Andrew Devicaris never lost faith.
If 14 years of life and Eagles fandom had taught the Mount Laurel teenager anything, he said, it was never give up on his team.
And while other fans hooted, hollered, cheered and chanted Sunday as the Eagles secured a long-shot playoff berth with their shutout victory over the Washington Redskins — and a welcome assist from the Chicago Bears — Devicaris remained the picture of poise.
He’s been certain from the start of the season, he said: “We’re going to win the Super Bowl again.”
Not all of the 3,000-plus other fans who packed Xfinity Live! to watch the game were as confident. The season’s earlier setbacks had put their team in a position where it not only had to win Sunday but also count on the Bears to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in order to keep Philadelphia’s hopes alive of a return trip to the Super Bowl and a chance to defend its title. (A Vikings victory would have denied the Eagles a postseason berth.)
Even as an Eagles victory appeared assured in the second half, Nathan Sicola, 27, of Philadelphia, nervously turned his attention to the Bears-Vikings game playing out on a neighboring big-screen TV.
“Who would have thought back in September that I’d be paying more attention to the Bears' last game of the regular season than the Eagles?” he said.
Victor Rossini, 50, of Oreland, described himself as an “all-in fan” but one who remained only cautiously optimistic at halftime.
“The New Orleans game was a disappointment,” he said, referring to the team’s 48-7 loss to the Saints last month — the worst by a defending Super Bowl champion in the league’s history. “But it seemed like it lit a spark under them, and they’ve been doing better ever since.”
But if there was any doubt about the Eagles’ postseason chances going into Sunday, you wouldn’t have known it from Vinnie Butler’s reaction just minutes into the first quarter.
His phone held aloft as he FaceTimed with his daughter, a toddler at home Sunday night in New Jersey, he jumped, shouted, and screamed as if a repeat Super Bowl victory had already happened.
“My in-laws are Giants fans,” explained Butler, 48. “I have to win her over. The Eagles can do no wrong in my eyes after last year, but I have to show her the energy and the excitement.”
Two-year-old Hadley Boardman needed no such parental encouragement. Dressed in a bright-green Eagles T-shirt, she bobbed and cheered along with her father, Bobby Boardman, 32, of Birdsboro, as backup quarterback Nick Foles started off with a strong performance in what might have been his last game with the Eagles had the team not won its playoff spot.
Despite the hero status he’s earned in Philadelphia over the last two seasons, Foles is considered almost certain to leave the team next season.
“He’s going to have an awesome job somewhere else,” Boardman said. But even now with Foles’ Eagles tenure extended for at least one game more, Boardman wasn’t ready to get his hopes up just yet.
“I’m fine with them just making the playoffs,” he said. “Who wins back-to-back Super Bowls, anyway?”