still grab their franchise-changing running back which is a MASSIVE deal as we now know.
As for J.J Arcega-Whiteside, he may get replaced with…DK Metcalf? Oh no. It’s happening. This article is going to make me cry.
In fact, both Miller and Thorson would’ve likely also been drafted because of the nature of those picks (one being a compensatory and the other, well, being Clayton Thorson).
I really don’t think 2019 would’ve been that different had the Eagles won a second Super Bowl, other than the fact that they might not have imploded because of the atmosphere around the team. Dare I say a
Have I just outlined a parallel universe we all want to live in? Yes. Sorry. But at least we can all have a happy daydream now.
Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports