According to the movie “The Polar Express,” the only way to tell if someone is a believer in Santa Claus is if he/she hears the bell when it’s shaken.
The bells are ringing loud and clear in Eagles Country.
Everyone believes in Saint Nick.
With each passing game, with each passing record, with each victory, Nick Foles has added to his legion of supporters.
That’s especially true in the Eagles’ locker room, where defensive end Chris Long’s makeshift shrine to their quarterback has apparently developed special powers.
“I am never going to disagree with Nick Foles,” defensive end Michael Bennett said. “The football gods will look down on me and shun me from success. So whatever Nick says is the truth.”
There really does seem to be some divine intervention at work.
How else to explain what has happened in recent weeks?
The Eagles entered the final week of the regular season needing a win over Washington and a Minnesota loss to Chicago. Piece of cake.
They appeared headed for a loss to the Bears in the first round of the playoffs, only to win 16-15 because backup defensive tackle Treyvon Hester managed to deflect Cody Parkey’s field goal just enough to cause it to kiss off the upright and bounce off the crossbar.
If Hester had gotten a manicure before the game, the Eagles’ season would be over.
“I didn’t think I had gotten enough of (the ball),” Hester said. “Then I heard the reaction of the crowd and saw the team running out (onto the field). It was a surprise. I couldn’t believe it really happened.”
There is something about this Eagles team that defies explanation, that extends beyond logic, statistics and point spreads.
Three-fourths of the starting secondary is wearing knee braces and casts. The replacements include cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, who was headed home to Florida after getting cut by Detroit when the Eagles called him in early November.
“I had never heard of Cre’Von LeBlanc before,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.
Running backs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement are on Injured Reserve. Darren Sproles missed 10 games with a hamstring injury. Tackle Jason Peters has been hampered by injuries to various “ceps,” with a torn biceps and strained quadriceps. Then quarterback Carson Wentz headed to the sideline with a stress fracture in his back.
Enter the legend.
Foles has lifted the team and the city. Doubters and skeptics became believers. A team that seemed on the skids has regained its traction.
To be sure, he is not the only reason for the turnaround. They head to New Orleans with a sturdier offensive line, a settled secondary and more ski masks than a gift shop in the Poconos.
Logic and an eight-point spread would suggest their exciting playoff run will end Sunday. The Saints are the top seed in the NFC, have had a week’s rest, will have the support of a loud and rowdy crowd and sport a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees.
To heck with logic.
I can still hear the bell.
Eagles 31, Saints 28.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.
Contact: 609-272-7201 DWeinberg@pressofac.com