PHILADELPHIA (KMSP) - So close, yet so far—though it's certainly not a new feeling for Vikings fans.
Appearing in the NFC Championship game just weeks before the Super Bowl was set to descend on Minneapolis, the Vikings were closer to playing in the Big Game at their home stadium than any team in NFL history--but in the end, all the Skol chants and purple lights in the world couldn't stop Philadelphia's high-octane offense from steamrolling the Vikings secondary for big play after big play, culminating in a 38-7 win for the Eagles and a trip to Super Bowl LII.
It was a stunning turnaround for the NFL's top-ranked defense, who for most of the season dominated opponents and played a key role in one of the team's best seasons in NFL history.
VIKINGS SCORE FIRST: Minnesota struck first blood with a 25-yard touchdown pass to perennial red zone threat Kyle Rudolph on the Vikings first drive, though after that it was all Eagles.
PICK SIX FLIPS THE SCRIPT: On the next Vikings drive, a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown seemed to kickstart Philadelphia's defense--and its fan base--holding the Vikings scoreless the rest of the way and running up the score along the way. Before halftime, the Eagles had already scored a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown, a defensive touchdown and a field goal.
It was the same story in the second half, with Philadelphia coming out of the gate on their first drive with a 41-yard touchdown pass off a flea-flicker.
Devastated fans across Minnesota lamented the unceremonious end to one of the best seasons in franchise history, led by quarterback Case Keenum, who started the season third on the depth chart and a supporting cast of other unexpected stars.
CRISCO COPS: Philadelphia faithful, on the other hand, spent the night celebrating in the streets despite the efforts of several city crews who spread Crisco on poles surrounding Lincoln Financial Field, an effort to keep fans from injuring themselves by climbing.
It was an equally unexpected journey for a Philadelphia team led by one of Keenum's good friends and fellow early-season backup Nick Foles, who was knocked for not being nearly as creative or elusive as now-injured Carson Wentz in running an offense. In the wake of Sunday's game, however, several billboards went up across the city of Philadelphia with the words, "Philly believes in you, St. Nick."
SKOL CHANT MOCKED: After a week of Skol Chants echoing across Minnesota, the Eagles fans made a Nordic battle cry of their own, replacing “Skol!” with “Foles!” for quarterback Nick Foles, who finishes with 352 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and a sterling 141.4 rating.
SUPER BOWL MATCHUP: Now the Eagles are set to face AFC Champion New England in a rematch of the 2005 Super Bowl, a game won by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.