The dog masks aren’t going anywhere.
The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) are home underdogs again. Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) opened the week as 3+-point favorites in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
That’s just fine with the Eagles Authentic Richard Rodgers Jersey
, who embraced their underdog role against sixth-seed Atlanta. Philadelphia was the first No. 1 seed in league history not favored to win its first playoff game.
After beating the Falcons 15-10, Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson and veteran defensive end Chris Long mocked doubters by wearing German Shepherd dog masks as they walked off the field.
The dog masks have become a popular item in Philly since the players wore them Saturday night. The team announced fans can wear them on Sunday as long as they take them off during security check entering the stadium.
”To have a lot of people not having a lot of confidence in us and yet to find ways to win just makes it that much more special for this group,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
Expectations for the Eagles have dropped since Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. Nick Foles is 3-1 in his place with the only loss coming in Week 17 when the starters only played one quarter.
But the offense clearly isn’t the same without Wentz, who is an MVP candidate after tossing 33 touchdown passes in 13 games.
”Since that point, no one has given us a chance,” Pederson said. ”Nobody has given us a chance. 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 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.
”Listen, 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.”
The Eagles were on the opposite side the previous time they played for a trip to the Super Bowl nine years ago. They were 4-point road favorites in the conference championship game at Arizona, but Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals to a 32-25 comeback win.
Since 2000, the home team has been an underdog four times in the NFC title game. The underdog Giants beat the Vikings in January 2000 and the Cardinals beat the Eagles in January 2009. The Bears lost to the Packers in Chicago in January 2010 and the Falcons lost to the 49ers in Atlanta in January 2012.
”I’m glad they’re not in charge of my finances,” tight end Zach Ertz said of prognosticators. ”It feels like all of those guys that pick the games are typically wrong. Same with the guys that usually do the draft stuff, the mock draft, kind of the same thing. All these guys that think they know everything typically don’t.”
The Eagles are using critics for extra motivation as they pursue the franchise’s first Super Bowl title and first NFL championship since 1960.
”Just keep on disrespecting and we’re going to keep proving people wrong,” receiver Alshon Jeffery said. ”We just believe in one another, we don’t care what anybody else says. We’re just going to keep believing in one another and just keep fighting.”
AP NFL website: Brandon Nimmo began the game with an inside-the-park home run. Turned out he was just getting started.
Nimmo homered twice during a huge night at the plate, and the New York Mets finally gave Jacob deGrom some run support Monday in a 12-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
”It took a funny bounce (off the wall) Authentic Joseph Noteboom Jersey
, so something was working my way for that first at-bat,” Nimmo said. ”That was pretty cool and a great way to start it off. Just kind of loosened things up after that.”
Wilmer Flores and Devin Mesoraco also went deep for New York, which won its third straight following a prolonged slide. Nimmo had four hits and set a career high with four RBIs – one night after his go-ahead, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning staved off defeat for the Mets and rallied them to a win at Arizona.
”I think everybody knew he was capable of playing at an elite level and that is pretty elite,” New York manager Mickey Callaway said. ”He goes out there and plays the game right every single day. He brings energy and it’s paying off for him.”
After pitching in terrible luck for weeks as New York’s hitters slumped, deGrom (5-2) got some help from his teammates at last. He allowed two runs – one earned – in eight innings to snap a two-game skid and win for the first time in six outings since May 18 against the Diamondbacks.
On the eve of his 30th birthday, the right-hander struck out seven, walked one and lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.51. He improved to 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in six career starts against Colorado.
The 12 runs the Mets scored were more than they managed in deGrom’s previous eight starts combined. He had given up only five earned runs in his last five games – without a single win to show for it.
”I think he’s proven over the last two years that he’s in the conversation as one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
It was the eighth home loss in a row for the Rockies, who have permitted at least seven runs in all those games. Black was ejected in the fourth for arguing a call by first base umpire Bill Welke.
Tyler Anderson (4-2) went 5 1/3 innings for Colorado, yielding three runs and seven hits. And it was another rough outing collectively for the bullpen. Four relievers were tagged for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings.
”We’re going to get out of this funk,” said Jake McGee, who gave up Mesoraco’s homer. ”For how close our clubhouse is, I know we’re going to get out of it. And once we get out of it, we’re going to be stronger than we were before.”
Playing in front of family and friends from his Wyoming hometown, Nimmo got the game off to a rousing start. He lofted a deep drive that hit off the right-center field wall and rolled away from Carlos Gonzalez. By the time the right fielder chased it down, Nimmo had charged past third base and went into home standing up, well ahead of a weak throw.
”I haven’t done that before,” he said. ”That was fun.”
Nimmo became the third Mets player to lead off a game with an inside-the-park home run and first since Angel Pagan on Aug. 23 Authentic Brian Allen Jersey
, 2009, against Philadelphia. The previous New York player with an inside-the-park homer was Ruben Tejada on Sept. 2, 2015, also against the Phillies.
Nimmo’s second home run of the night came in the seventh off Harrison Musgrave and went over the center-field fence, allowing him to round the bases at a more conventional pace.
The Mets added six runs in the ninth on a pair of bases-loaded walks by reliever Jeff Hoffman, Amed Rosario’s two-run double and Nimmo’s two-run single.
Plate umpire Tony Randazzo endured a painful night, twice getting struck by foul balls, but he saw it through. He was hit on his left hand by a foul tip off the bat of Nolan Arenado in the third inning but had team trainers wrap some protective tape around his hand and went back to work. In the sixth, a foul ball off the bat of Michael Conforto struck him at the base of his neck just above his protective breastplate. Clearly in pain, Randazzo was tended to again by trainers but managed to shake it off after a few minutes and stay in the game.
Mets: Slumping RF Jay Bruce was scratched from the lineup because of nagging hip soreness. He has missed four of the last five starts, and Callaway said Bruce will be re-evaluated in the next day or two. Callaway said the disabled list remains an option. … RHP Noah Syndergaard, sidelined since May 26 with a strained ligament in his right index finger, played catch and came out of it well. He’s expected to do some longer tosses, 75 to 80 feet, as part of his ongoing rehab effort.
Rockies: RHP Carlos Estevez faced hitters for the first time since going on the DL with a strain in his pitching elbow near the end of spring training. Estevez threw about 20 pitches to Tony Wolters, Ryan McMahon and Noel Cuevas and reported to team trainers that he came out of the session pain-free.
Mets: LHP Jason Vargas (2-5, 7.39 ERA) starts Tuesday night at Coors Field.
Rockies: RHP German Marquez (4-7, 5.13) is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in three starts this month.