I woke up unusually early on Sunday, February 4. As I looked up at the ceiling, I just had to pinch myself. Were my Eagles actually going to play in the big game? My life as an Eagles fan can be measured by my jerseys, from the tiny McNabb jersey that I wore as a one-year-old to the Wentz jersey I put on for this epic day. I am a hardcore Eagles fan who has been with them through thick and thin. It's been mostly thin. But I stay with them. My morning was spent watching the pregame festivities and playing Madden Mobile on my phone. From the time I woke up, I began to get nervous for the Eagles as if I were taking the field myself. Could my team actually win? Would it be a blowout win for the Patriots? The last time the Eagles played in the postseason was in 2013, when Nick Foles and the Legion of Zoom led them to the wild card round of the playoffs. I remember that loss and what it meant to me. I stopped wearing my jersey until the next season, but I always stayed loyal and never considered jumping ship. The question was: How long would I have to wait? I tried to put all negative thoughts out of my mind and enjoy the reality that the team that I have defended and stuck with was going to be in the Super Bowl.
Everything about this day would directly be connected to the Eagles, starting with my delicious Wawa hoagie, which came in an Eagles wrapper. Later in the afternoon, I had an indoor soccer game, which was great because it temporarily took my mind off of my Super Bowl nerves. My team won 10-1 and as much as I love the ride home after a victory, I found myself staring out the window worrying about the Eagles. The word underdog kept coming to my mind. Even though I was thrilled for the game, I still was scared because I knew the Patriots were going to put up a great fight too. I also kept thinking about my grandfather who died long before I was born. He was a huge Eagles fan. He would be so excited for this day.
In keeping with the theme of the day, my brother made a huge bowl of guacamole. We made it because it is great Super Bowl food in general and it is green! I was afraid to do anything crazy like painting my face green in fear of jinxing the team. I ate more chips and guacamole than I could count, mostly out of nerves. At 6:30 sharp, it was time. I noticed my mother walking in and out of our family room and acting rather strangely. While she is not the biggest football fan, she comes from Philadelphia and a family of Eagles fans. Before kickoff, she confessed that the last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl in 2005, and I was a baby strapped in my car seat in front of the television. She recounted the end of the game and how it did not work out for the Eagles. I thought to myself, “Shhhh! Do you have to be telling me this now?”
It was time for the underdogs to show their resilience. They had gone through multiple injuries throughout the course of the season, but they still were standing strong and confident. After three seasons of falling short of the playoffs (and me being devastated), the Eagles made it. They defeated the Falcons and the Vikings to make it to their first Super Bowl in 13 years. I waited for a very long time, but it was worth it. My whole family had their Eagles attire on as we watched the kickoff and dove into the guac. I was relieved to see the Birds start off with an aggressive offense. Jake Elliott made a field goal to start it off at 3-0. With 2:34 left in the first quarter, Nick Foles threw a 34 yard pass to Alshon Jeffery for the first touchdown in Super Bowl LII. As the first quarter concluded, the Bird Gang was ahead 9-3. At this point, my nerves were beginning to lighten up and I was beginning to think of the possibility of a Super Bowl win, even if just for a split second.
Almost halfway through the second quarter, LeGarrette Blount had a 21 yard run for a touchdown. With 2:04 left in the first half, James White broke straight through the Eagles defense for a touchdown. When the Eagles regained possession of the ball with 0:34 left in the half, they did the unthinkable. A trick play. The ball was snapped to Corey Clement, then handed off to Trey Burton. He then threw the ball to Foles for the first receiving touchdown caught by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. This bold move showed what this organization is all about: going for it at all costs.
Almost three minutes into the third quarter, Tom Brady threw to Gronk for a touchdown. The Eagles were still ahead, but things were feeling a bit shaky. Later in the quarter, Foles passed to Clement for a touchdown. Immediately, there was controversy over both his feet not being in the end zone. While the referees were reviewing the play, I was chewing on my nails and my mother left the room out of superstition. They ruled it a touchdown. By the end of the third quarter, the Birds were up 29-26. Their first ever Super Bowl title felt so close, yet so far away. Those negative thoughts started creeping in. I told them to get out of my head!
Early in the fourth quarter, Elliott scored a 42 yard field goal. This put us up 32-26. My jubilance came to an end when Gronk scored another touchdown. This made the game 33-32, Patriots winning. This was not good, but I still believed in the Bird Gang. They had come way too far to back down. They were hungry. With 2:21 left in the game, Foles through the ball to Ertz who then dove into the end zone. Then, the referees had to review the play. I jumped off my couch in anger. I thought, “How would they not think it was a touchdown? He got the ball in the end zone and kept possession!” After the official review, they ruled it a touchdown. My family started screaming, “Ertz! Ertz! Ertz!” There was one problem, though. There was still a little bit more than two minutes left in the game and the Patriots had the ball. I was thinking, “Uh oh. Need to start praying hard! Please, we do not need to repeat history from 2005.” Brady has made multiple comebacks before and I knew he was planning on making another one. On third down, the ball was snapped to Brady, as he looked for someone to pass to. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham came out of nowhere and tomahawked the ball out of Brady’s hands. When the ball hit the ground, Derek Barnett, a rookie, recovered it. Phew! Still, they had to score a touchdown to fully secure a win. They were only able to score a field goal. This made it so the Eagles were winning 41-33. Brady still had a chance. One touchdown and a two-point conversion could have put the game into overtime. It all boiled down to the point where there was about 10 seconds left in the game. We all feared Brady’s dreaded Hail Mary. The ball was snapped to Brady. He attempted to bomb a Hail Mary down the field to Gronk. The scariest moment was when that ball was in the air. When it came down, the Eagles batted it out. The clock ran out. The Birds did it! They made history with their first ever Super Bowl title! My whole family jumped off the couch and ran into the cold outside. This was a very important moment for my family because we had always been Eagles fans. We had to face disappointment in 2005 and it has been a long wait since then. People were lighting fireworks and we could hear people screaming at the top of their lungs, “GO BIRDS!” The win was a real triumph. I took a moment in all of this and realized what it was to me to be an Eagles fan. It was about staying the course and not losing faith.
The celebration continued into school the next day. Everybody was wearing Eagles attire. This unexpected victory was the topic of the day. It was great to talk about the Super Bowl with my friends because they are all Birds fans too.
A month and a half before, everyone doubted the Eagles when Wentz was injured. The whole team had been through so much to get to this point. Foles almost retired in 2015 because he almost lost interest in the game. He did not quit because he believed in himself. The same goes for the entire team.
In my opinion, the Eagles won because they wanted it more. They were hungry and they were not willing to back down without a fight. They made history! From now on, they will not be known as the underdogs. They will be known as the world champions.
Photographs (from top): Patrick Smith/Getty Images; Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images (2)