PHILADELPHIA – Eagles coach Doug Pederson finally settled into sleep around 2 a.m. on Monday, while Philadelphia's fans ran, shrieked and climbed all over the city after the Eagles thoroughly dismantled the Vikings in the NFC title game.
Now those rabid fans are coming for Minneapolis, the famous dog masks in hand as 5 ½-point underdogs to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"They're a lot like us," Pederson said Monday at the Eagles' NovaCare Complex. "We've been underdogs the past couple weeks, and our fans feel that. They understand that. We hope to have the entire Eagles nation up in Minneapolis in two weeks."
After Pederson outcoached Vikings counterpart Mike Zimmer, and his Eagles players outplayed the Vikings in Minnesota's latest playoff embarrassment, there was only chaotic and unbridled ecstasy in Philadelphia.
The "City of Brotherly Love" braced for the madness. Workers greased the city's light posts to deter fans from climbing (they still did). However, local news media reported "shockingly" low arrests made with only six people taken into custody, according to the Philadelphia Police Department. Three people were locked up for trying to sell fake tickets. One person was handcuffed for assaulting a police officer in a bloody pregame incident in a tailgate lot outside the stadium.
Pederson gets the passion in Philly, a city where he played one half-season as the Eagles' starting quarterback in 1999 before rejoining Andy Reid as an assistant coach a decade later.
"What I've seen on TV and experienced last night with our fans and even today," Pederson said, "the text messages, e-mails and things you get, it's pretty incredible. To have played here a long time ago, to have experienced the passion then to what they're feeling today, I'm excited for the players and for our fans."
The Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since Pederson's mentor, Reid, brought Philadelphia to the brink of its first Lombardi Trophy after the 2004 season. Like so many other endings involving the Patriots, New England won that game, too, for the third of its now five dynastic Super Bowl wins.
"I think everybody in the league sort of envies the success and rightfully so," Pederson said of the Patriots. "They've been there, done that many times. That's something every team would love to have."
Forty-year-old quarterback Tom Brady is now gunning for his NFL-record sixth Super Bowl ring.
Standing in his way is an Eagles defense that just whooped the Vikings, forcing three turnovers and pitching a shutout after giving up an opening-drive touchdown on Sunday.
Waves of Eagles defensive linemen — a platoon the Vikings helped build via the first-round pick acquired for Sam Bradford and used on end Derek Barnett — wore down Minnesota's offensive front.
Under Zimmer, the Vikings want what the Eagles have, which is a deep defensive line rotation. Eight Eagles defensive linemen played at least one-third of the game; all played fewer than 80 percent of snaps. This season, the Vikings defensive line relied on a six-man rotation, which eroded to five on Sunday while Shamar Stephen was injured and inactive.
Their effectiveness suffered. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was hit only five times on 34 dropbacks. Meanwhile, Philadelphia's front continually affected Case Keenum's throws.
"Coach always says, 'Stop the run and go have fun,' " Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "We got a chance to do that and do a bunch of different things. We had a chance to go out and dominate."
Dominate they did. Vikings players and coaches took issue with some of the trash talking and late shoves by Eagles players. Minnesota kept giving them "more ammunition," receiver Adam Thielen said, by failing.
The Eagles and Philadelphia fans wear the label of underdogs, but they don't act like it.
"If I'm tight, they're going to feel it and probably react the same way," Pederson said. "I want them to let their personalities show, let them have fun, enjoy the moment. This is why we coach and play for these opportunities right here. Not only were our guys well prepared but relaxed going into that game."