Post-Christmas miracle: The Eagles kings of the NFC East with a home playoff game looming

Life sure can be a tricky old possum.

Man, who would have thought the Eagles would win the NFC East when this season started?


The ghost of Leonard Tose?

The Birds are back in the playoffs after grinding past the Cowboys 24-22 Sunday night in Big D and now will host the Saints Saturday night at 8 at the Linc.

Thank God the playoff isn’t in New Orleans, where the Saints are as unbeatable as Achilles. On the road they play with an arrow in their Achilles, which tends to slow them down.

The Eagles’ defense bent more than a thin reed in a hurricane against Dallas, but didn’t break a helluva lot. They surrendered 417 yards, 358 through the air to Kyle Orton, but they hung tough when it counted.

Of course, Drew Brees passes a lot fancier than Orton.

The Eagles’ offense had a fitful evening against the Cowboys with their OL having pass protection issues and their receivers finding it difficult to get separation.

Thankfully Shady McCoy is the Real McCoy as he won the NFL rushing title with 1,607 yards.

And Nick Foles, despite getting sacked more than flour, was poised and won the NFL passer rating at 119.2, the third best in history. He finished with 27 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. He started 10 games and threw for 2,891 yards, completing 64 percent.

He can stick it into tight spots, which is paramount for a top-shelf NFL quarterback.

And now Chip Kelly and the Birds seek some postseason glory.

This likely isn’t a Super Bowl team, but it’s a fascinating and fun team.

Compared to the dismal and dour end of the Andy Reid era, talk about a gushing breath of fresh air.

Eagles play like stuffed sausages while getting grilled by the (yikes!) Vikings

Suffice it to say that the Eagles in Minneapolis on Sunday had about as much interest in defense as a blind man has in rainbows.

The Eagles were totally decimated by the depleted Vikings, getting torched 48-30.

The debacle severed a five-game winning streak as emphatically as amputating a limb.

The Psychic Hotline couldn’t have predicted this.

The game was uglier than eating Brussels sprouts.

If you recall, the Eagles’ defense sucked the first month of the season, then sucked it up and didn’t allow more than 21 points a game for nine straight games.

Until Sunday when journeyman Matt Cassel lit up the Birds’ secondary as if it were kindling.

What the hell happened to the Eagles?

Did they all develop heart murmurs, punctured eardrums, asthma and multiple sclerosis on the flight?

Barack and George W. succumb to self-preservation selfies for posterity at Mandela memorial

Some may consider taking a selfie at a memorial service to be in jackal-retching poor taste … akin to farting while meeting the Pope.

Nevertheless, President Obama took a smiling selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela’s memorial Tuesday.

Not so cool, Barack.

Granted, the memorial was considered a celebration of Mandela’s life, including music and dancing. So it wasn’t exactly a solemn funeral dirge.

Also getting caught up in the moment was former President George W. Bush, who took a selfie with Bono.

At least Bono is a little cooler than Cameron and Thorning-Schmidt.

The Eagles are the real McCoy when it comes to frolicking in the snow

OK, we all know that shoveling snow or driving in snow can be a bigger pain in the butt than an infected boil.

But playing in the snow?

Dad gum it, now THAT’s fun!

Granted, the surprise Snow Bowl at the Linc Sunday for the first 2 1/2 quarters was about as much fun for the Eagles as a root canal without Novocaine or Jameson Irish whiskey.

It wasn’t supposed to snow until the second half and then it was supposed to be lighter than an anorexic.

Instead when the game started the Linc looked like a snow globe on steroids.

I haven’t seen so much whiteout since I was typing up term papers in college.

The teams didn’t need offensive lines, they needed dog sleds.

And with the visibility of Stevie Wonder proportions, they needed dog sleds populated by seeing eye dogs.

But when the snow tapered and stopped, it was a Winter Wonderland Playground for the Birds as the visiting Lions melted faster than Frosty on a 90-degree day.

Indeed, with 6:37 remaining in the third period, the Eagles were trailing 14-0 and matters look more bleak than the cobalt gray sky.

Then LeSean McCoy, who under normal conditions flourishes best when he exquisitely and quickly changes direction and makes people miss more badly than weather forecasters, began running north and south as if only he were receiving a magnetic charge from both the North and South Poles.

McCoy scooted through the snow for a franchise-record 217 yards, an avalanche of 166 yards in the second half.

The Eagles finished with 299 yards rushing against a defense that didn’t allow a TD on the ground in the previous eight games and came in allowing the third-fewest yards rushing per game (82.7).

But those games had been played when the field wasn’t smothered in layers of Mother Nature’s white frosting.

And so it came to pass (or rather run) that the Eagles snowballed their way to a transcendent and surreal 34-20 triumph, their fifth straight win as they reached 8-5.

