First of all, my tickets were in section 407. In other words, I would be the first one to find out if the roof collapsed. But I didn't care. I was just happy to be going.
I'm one of those Eagles fans who unfortunately doesn't live in the Philadelphia area. I've also never been to The Linc. I have friends up in Philly who have been constantly asking me to go to a home game, but being a low-finance college kid, that's easier said than done. So when the schedule was announced, slating the Eagles for a Week 1 showdown with the Rams in St. Louis, I pounced on the opportunity as soon as I could. My experience after the jump:
We reach the dome, and I'm immediately greeted by a sea of midnight green. I've never seen so many Eagles fans in my life. Some honk at me as I walk along the sidewalk. I stand outside the dome, waiting for the gates to open. I'm surrounded by Eagles fans to the point where Rams fans are outnumbered. The guy I talk to is a relocated Eagles fan who made the drive from Tulsa. He says he's been going to games since the Franklin Field days. I'm not only surrounded by the fans of this great team, I'm surrounded by the culture.
I make it down to the field level and take pictures as best as I can. However, security was no-nonsense today (they had a pat-down at the entrance), and I couldn't go down to the railing without a ticket. I snapped some quick photos of Jason Babin and Asante Samuel (Howard Mudd was down there as well), and make my way up to my actual seats.
On the escalator up to my seats, I look out the window of the dome and see a bunch of jackasses with anti-Michael Vick signs protesting across the street.
My section had quite a few Eagles fans in it, however, we were outnumbered by blue and gold. We quickly became a very loud minority, however.
On a serious note, the pre-game ceremonies were pretty emotional. A moment of silence, 'U-S-A' chants, and the like. Someone a couple rows back had an NYPD hat. He was sniffling.
You guys are gonna get a big kick out of this: the Rams have what they call the "Five Rules of the 12th Ram". They played the video before the game. I'm expecting it to be along the lines of, "Be respectful, don't use profanity, etc." Nope. They have to instruct fans when and how to cheer. The five rules:
1) When the Rams have the ball, be quiet.
2) When the Rams are on defense, be loud.
3) Every time the Rams get to the quarterback, you're supposed to yell, "SAAAAAACK!"
4) When the Rams get a first down, the announcer says "St. Louis", and then you say "First down!"
5) Every kickoff and field goal is supposed to begin with a slow clap.
They kept replaying these rules throughout the game. I was expecting a test at the end.
The game gets off to a rocky start. The Eagles' offense sputters, followed by a Steven Jackson TD run on the very first Rams' play from scrimmage. Uh oh.
Luckily, things only got better from then on. LeSean McCoy tied the game, proving once again that I need to invest in his jersey. The ensuing Rams possession, Sam Bradford coughs it up, and Parker gets the scoop-n-score. The Philly Phaithful in my section go nuts, especially me. I like Bradford as a quarterback. I really do. But I'm tired of people around here ('here' being Missouri) talking him up as if he's Joe Freakin' Montana. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him get kicked around like a soccer ball today.
Second quarter. Three Rams fans and a punk-ass kid several rows back get into a huge fight. The kid winds up ripping his shirt off and hiding behind a fat guy. Everyone in the entire section (except me) was watching as the cops came up and got them. While no one is looking, the Eagles get three first downs in a row.
Vick is nailed from the blind side, and the Rams recover the fumble. I look at the replay to see who got the sack....it's Quintin Mikell. Of course.
During a timeout, a security guard on the sideline has a tissue box filled with ping pong balls strapped to his rear, and is challenged to shake all of the balls out in order to win $100 in lottery tickets. I sometimes don't understand the human race.
Halftime. I've been looking at the out of town scoreboard all game, and am shocked at numerous things: Ryan Fitzpatrick's performance against KC, the Ravens blowing out the Steelers (I benched Flacco in fantasy), and the Falcons getting crushed by the Bears. Feeling much better about next week.
Michael Vick dodges three pass rushers, a linebacker, a freight train, and a meteor before scrambling downfield for a long first down. Vick has always been one of my favorite players, even in his Atlanta days, and watching him in person today was awe-inspiring to say the least.
Jeremy Maclin has a tough catch bounce off his fingertips. Someone to my right yells, "Nice catch, dickhead!". A few plays later, he hauls in a 20 yarder. No one yells, "You're awesome, dickhead!". When the announcer says, "Pass completed to #18, Jeremy Maclin", his hometown fans boo him. Shame on you, St. Louis.
Touchdown! Vick to DeSean Jackson. This is when it really became apparent that today would be the Eagles' day. I had said before the game that if the Eagles build at least a 14-point lead, it's game over. Time to put up or eat crow.
One of the Eagles fans behind me was beyond awesome. Go back and look at PE.com's splash page cartoon before the Raiders game. The guy on the unicycle with the Dunkin' Donuts box? That was him. He was rabid. I want to be just like him when I grow up. ("DEY AIN'T DA GREATEST SHOW ON TURF NO MO!")
Fourth quarter. Shady does what Shady does and runs right through the Rams defense for a long TD. At that point, the population of Rams fans in the building goes down like NASDAQ.
Next drive, I'm a little sickened to see Brandon Gibson beat Nnamdi and make a spectacular catch along the sideline. I start to discuss the play with the guy behind me, and then BOOM. Reid challenges. He's wrong. It's now officially an Eagles game.
AJ Feeley is in now! Could this day get any better?
Cullen Jenkins slams AJ to the ground, and then does the greatest sack dance I have ever seen.
I can't find a video of the Rams' season ticket commercial, but it involves an Elvis lookalike with a suit covered in Rams logos. He left after Jenkins' sack. I am one of many who yell, "Elvis has left the building!"
The Eagles face 4th and 11 from the STL 33. I'd expect Alex Henery to come out and try a field goal. Instead, they go for it. Vick is pressured, gets rid of it, gets knocked down by two pass rushers, incomplete. Is that what you had in mind, Andy?
Vick, not Kafka, comes back out to kneel it. He takes two knees, and goes under 100 yards rushing for the day. He and Shady still combined for over 200 on the gound. As the clock hits zero, chants of E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!! are heard far and wide throughout the stadium.
I'm walking down the stairs, and a couple of Rams fans are bitching about the injuries and trainers. One points to me and says, "Hell, I got more respect for this guy wearing a Maclin jersey than those guys. I played against him all four years in high school. That little n****r can run." Stay classy, boys.
Jackson finished with six catches for 102 yards and a TD. Vick looked like old-school Vick on the ground, running around pass rushers like nobody was there. It was a great game. I take pride in knowing I'm one of thousands of Eagles fans who overran St. Louis. I listened to the Rams' post-game show on the way home, and Eagles fans just kept calling in and laughing. We made the city our own.
Good win, enjoy it, and let's beat Atlanta! GO BIRDS!