As Case Keenum’s pass wobbled through the air toward the right sideline in the first quarter of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson waited patiently for his opportunity.
Once he firmly had the ball in his hands near midfield, there was no stopping him.
“About two hours before the game, I said, ‘If I get a pick, there’s no way I’m going out of bounds,’” Robinson, a Gulliver Prep alumnus, said according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Robinson weaved and bobbed past Minnesota Vikings players who stood in between him and the end zone, running from sideline to sideline to escape the opposition. One final assist from teammate Ronald Darby near the 15-yard line gave Robinson just enough room to squeeze into the end zone for a game-tying pick-six.
“A lot of times you get a pick and there’s always one guy who slips through the pack and gets you,” Robinson said. “But this time all our guys were running hard and trying to make blocks. After I cut it back across the field, Darby made a great block.”
And that play changed the momentum in the Eagles’ favor for good. Philadelphia scored 31 more consecutive points after the pick-six for a 38-7 victory and cruised to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2004 season. Outside of the nine-play, 75-yard drive the Vikings crafted to open the game, Minnesota was held to just 258 yards for the remainder of the game.
Robinson, in his first season in Philadelphia after stints with the New Orleans Saints (2010-2014), San Diego Chargers (2015) and Indianapolis Colts (2016), has been a cornerstone for the Eagles’ defense this season. The 30-year-old led the team with four interceptions during the regular season and had a team-high-tying 22 passes defended.
“The whole defense has been playing together and playing well all season,” he said. “I really think that’s because our focus has been to forget the last play and just focus on the next one.”
The next play will come on Feb. 4 in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, the defending champions and winners of two of the past three Super Bowls. The Patriots used a fourth-quarter rally to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game.
It will be a rematch of Super Bowl 39, the Eagles’ most recent Super Bowl appearance. The Patriots won that game 24-21.