I’ve lived around the world and can say with authority that there are no more passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable, and even crazy sports fans anywhere. The only sporting event I’ve attended where the frenzy rivaled an Eagles game against a divisional opponent might be the testimonial soccer match honoring Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That may have had more to do with the packed beyond-capacity stadium shaking so hard that I thought it would collapse. I remember thinking about being lost in the rubble with 50,000 others and how poorly I spoke Spanish.

A few years ago, my family and I moved from the City of Brotherly Love to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where temperatures will remain below zero most of this week (it’s -12 as I write this, and no, that’s not the wind chill). The wind chill (-21 now) will reach -35 some nights. In addition to the considerably milder winters, we miss good hoagies, real cheesesteaks, friends, and Philly sports.

READ MORE — Andy Bloom: You paid how much for Eagles playoff tickets?

I’ve told my friends here that Eagles fans in Philly (I was still there in 2018) knew the Vikings would get trounced when Vikings fans rolled into town and put Vikings colors on the Rocky statue. To paraphrase a song written by the late Upper Darby native Jim Croce:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger and 

You don’t mess around with the Rocky Statue.

49ers fans didn’t get the message. Eagles fans probably knew with a high degree of certainty how the game would end as soon as they heard that 49ers fans had desecrated the Rocky statue, again.

It’s been an amazing year for Philadelphia sports fans. The Phillies returned to post-season play after missing the playoffs for ten consecutive seasons. Their Cinderella story took them to game six of the World Series.

But football is what Philadelphia sports fans have lived in and died by for generations. Now the Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl. It’s an extraordinary feat for a city to see its baseball and football teams reach the World Series and Super Bowl in the same season. By my count, this will be the “lucky” thirteenth time out of 57 Super Bowl seasons.

Philly becomes the fourth city to see its teams reach the championships the same year a second time, joining Boston, New York (which required three franchises to accomplish the feat), and San Francisco. Three cities have experienced both teams winning championships in the same year: Baltimore (1970), Pittsburgh (1979), New York (1986), and Boston — which is the only city to do it twice (2004 and 2018).

YearWorld SeriesSuper Bowl
2022Philadelphia Phillies (L)Philadelphia Eagles (?)
2020Tampa Bay Rays (L)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (W)
2018Boston Red Sox (W)New England Patriots (W)
2018Los Angeles Dodgers (L)Los Angeles Rams (L)
2012San Francisco Giants (W)San Francisco 49ers L)
2007Boston Red Sox (W)New England Patriots (L)
2004Boston Red Sox (W)New England Patriots (W)
2000New York Yankees (W)New York Giants (L)
1989San Francisco Giants (L)San Francisco (W)
1986New York Mets (W)New York Giants (W)
1980Philadelphia Phillies (W)Philadelphia Eagles (L)
1979Pittsburgh Pirates (W)Pittsburgh Steelers (W)
1970Baltimore Orioles (W)Baltimore Colts (W)

The Eagles destroyed the New York Giants by 31 points in the divisional round. Sunday, in the NFC conference championship, they beat the San Francisco 49ers convincingly by 24. I saw a statistic that the last four teams to win both their divisional and conference championship games by at least 21 points went on to win the Super Bowl. Those teams included the ‘78 Steelers of Iron Curtain defense fame, the ‘85 Bears — considered by many to be the best defense ever — and the ‘89 and ‘90 49ers. That’s heady company.

Some national sports shows were discounting the Eagles win because the 49ers ended the game without a quarterback who could throw the ball. Instead of cheapening the win, it demonstrates the Eagles’ superiority. The 49ers were manhandled, outplayed, and outcoached. The 49ers had won twelve consecutive games before running into the Eagles’ buzz saw.

Before the NFC championship game, 49ers QB Brock Purdy was undefeated as a starter. The media practically had him replacing Joe Montana in 49ers lore. Purdy began his NFL career as “Mr. Irrelevant,” and that’s how his season ended. From the first time, he dropped back to throw against the Eagles; it was clear this was the day he would turn back into a pumpkin. Purdy added intrigue to the 49ers. I hope his injury isn’t serious and he recovers completely in time for next season. 

