There was nothing else. A blanket of slate clouds shrouded the sun
and blue sky. The misty fog which enveloped Lincoln Financial Field
veiled most of the already irrelevant outside world. For those fans
like myself sitting in the lower levels, not even the parking lot or
other newly constructed sporting venues were visible. There was just
this. No worrying about grocery shopping; no fantasizing of love
interests; no wallowing in thoughts of returning to work the following
morning. None of that mattered to those who had convened upon the stone
sanctuary at 3501 South Broad Street. It would be sacrilegious for
disciples of the Eagles to divert even an ounce of energy away from the
It was my first pilgrimage to the most sacred 120 yards of grass
(endzone inclusive) in Philadelphia city limits. A light rain beat
steadily on a volatile sea of emerald green and white jerseys, prone to
erupt with even the slightest provocation—good or bad. I was crowded
and wet, just like my fellow 69,142 game-goers who disregarded the
forewarning of showers to watch the Eagles do battle with the division
rival Washington Redskins.
I was overwhelmed. To watch the game at a Philly sports bar is to
witness a reformed sect of a religion. To journey to the holy ground
was to witness the devout perform their cultish rituals as they were
originally conceived. It was joining the tediously repetitive sitting,
then standing for the play, then sitting again. It was learning the
sacred touchdown celebration song, “Fly Eagles Fly,” after Donovan
McNabb connected with Donte Stallworth for a dynamite 84-yard score in
the first quarter. It was seeing over 100,000 arms synchronously thrust
in the air to the screaming chant of “E-A-G-L-E-S—EAGLES,” after
Correll Buckhalter ran teammate Reggie Brown’s fumble-lateral into the
endzone, extending Philadelphia’s lead to 17-0.
At that point, the game was already over. The Redskins All-Pro
running back Clinton Portis had left the game in the first quarter
after suffering a broken hand. Philadelphia’s defense managed the rest
of Washington’s hindered run game, and shut down the pass attack,
highlighted by Sheldon Brown returning an interception 70 yards for a
touchdown in the third quarter. Meanwhile, a more balanced Eagles
offensive attack under the play-calling of offensive coordinator Marty
Mornhinweg saw McNabb throw for 222 yards and one touchdown, with Brian
Westbrook contribute 113 yards on the ground. David Akers added two
field goals in what ultimately ended in a 27-3 Philadelphia triumph.
With the win, the Eagles move back above the .500 mark to 5-4, and
Coach Andy Reid remains undefeated at 8-0 in games following bye weeks.
Looking to remain in playoff contention, the Birds now prepare to host
the lowly Tennessee Titans, who nearly upset another group of birds,
the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens, before falling 27-26.
I will be rejoining the patrons of Cavanaugh’s Restaurant and Bar for that game.