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|PHILADELPHIA — The top-seeded Eagles are in search of their first trip to the Super Bowl since the 2004 season when they host the second-seeded Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles (14-3) posted a 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round last Saturday and will participate in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2008 season. They dropped a 32-25 decision to the Arizona Cardinals in that contest.
Philadelphia hasn’t hosted an NFC Championship Game since recording a 27-10 win over the Falcons following the 2004 season.
The Vikings (14-3) advanced following a thrilling 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Stefon Diggs hauled in a 61-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Case Keenum on the final play of the game Sunday.
Like the Eagles David Krejci Jersey , Minnesota has yet to win a Super Bowl. The Vikings have dropped five consecutive NFC Championship games.
Philadelphia will enter Sunday’s game as an underdog, especially with quarterback Carson Wentz out with a torn ACL.
“It’s about those players in that dressing room, whether we’re three-point underdogs or three-point favorites. They really don’t listen to that stuff,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Of course, they have been sort of force-fed for about two weeks now, three weeks now, the information, and they just stick together. They just stick together and find a way and it’s been that way all season.”
Backup quarterback Nick Foles did an admirable job against the Falcons, completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards and a 100.1 passer rating. In two career playoff games with the Eagles — the other coming in a 26-24 loss to the Saints in 2014 — Foles is 46 of 63 for 441 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 102.7 passer rating.
“I am very humbled to win this game and to be a part of this team,” Foles said. “That’s what it’s always been about. I know there was a lot of people against us this last week. Just answering questions, and just hearing about it.
“… The biggest thing in our locker room is we believe in one another. Everyone believes, and that was shown on display. The city of Philadelphia obviously believes because they were here and loud. So we are grateful for that. Honestly, it’s unbelievable to win this game and we are not finished.”
The Vikings are in search of their first trip to the Super Bowl since the 1976 season — Super Bowl XI.
During the regular season, the Vikings’ defense ranked first in points allowed per game (15.8) and yards given up per game (275.9). Defensive end Everson Griffen was tied for fourth in the league with a career-best 13 sacks this season.
While the Vikings likely have seen video of Diggs’ amazing catch a million times, another game awaits in the NFC Championship.
“We should celebrate this and enjoy this,” tight end Kyle Rudolph told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s hard to win playoff games. There’s a lot of guys in this locker room, including myself, this is our first playoff win. But it’s just the beginning. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.
“It’d be a shame to let something like that go to waste by us not showing up.”
The incredible final play will be etched in viewers’ minds forever.
“I don’t think it’s still really sunk in as far as like what something like that’s going to be,” guard Jeremiah Sirles told ESPN.com. “That’s the stuff that in 20 years, you turn on NFL Films and it’s going to be the 2018 NFL Classic. Something like that that you can’t take away from any player that’s in this room right now. We’ll always be a part of something that happened that was super special like that.”
A win over the Eagles would not only clinch a trip to the Super Bowl, but it would also be the Vikings’ first playoff victory against Philadelphia in four tries. The last time the teams met was in the 2008 wild-card round.
The Vikings are 0-4 all-time in the Super Bowl. In order to get a fifth shot, they’ll have to travel to a hostile environment and knock out the No. 1 seed.
“They’re a pretty resilient bunch,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN.com. “They’re pretty determined in what they’re always trying to get done. They’re always trying to get better. They’re a good group of guys that work really hard.”
LOS ANGELES — Two things Clayton Kershaw clearly hates: Being on the disabled list and having pitch restrictions while on the mound.
The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ left-hander might be done with both when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kershaw will be making his third start since coming off the disabled list for his most recent back injury and has been trending in a positive direction.
What Kershaw would like to see is more of the offense the Dodgers showed in Monday’s series opener, when the club scored 17 runs on 21 hits in an easy victory.
Tasked with slowing that offense at Dodger Stadium Authentic David Pastrnak Jersey , while matching Kershaw pitch for pitch, will be Pirates right-hander Ian Nova.
If Kershaw is almost all the way back on top after an injury, Nova is there already. In four starts since coming off the DL because of a sprained right finger, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.
Kershaw is only this far along in his return from the DL because the Dodgers pulled a last-minute switch on June 23, and had him pitch in New York against the Mets instead of with Triple-A Oklahoma City on a rehab outing.
Kershaw threw 55 pitches against the Mets, giving up two runs on five hits over three innings. On June 28 against the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw was back at it, throwing 68 pitches while giving up one run on four hits over five innings.
A natural progression would have Kershaw at about 80 pitches on Tuesday, but Kershaw has a way of getting more out of himself when the situation requires it.
“I’ve proven that I’m healthy,” Kershaw told reporters after his most recent start. “So now, next time out I’m sure the restriction should hopefully be pretty close to off. (I will) get ready and just try to beat an opponent.”
Nova has thrown between 86 and 94 pitches in his four starts since coming off the DL and has given up one or no runs in three of those outings. The one where he did not was on Wednesday at New York. But he did hold the Mets to three runs over six innings, keeping the Pirates close enough to put together a ninth-inning rally for a victory.
That victory was part of a Pirates run where they won four of six games and took series at New York and San Diego. Sure there was a five-game losing streak before that, but going back even further, the Pirates had won four of five.
So even though they were roughed up by the Dodgers on Monday, the Pirates have learned the value of resiliency.
“We’re well aware of what we need to improve upon,” manager Clint Hurdle said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’re well aware of our monthly progress and then some of our monthly challenges. Love the fact that the game brings attention to specific areas, daily, weekly, monthly, and then I love to watch how some guys are able to fight and battle and work through it.”
Up next is a challenge against Kershaw, who is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Pittsburgh. The Pirates are one of two National League teams Kershaw has a losing record against in the regular season, along with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nova knows his way around the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts, one in each of the previous two seasons.