On Christmas Eve Night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas the Eagles and Cowboys were knotted up at 34-34 with under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
It was a classic, as we all watched Gardner Minshew battle.
On 2-10-47, Minshew dropped back to pass and checked it down over the middle to Miles Sanders for an innocent six-yard gain putting the Eagles in third and four yards to go.
On the play, First Team All-Pro right tackle was blocking, successfully, Dorance Armstrong, Jr. on the play.
He was in total control like he had been against every other pass rusher for the past two seasons as he had gone over 1000 snaps without surrendering a sack. Except, at the end of the play Lane limped to the ground favoring his right leg and grabbing his right groin area.
I quickly diagnosed it as I watched it as a "sports hernia" injury.
In real terms that is a tear to the core wall down near the pubic bone. I twitched in agony for Lane.
Almost 30 years ago I was playing left tackle for the Eagles on a Monday night against the Cowboys battling Jim Jeffcoat when I went down exactly as Lane did.
Thirty years ago the injury that Lane suffered wasn’t as quickly diagnosed as it is now.
In fact, I tried to play for a few weeks after and eventually my season ended a little premature.
It was said that I had a bad groin injury and needed rest to heal. It wasn’t until two months later, long after the season, that the Eagles flew me to my alma mater, Duke University, to see a core specialist named Dr. Bill Myers.
He said after a full diagnosis that it was a sports hernia injury and it would require surgery and a 6-8 week recovery. And that’s what I did and I fully recovered a few months later.
Dr. Myers is now the No. 1 sports hernia doctor in the entire world and his surgery center is called the Vincera Institute right on the grounds of the old Philadelphia Naval Base.
Athletes from around the world go there to get their core wall surgically strengthened by sewing in a reinforced mesh that strengthens the core wall as good as new.
On any given day you can see a world class athlete from soccer to hockey to football at all levels being wheeled into surgery or in their world class treatment center working to return to full strength.
Dr. Myers diagnosed Lane's injury shortly after he returned from Dallas. Together, along with input from the Eagles, Lane has decided to forego surgery for now and see with rest and rehab if he can strengthen the areas around the core tear and be ready for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Lane has called Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, who had a similar injury ears ago and played in five games with the injury.
He admitted to Lane that he wasn’t very effective but he played and contributed and immediately after the season he had surgery and returned as good as new the next season.
It’s setting up to be a magical season where the Birds have won 14 games and for much of the season were the dominant team in the NFL.
Lane doesn’t want to miss out on this golden season.
After all, his stellar play has been a key contributor to the team's success. A healthy
Lane Johnson makes the Birds the best offensive line in today’s game.
I have talked with Lane and his personal trainer, Gabe Rengel, and they are somewhat optimistic that Lane can play. I am not. I tried and was ineffective.
The tiniest of explosive moves feels as if a serrated knife is being jammed into your groin area. The pain and immediate discomfort make you stop whatever you are doing.
The strength of Lane's game is his amazing athletic ability and how nimble he is on his feet to stop the elite of the elite pass rushers that come over the right tackle.
He almost never is in a bad position because his explosive first step out of his stance to get in position to take on any elite rusher from Micah Parsons to TJ Watt and everyone else in between.
In the run game, whether he is cutting off on backside runs or leading the way on outside zone runs to his right side, no one in the NFL covers as much ground as quickly as Lane.
If any of those quick steps in any direction are compromised then he will be less effective.
My prediction is that Lane will give it his best shot and then some.
I just know from experience that it’s going to be extremely difficult to play anywhere near his common level.
That means the Eagles may very well see Jack Driscoll at RT.
Remember the Birds won a Super Bowl five years ago without their all-world left tackle, Jason Peters. With Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai), the Eagles were just as effective.
It feels like the Eagles and 49ers are on a collision course to meet in So Philly at the Linc in an NFC Championship Game.
I feel like these have been the two best teams since the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey.
I hope and pray that Lane Johnson is healthy enough to line up across from the odds on favorite to win the NFL DEF MVP, Nick Bosa.
Nothing would bring out the best in Lane to get squared off against the league's best even though he might not be at his best.
If there is one player I trust to play through this sports hernia injury, it’s Lane Johnson.
I think it would make Jalen a whole lot more confident seeing his 1st team all-pro right tackle coming out of the tunnel with his pads on and his No. 65 jersey sprinting onto the field to claim the NFC Championship and a shot at winning Super Bowl 57. *