Yesterday might have been significant – historically significant – as the Eagles seek to regain relevance.
Sunday's Snow Bowl victory over the visiting Lions is the sort of win that, in hindsight, can indicate a team's true potential. The Lions are a viable contender, a club of strengths still atop the NFC North. This was a big game in a big moment for both teams.
In the Eagles' situation, wins like Sunday's answer questions about what is being built, or rebuilt, or whether what exists should be sustained.
If the Eagles make the playoffs this season and become a force in the league beyond this year, and if the Chip Kelly Experience revolutionizes how offenses operate, yesterday will mark the tipping point.
The Lions entered 7-5, just like the Eagles. Eight inches of snowfall started at about 2 hours before the game and continued through halftime, creating a quicksand surface that effectively nullified the teams' deep passing games until the snow finally stopped.
The Birds trailed by 14 points in the third quarter but outscored Detroit, 34-7, and rolled to 8-5. They did so by riding their best player, Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, while enduring struggles by their most important player, second-year quarterback Nick Foles.
These types of games happen only once a decade or so. Others come close, but the Eagles haven't had one since 2000.
Dec. 19, 2010: The Eagles turned a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit into a 7-point win over the host Giants, a game that put the Eagles in the playoffs and seemed to validate the in-season elevation of Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb, as well as the offseason dismissal of aging, expensive Donovan McNabb, the best quarterback in team history. As it turns out, it was, perhaps, false validation. The Giants and Eagles each were 9-4 entering the game.
Dec. 28, 2008: The Eagles beat up Tony Romo and stifled Terrell Owens and the visiting Cowboys, 44-6, as things fell just right to allow the Birds to sneak into the playoffs at 9-6-1. With Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid teetering on exile, this playoff berth and the resulting run to the NFC title game helped McNabb and Reid extract a few more games and (a few more million bucks) from the franchise they guided to its golden era. They Cowboys fell to 9-7 and out of the postseason.
Nov. 26, 2000: Second-year quarterback Donovan McNabb ran for a 16-yard touchdown and romped for 54 yards to set up the winning field goal against the host Redskins, who were 7-5 at the time. The Birds moved to 9-4 and made the playoffs after a 3-year drought, which led to their first playoff win in 4 years.
So, really, it has been 13 years since these conditions existed: When a young quarterback and an unproven coach gave the city reason to expect competence, if not excellence, for several years to come. Intriguingly, the condition could replicate itself twice more this month.
Minnesota is lousy, so next week's trip cannot serve as the same sort of indicator.