January 22, 2023
There were moments throughout Saturday where you could pinpoint when you knew this Eagles playoff game was over. Maybe it happened when Giant Killer Boston Scott scored an inevitable touchdown in the second quarter. Maybe it was even when the water wasn't working in the Giants' hotel at the beginning of the day.
After the third play from scrimmage in the Birds' playoff win over New York, I knew this one was wrapped.
Coming off the heels of a 40-yard bomb from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith, the Eagles' quarterback called upon tight end Dallas Goedert. Goedert was matched up with Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson, split out to the left of the formation. Hurts tossed the ball his way and Goedert stiff-armed Jackson like he was trying to send him through the earth's crust for a nine-yard gain.
It was nine yards in a game the Birds won by 31 points, sure, but Lincoln Financial Field went ballistic. It was five years to the day since the Eagles' last home playoff win and that crowd wanted something, anything to cling onto as the dreams of another Super Bowl run manifested.
The Eagles did not care about any of the hype surrounding possible back-to-back postseason upsets by the Giants. New York defensive coordinator Wink Martindale's scheme was frankly nonexistent to them. They did everything they wanted to do all night and the tenacity the Birds brought with them in this 38-7 beatdown oozed after a stiff arm from Goedert that could even make Derrick Henry jealous.
"It's always big to start fast, love when I can touch the ball early," Goedert said following the playoff win. "I always try and make plays. I think that stiff arm got some energy on our team, but I think the whole team was ready to go with or without that."
When asked what his mindset is when throwing a stiff arm like that, Goedert replied, "I face up against a DB, I'm trying to stiff-arm him every time. They're too small, can't reach and stuff... I landed one I've been waiting to land for a while."
Hurts took notice of that, too.
In his postgame press conference, QB1 spoke about Goedert, who finished with five catches for 58 yards and a TD, and that monster stiff arm.
"The physicality he plays with and how he came out there, he does that all the time. He’s trying to punish somebody. He’s not trying to spare no man."
"Spare No Man" should be put on a t-shirt that's sold in the Jetro Lot next Sunday before the NFC Championship Game.
It was a perfect first drive for Goedert. Five plays later, Hurts hit the tight end on an out route. Goedert made a one-handed catch, turned up the field, broke through a hopeless tackle attempt from New York safety Julian Love and found his way into the end zone for a 16-yard score to make it 7-0.
The Eagles and all 69,000 of their fans were about to foam at the mouth.
"He made a great play. He's tough to tackle. He is really tough to tackle. He is a big man. I wouldn't want to tackle him," head coach Nick Sirianni said postgame. "That was the jersey my son wore today. I didn't bring him in here. He got to go celebrate in the locker room with us for a little bit, so he didn't get a chance to come up to the press conference today, but he wore the Dallas Goedert jersey, and he didn't disappoint my son."
The head coach's kid wearing your jersey must be one big vote of confidence. It's deserved in Goedert's case. I have a feeling some Goedert jerseys are going to fly off the racks at the Eagles Pro Shop this week as well.
Goedert's ability as a receiver has allowed him to become a big name in Philly, but the guy's game is so well-rounded. He might be the best run-blocking tight end in the league.
Here's Goedert punishing Jackson again, but this time on the Eagles' QB sneak pitchout on their second TD drive:
Though he wasn't on that original Super Bowl squad, drafted just two months later, Goedert, at age 28, brings playoff experience with him. He scored his first postseason touchdown ever as a rookie in the Double Doink win over Chicago. On the negative side of things, he had also lost his three previous postseason games to the Saints, Seahawks and Buccaneers, respectively.
"I think playoff experience is definitely a big thing," Goedert said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex leading up to the Eagles' postseason opener. "It seems like at the beginning of my career, I was so young, I was still technically a backup tight end. I feel like some of the pressure wasn't really on me. I was just kind of on the backburner. But last year was a good first experience for this whole team, the coaching staff, Jalen. I think last year's playoff experience is going to help us more than any of my past.
"I wouldn't say we were unprepared. They had a lot of stuff when we played down in Tampa last year that we were unaware of and just as a team, we didn't really execute as well as we should've. I think that'll play a big factor this week and going forward."
The Eagles are markedly different from what they were when they got crushed in the Wild Card Round against the Bucs last season. The Birds were down 31-0 in the third quarter. Flash forward 12 months and the Eagles pulled out a 31-point win over a divisional rival to make the conference title game.
"You get to the playoffs and we were obviously really excited to make it as a team last year," Goedert continued on. "We spent so much at the end of our season being perfect to get to the playoffs, that was maybe where our end goal was. This year, it's just completely different around the building. We feel like we haven't accomplished anything yet."
Well, Dallas, I'd say you all ended up accomplishing a lot Saturday night. The tide was ready to turn for this year's Eagles and Goedert did his part by snatching away all the Giants' much-hyped momentum with a single outstretched arm.
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