Once upon a time the Philadelphia Eagles looked like a carcass to be picked clean by the vultures. Alarm systems of panic were shrieking throughout the Delaware Valley and resonating even as far as Greater Reading. The comatose Birds were spawning more horror than Vincent Price ever imagined. Despair had settled in the belly of every Eagles fan and refused to leave — a woodworm that finds a spot behind a knot in the timber and stays there forever.But that was then and this is now. Now excitement in Eagles Nation is gushing as from an open faucet. The Eagles have done the impossible. Accomplished the improbable. They’ve risen from the dead. I thought resurrection was the gospel of Easter. But on Christmas Day/Night in Irving, Texas, the Birds were born again, clinching a playoff berth by totally dismantling the Dallas Cowboys 23-7. Consider this immensely illogical run that has been more kinetic than a pulsating garden hose snaking through the grass: The Eagles have won four straight, the last three transpiring in an astonishing road trip that has seen them win at Washington, at New York and now at Dallas. Pinch me, but they suddenly are 9-6 and have guaranteed themselves at least the fifth seed in the NFC. If they beat the imploding Atlanta Falcons on New Year’s Eve at the Linc, they will clinch their fifth NFC East title in six years.Who in God’s name would have thunk it?Sure as hell not me. And sure as hell not you if you’re honest about it.The Eagles suddenly are a team transformed. Somehow, someway, they have reinvented themselves. Is some mad scientist lurking inside the expansive stomach of Andy Reid?They now have a running game. For most of the season their offense had trouble jogging from the huddle. Now they actually are in a rush from the line of scrimmage. Brian Westbrook zipped for 122 yards on 26 carries Sunday against Dallas, the sixth time this season he has surpassed the century mark.And the Philadelphia defense, which had been even more pacifist than the Quakers, suddenly can plug the run, assault the passer and pressure turnovers. They absolutely stuffed the explosive Cowboys, holding them to a mere seven points and 201 total yards. But the catalyst to the Eagles’ renaissance is a backup quarterback who’s so old he has rings around his trunk. I believe he was a rookie during FDR’s first administration. For Christmas he probably received a new set of dentures and a shiny new walker.Quarterbacks his age usually are retired, ambushed by age and in dire need of a periscope to see a world that has grown alien to them. But Jeff Garcia’s NFL career still is under warranty despite all the mileage on his tires. He is the ultimate playmaker. Big plays explode on the gunpowder of his personality and moxie.Garcia once again was The Little Engine That Could pulling the Eagles down the tracks of redemption Sunday as he threw for 238 yards and rushed for 43 more.Who knows what surreal possibilities dot the horizon for this most incredible edition of the Eagles. But whatever the script of fate has scrawled for their destiny, it seems predestined that Jeff Garcia will be the straw that stirs the drink.For now, let’s all take a big gulp of happiness from the bewitching cauldron he and the Eagles have concocted.