As the final seconds ticked down in Sunday’s wacky wildcard between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field, a text arrived from my eldest daughter in Boulder, Colorado.
Her angst was palpable, probably similar to feelings shared by anxious New Orleans Saints fans everywhere.
“Who should I be pulling for? asked Katie, an unabashed dyed in the wool Who Dat supporter.
A Bears win would send the Dallas Cowboys to New Orleans in the divisional round. An Eagles win would earn them a trip to the Big Easy and send the Cowboys to LA to face the Rams.
Before I could respond to Katie, Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed a potential game-winning field goal attempt from 43 yards with 10 seconds left, enabling the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles to put the exclamation point on a stunning 16-15 upset.
This was no ordinary errant FG attempt. Hardly.
The end-over-end ball doinked off the left upright, then bounced off the crossbar and back into the playing field, triggering pandemonium on the Eagles sideline and silencing the sold-out partisan crowd. A member of Philly’s kick-block team, Treyvon Hester, tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage though the deflection was not discernible in real time.
After letting the moment sink in, I texted Katie: OMG! I didn’t know what else to say.
Thus, the No. 6-seed Eagles (10-7) live to fight another game, advancing to Sunday’s divisional round against the heavily favored top-seeded Saints (3:40 p.m. FOX) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints opened as 8-to-9 point favorites in most betting houses, reflecting their dominance at home and overall superiority.
But these are not the same Eagles who were embarrassed by the Saints at the Superdome in Week 11, losing 48-7 and seemingly in danger of self-destructing at 4-6 under coach Doug Pederson. They have righted the ship, winning six of their last seven games, including Sunday’s wildcard with Super Bowl LII MVP and backup quarterback Nick Foles under center and former Saints Darren Sproles, Malcolm Jenkins and Boston Scott lending assistance.
Since Foles replaced injured starter Carson Wentz in Week 15, the Eagles are 4-0 and embracing their role as underdogs just as they did a year ago en route to winning the NFC and upsetting the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Based on Sunday’s improbable tip-doink-clank finish in the Windy City, who’s to say there weren’t football angels flapping their wings in the end zone at Soldier Field helping the serendipitous Eagles survive and advance.
I don’t believe in divine intervention. But I do believe in karma, destiny and fate, and Foles and the Eagles are leading a charmed existence.
Reality sets in Sunday.