PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles embraced the underdog function.
Boy, did they embrace it.
A lot so pair of veterans, proper sort out Lane Johnson and defensive finish Chris Lengthy, went out and acquired canine masks — German shepherd masks, to be exact — to sport pregame as a way to get into full character within the days main as much as the sport.
“Me and Chris Lengthy had been speaking [at lunch], and all people’s calling us underdogs, so hey, let’s go get us a canine masks,” Johnson mentioned. “That is what we did.”
The sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons entered Saturday’s divisional-round recreation in Philadelphia as three-point favorites. It was the primary time in NFL historical past prime seed was not favored in its first postseason recreation.
The group pounced on this angle, taking part in up the concept that they had been being disrespected. They even hung up copies of analyst predictions to point out how many individuals had been siding with the Falcons.
Philly used that edge to assist combat previous Atlanta, 15-10, and into the NFC Championship recreation.
“When did Carson [Wentz] go down? Since that time, nobody’s given us an opportunity,” mentioned coach Doug Pederson. “I perceive Carson’s a fantastic participant, however each week our guys are listening to the identical factor. Now, hastily, we’re not ok? We’re 13-Three, finest file in soccer, house area benefit all through.
“The fellows are gonna inspire themselves based mostly on what they’ve heard for the final month. It actually does not matter what you guys discuss, as a result of (our) locker room is united. I am going to go to bat for each a type of guys; I am going to go to conflict for each a type of guys in that dressing room.”
The lack of Wentz definitely factored into the questions in regards to the Eagles’ playoff viability, as did the shaky play of his substitute, Nick Foles, to shut out the common season. The offense was up and down in opposition to Atlanta and located the tip zone simply as soon as, however was backed by a lightweight’s-out protection that got here up with an enormous stand within the shadow of their finish zone to shut the sport.
The Eagles advance in consequence, and await the winner of Sunday’s recreation between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. They will have homefield benefit as soon as once more and positively earned some respect by taking good care of the Falcons, however Johnson’s holding onto the canine masks simply in case.
“I might think about we’re most likely not going to be favored subsequent week, both,” he mentioned. “At this level within the season it actually do not matter, it is anyone’s recreation.”