Kyle Shanahan is in his sixth season as a head coach in the NFL. He’s already had one Super Bowl appearance. He’s one of the most hyped coaches in the league. He was one of three NFL Coach of the Year finalists, along with Brian Daboll (Giants — who the Eagles beat three times) and Doug Pederson (who the Eagles also beat this year). Nick Sirianni wasn’t, but the other three won’t have an opportunity to hoist the Lombardi trophy. 

Shanahan is also supposed to be a quarterback whisperer. So it’s puzzling that Shanahan left a backup tight end, Tyler Kroft, alone to block Haason Reddick (tied for second in the league for sacks). On the 49ers fifth offensive play, Reddick blew by Kroft unimpeded. As Purdy tried to get the pass away, Reddick slapped at the ball, hitting and injuring his elbow. 

Josh Johnson was Purdy’s understudy for Shanahan to go into an NFC championship game with him as the backup quarterback tells you a lot about the coach’s mindset. Johnson was also knocked out with a concussion in the third quarter, leaving Purdy with a buster flipper to hand off the ball for the rest of the game.

I have confidence the Eagles will bring home their second Lombardi trophy, and the city will have another parade. Can somebody save a place for my son and I?

The 69,879 in attendance at the Linc made a lot of noise, making it difficult to get signals in. Three of the 49ers’ eleven penalties were for delay of game. Most of their other penalties were for mental errors or losing their cool, including Shanahan.

Shanahan took issue with the officiating at several points. It caused him to lose control and make other poor decisions. I also took exception with the officiating. Was it necessary to see the ball hit the camera guide wire on the replay? Each Eagles player simultaneously and instantaneously reacted to the punt. The ball’s direction made it clear that it had deflected in mid-air. Not since JFKs “magic bullet” have the rules of physics been altered to allow an object to change course the way that punt did. By the end of the third quarter, the 49ers were getting away with throwing Eagles players down and shoving them when they were already out of bounds. Many could easily have been called personal fouls.

But here’s the ultimate reason the Eagles won: the 49ers were supposed to have the best defense, giving up an average of about 16 points a game. It was supposed to be IMPOSSIBLE to run on them. They gave up an average of 77.7 yards rushing per game. In eleven games, they gave up 70 or fewer rushing yards matching the 2010 Steelers and 2000 Ravens record.

The Eagles ran for 148 yards en route to hanging 31 points on the 49ers. The 2022 NFL sack leader and Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, was last seen on a milk carton — but was hardly mentioned during the game. While the 49ers’ QBs were injured, the defense was beaten, not injured.

If San Francisco had lost 17–7, their whining about losing a QB might have some validity — IF Shanahan could explain the blocking scheme. Even then, they would have to explain how the eleven penalties were something other than sloppy undisciplined play led by a coach who had lost control early on.

The only area where the 49ers were better was perhaps punting. 

And so now it’s on to Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, between the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. This game has more storylines than “Game of Thrones.”

  • Andy Reid vs. the Eagles — This story has so many subplots it could fill the two weeks by itself. 
  • The Kelce Brothers — The first brothers to play against one another in a Super Bowl. We saw the Phillies’ Aaron Nola play against his brother, Austin, in the NLCS this fall. 
  • At a combined age of 51.92 years, Mahomes and Hurts will be the youngest duo of QBs to start a Super Bowl — just beating out Marino and Montana, who were 51.96 years old in 1984.
  • Hurts will be the seventh youngest QB to start a Super Bowl.
  • It will be the first time two African American QBs start a Super Bowl.
  • It’s the first time the number one seed in both conferences will meet in the Super Bowl since Super Bowl LII, Philadelphia’s favorite “Big Game,” when the Eagles beat the Patriots five years ago.
  • Philadelphia leads the NFL in sacks with 70. Kansas City is second with 55. Haason Reddick is tied for second with 16, followed by Kansas City’s Chris Jones with 15.5. 

I have confidence the Eagles will bring home their second Lombardi trophy, and the city will have another parade. Can somebody save a place for my son and I? We want to come back and join the festivities!

Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at andy@andybloom.com or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.

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