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Fans outside of Green Bay may not understand why this game is No. 1 on the list. It wasn’t for the highest stakes (Super Bowl XXXII), it didn’t end on a game-winning catch with under five seconds left (1997 wild-card loss) and it didn’t end on an inexcusable interception in a conference final game (2007 NFC Championship).
So why is this game No. 1?
Because it is the one game that Packer fans still have a hard time talking about. It was the single-most inexcusable loss in Packer history. It was in the middle of Brett Favre’s prime, with a team that could have made a Super Bowl run.
Just writing about this game puts knots in my stomach. I still remember where I was and how I felt immediately after this game ended.
So what happened that made this game so horrifying for Packer fans?
The Packers held a 17-14 lead late into the fourth quarter. Packers punted with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter, leaving the Eagles with just over two minutes to get into field goal range to tie the game.
On the first play of the drive, Duce Staley ran for 22-yards, putting the Eagles in good position to get into field goal range. After a Donovan McNabb incompletion, McNabb took a 16-yard sack to put the Eagles into a 3rd-and-26 hole. McNabb threw another incompletion.
Thus, 4th-and-26; With a 17-14 lead, 1:12 on the clock, no timeouts and one play to get 26 yards, the Packers seemingly had the game wrapped up.
On 4th-and-26, McNabb took the snap and hit Freddie Mitchell, self-proclaimed as “Fred-Ex”, for what appeared to be exactly 26 yards, although it was spotted two yards ahead of the first-down marker for an official 28-yard catch.
With renewed life, the Eagles drove all the way down to the Green Bay 19-yard line before David Akers kicked a 37-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, David Akers hit a 31-yard field goal to win the game, ending Green Bay’s title hopes and leaving Packer nation stunned that the team could allow a 28-yard completion on 4th-and-26.
An often criticized part of this game was that with 2:30 left on the clock, the Eagles had one timeout left, and Green Bay was faced with a 4th-and-1 on offense at the Philadelphia 41. Rather than going for it to secure the win, the Packers took a delay-of-game penalty and punted. The next possession was the 4th-and-26 drive.