Snowy comeback is an instant classic
Trailing in the third quarter by 14-0 on a snow-covered field, the Eagles beat the Detroit Lions, 34-20.
THE COIN TOSS was held at midfield, as usual - except that everybody was kind of guessing exactly where midfield was, given the snow and everything, and except that referee Ed Hochuli had to toss the coin twice because, as he had warned before the first one, "If it lands on an angle, I will flip it again."
It will all be part of the tale. It will be one moment in the story of a game that the Eagles will never forget.
"Most of us have never played in anything close to that," guard Evan Mathis said, on a day when the Eagles overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter as well as 8 inches of snow on the field, and not necessarily in that order.
"It was quite the experience," Mathis said. "It's easy to say it's quite the experience after getting a win out of it."
Down the hall, the Detroit Lions were basking in no such memories. It is like that when you lose. There is no majesty in such a freakish meteorological moment when you are on the wrong side of a 34-20 score. Yesterday, the Lions were just cold and wet.
They could not enjoy what the Eagles enjoyed. They could not share the feelings that the Eagles will share for as long as they know each other - of resourcefulness and of survival. Or, as wide receiver Riley Cooper said, "How could you be prepared for this? It was fun. It was a fun football game. Everybody thought it was so wild and crazy - we just had fun with it. It was like I was a little kid."
You know how, at this time of year, there is the simple, charming image of the snow globe to warm your day? A little village, a snowman, a Christmas tree beneath the glass; a quick shake, a gentle shower of snow, timeless beauty.
What they never tell you is what it looks like when somebody knocks the snow globe off of the table, and how the thing explodes when it hits, and how it leaves a sharp, wet mess all over the floor.
That was what was at stake in this game, played in conditions that were occasionally paralyzing. The Lions are the team searching for a broom and dustpan. The Eagles are the team that will forever cherish the memory.
"This is something like you dream about being a kid, being from California," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "It's sunny all the time. It's barely raining. As a kid, growing up, I used to dream: one day, playing in some snow, slide around, have some fun, do crazy things. From the start of the game to the end of the game, that's a crazy forecast - but we were able to weather our own storm and get it done."
The forecast, as we all know, was for a little precipitation, for winter's first belch and nothing more. But it was snowing pretty steadily by about 11:30 am. The markings on the field were starting to get covered at noon. There were already a couple of inches on the field at the 1 p.m. kickoff, with the yard lines only visible because of a squadron of guys with shovels and gas-powered blowers.
Visibility in the first quarter was so bad that linebacker Connor Barwin said the Lions had the advantage because their white jerseys made them harder to see. Really. But even before that, Barwin said he knew he was playing in a game he would never forget.
"We said that from the beginning," Barwin said. "We were out there messing around [during warmups] and we said, 'Let's make this a special one.' Because you're always going to remember this game, playing in this kind of weather. So let's make sure we remember it being a win."
If you watched the whole thing, you saw stuff you might never see again. The Lions fumbled seven times, mostly on snaps that quarterback Matthew Stafford could not hold. A kickoff took two bounces and died in the snow at the 10-yard line. DeSean Jackson fielded a punt without bothering to remove his hands from the warmer he wore on his belt, just watching it bounce and die. The Lions called a timeout solely to allow players to clear some snow away before they tried an extra point (which was blocked).
And in the end, the Eagles scored an astounding 28 points in the fourth quarter and LeSean McCoy ran for a team-record 217 yards. Even Chris Polk got onto the scoresheet, running for 38 yards with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter.
"This was my first time," Polk said, about playing in the snow. "Something I can tell the kids. Glad we won it."
It makes the story so much better, after all.
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