Mask-wearing Eagles revel in underdog status
Two Philadelphia Eagles players wore dog masks to celebrate reaching the NFC Championship game, as the team revelled in proving their critics wrong by beating the Atlanta Falcons.
In the absence of star quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles went into Saturday's game as the first top-seeded team in NFL history not to be favoured in their first post-season game.
However, a stellar defensive display ensured Philadelphia claimed a 15-10 victory, with right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Chris Long duly finding the perfect way to celebrate.
Johnson was quoted by ESPN as saying: "Me and Chris Long were talking [at lunch], and everybody's calling us underdogs, so hey, let's go get us a dog mask. That's what we did."
In a news conference, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said his players were determined to show they could cope without Wentz, who was ruled out for the season in December when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"Since that point, no one has given us a chance. Nobody has given us a chance," said Pederson.
"And I understand, Carson's a great player, but every week, our guys are hearing the same thing - that now we are all of a sudden not good enough.
"We're 13-3 and have the best [regular-season] record in football. We've got home-field advantage throughout. The guys are going to motivate themselves just based on what they have done and heard for the last month of football.
"It really doesn't matter what you guys talk about because that locker room in there is united and I'll go to bat for every one of those guys and I'll go to war with every one of those guys in that dressing room."
Tight end Zach Ertz expects the Eagles to be written off again when they face the Minnesota Vikings or New Orleans Saints next weekend.
"I'm sure everyone will have their doubts," he added. "Everyone's going to say the Eagles don't have a chance and we're going to relish that opportunity again."