By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Vinny Curry had just started his college career as a freshman backup at Marshall University when the Eagles last won a playoff game back in 2008.
Curry was an All-Shore and All-State player his senior year at Neptune (N.J.) High School the last time the Eagles won a home playoff game back in 2006.
Last Saturday, when the Eagles ended their playoff drought with a 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field, Curry was in the center of it.
The Eagles defensive end was part of the unit that held quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons to just 10 points, and kept them out of the end zone with a goal-line stand at the end of the game.
Curry, who despite growing up in “Giants Country,’’ was an Eagles’ fan. He watched those last playoff wins, as well as the team’s last Super Bowl run in 2004.
Now he’s part of the next one, as the Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, in the NFC Championship Game.
“I watched those games, absolutely,’’ Curry said of the Eagles win against the Giants at the Meadowlands in 2008, and also against the Giants at home in 2006. “I always watched the Eagles growing up. I’ve always been a fan. I guess it started when I was a little kid and they got (running back) Ricky Watters (in 1995, when Curry was seven years old), and I just stayed with them.
“Those playoff runs, with (quarterback Donovan) McNabb, I watched them too.’’
The Eagles went to four straight NFC Championship Games from 2001-04, and finally got to the Super Bowl in 2004. They got back to the Championship Game in 2008, losing at Arizona. And they hadn't advanced past the first round of the playoffs since.
In 2010, they lost at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, and in 2013, with Curry in a reserve role, they lost at home to the New Orleans Saints. The other six years they missed the postseason.
Saturday’s win sent them back to their sixth NFC Championship Game in 17 years. They are hoping to get to their third Super Bowl, and then end a 57-year championship drought. The Eagles last NFL title came in 1960.
“The playoffs, yeah, it’s different,’’ Curry said. “It’s not just talk, it really is a different feeling.’’
And it feels even better when you come out on the winning end, as the Eagles did last Saturday.
“It just felt so good,’’ Curry said. “From the beginning of the game, getting ready, to how the game ended, it was just a great feeling. The energy, the electricity, you could just feel it. It was a great game and to be a part of it was just something you can’t even describe. It was kind of surreal.’’
The game came down to the final Falcons drive as Ryan took his team to a first-and-goal at the Eagles nine-yard line. From there Curry and the Eagles defense took over.
Curry got pressure on first down and forced an incomplete pass. A shovel pass fell incomplete on second down and then Ryan found wide receiver Julio Jones for seven yards to the two-yard line.
On fourth-and-two, Ryan rolled right and tried to get the ball to Jones, but overthrew him in the end zone.
“It was just a situation, when it comes to things like that, it’s a drill we go through every day,’’ Curry said. “It’s one of the things where the coaches have put us in that situation every day. So, we were ready.’’
Now the Eagles and Curry get ready for the Vikings, and then maybe a trip to Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
Curry finished second among the team’s defensive linemen with 42 tackles and was also second on the team in tackles for a loss with 13. His 41 quarterback hits led the team.
“I knew we had a special team,’’ Curry said. “The chemistry was just there in all phases of the team, offense, defense, and special teams. We love being around each other, on and off the field, it’s just a special group. You could just feel the energy, even in practice.’’