Memories of the Snow Ball undoubtedly will be frozen in the memory banks of Iggles Nation.

Snow began falling two hours before kickoff and then cascaded with a blinding intensity after the game started.

Workers used shovels and hand-held blowers to clear off yard lines. Conditions were so poor that neither team tried a field goal, and there were 2-point conversion attempts after seven of the eight TDs.

The field conditions made for some bizarre big plays as traction Sunday was about as non-existent as a Kim Kardashian doctorate thesis on biochemistry.

For instance, the Lions’ Jeremy Ross looked like a downhill skier schussing for a 58-yard TD punt return and a 98-yard TD kickoff return.

Dialing long distance for the Birds were McCoy with touchdown bolts of 57 and 40 yards and Chris Polk with a 38-yard scoring scamper.

Nick Foles would have had a 37-yard touchdown toss to Brent Celek in the dying minutes, but Celek voluntarily and unselfishly slid down at the 10 so the Eagles could run out the clock.

Foles, who finally threw a pick after starting the season with 19 scoring passes, had connected for 44 yards to Riley Cooper, who made a twisting over-the-shoulder catch, one play before hitting DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard TD that cut it to 14-6.

The Lions, who often have more turnovers than a bakery even when playing indoors, were slapstick comedians with frostbit fingers mishandling the snowy football Sunday, fumbling seven times and losing three of them.

Amazingly, the Eagles fumbled only once and recovered it.

Yep, the Birds are quite the Snowmen.

I can just hear Dean Martin crooning Let It Snow!

Mandela honored now, hated then

Nelson Mandela is being rightfully lionized in death for his heroic toppling of apartheid in South Africa

Americans today are being quite eloquent in honoring Mandela’s legacy.

That is now. But there used to be a then.

Not so long ago the highest circles in Washington considered Mandela to be an enemy of the United States, a terrorist who considered himself an opponent, not an ally, of American power.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of terrorist groups.

In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that Mandela be released from jail.

In the harsh light of historical perspective, how is that for irony thick enough to cut with a chainsaw?

Taking exception to U.S. exceptionalism: Our test scores rank below Vietnam!

I guess it’s time we punted on the whole education thing here in America.

It’s not working anyway.

Might as well hand all our kids a garden hose and tell them that their jobs as adults will be to keep golf courses playable for the rest of the world.

Education stagnation and a competitive workforce are allergic to each other.

According to latest results of a comprehensive set of international exams released today, America’s teens have remained mid-pack among their peers worldwide and utterly stagnant in reading, math and science over the last 10 years.

Yep, our lovable teens are losing stature like a Jenny Craig class.

Even Vietnam, which the last I looked didn’t have an Oxford located within its borders unless it recently annexed England, eclipsed the U.S. in math and science.

The only things American teens hold a competitive edge in are lawn darts and One Direction boy band downloads.

Defense, zebras save Eagles from coming apart at the seams like cheap rayon

The Eagles won their fourth straight game Sunday, reaching 7-5 and keeping them in the NFC East and playoff hunt with four games remaining.

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story:

The Birds beat the Cards 24-21 at the Linc but not before a lot of women chewed through their necklaces and a lot of men chewed through their chins.

Matters were infinitely more intense than an aquatics fitness class for the perpetually plump.

What had looked like a resounding and convincing triumph over a good Arizona club when the Eagles led 24-7 after the opening drive of the second half disappeared like MC Hammer.

The Eagles’ offense, which can be as explosive as a Taco Bell dinner, once again because as meek as puffed rice.

It’s a pattern that is not endearing but definitely is perplexing if not damn annoying.

Yep, 24-7 became 24-14 and then 24-21 and then the agita wasn’t just coming from the cheesesteaks.

Fortunately for all hearts and digestive tracts in Iggles Nation, their defense, once upon a time so puny that even the cheerleaders kicked sand in its face but which forced three turnovers and totaled five sacks Sunday, and the zebras saved the Eagles’ collective ass.

Late in the game the previously pluperfect Nick Foles threw his first pick of the season after 19 touchdown passes (three of them Sunday).

Check that. The Cards got screwed on a bogus pass interference call.

Scratch that pick.

On the Cardinals’ final offensive play on fourth-and-5 from their 15, cornerback Bradley Fletcher mugged stud wideout Michael Floyd on a pass that fell incomplete.

Either the officials couldn’t find their flags or their eyeballs because no flags were thrown.

And yet another bogus call, this one a defensive holding penalty, extended the Eagles’ final possession to bleed the clock a whiter shade of pale and wrapped up the early Christmas gift for the Eagles.

Let us all give thanks on this Thanksgiving weekend.