It has become a source of humor, something that allows the Philadelphia Eagles to laugh at something that would seemingly have been feeling a bit less than jovial.
Lane Johnson, their standout offensive tackle, started it all with the dog mask he wore into the dressing room before the Eagles’ divisional-round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons last Saturday night. It was his way of poking fun at the Eagles’ underdog status. Johnson also wore the mask on the field after his team’s 15-10 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
‘We just channeled all of that and went out there and played with our emotions on our sleeves’
Now, numerous Eagle fans have caught onto the dog-mask craze. So have some of Johnson’s teammates, because the Eagles again are underdogs for their NFC Championship Game showdown against the Minnesota Vikings. That’s despite their No. 1 playoff seed. That’s despite the fact they’re again at home. Why? The simple answer is that Nick Foles, and not injured Carson Wentz, is at quarterback for the Eagles. But that doesn’t make it any easier for their players to swallow.
“Last week, that was a huge motivation for us, just hearing everything that we heard for a week and a half,” safety Rodney McLeod told Vic Carucci and Bill Polian on Late Hits. “We just channeled all of that and went out there and played with our emotions on our sleeves, let it all pour out. And you saw the results of it.
‘No one wanted to give us a chance’
“It was funny what Lane did, seeing him come in the locker room early on. I didn’t know he brought it out to the field after the game, but, man, the City of Philadelphia is embracing it, we’re embracing it. It’s kind of the story of our season. We’ve been underdogs quite often this year. No one wanted to give us a chance. Even with Carson Wentz in the lineup, people said that we didn’t play anyone and that we’ll struggle once we face some good teams.”
As far as McLeod is concerned, overcoming so many challenges has only served to make the Eagles mentally tougher. And at the perfect time.
‘We’ve faced a lot of adversity, injuries and everything’
“We’ve been battled-tested all year,” he said. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity, injuries and everything, so we’re just embracing that right now and focused on the Vikings, another game where we’re underdogs. But we wouldn’t want it any other way. We’re going to go out there and play hard, play the same way, and find a way to win.”