Ranking the 10 Most Defining Moments in Philadelphia Eagles Franchise History
The history of the Philadelphia Eagles has been full of ups and downs. The ups include some of the greatest games in NFL history, and the downs include some of the most heartbreaking defeats, particularly those that prevented the Eagles from reaching their goal of winning the Super Bowl.
Every moment, however, whether good or bad, has left a permanent impact upon the Eagles' fanbase and has made Eagles nation what it is today.
Here's a list of the 10 most defining moments in Eagles' franchise history.
10. Miracle at the New Meadowlands
While it was a close call between this game and the first Miracle at the Meadowlands, the most recent game is a more defining moment and will go down as one of the greatest games in not only Eagles history, but in NFL history.
It was this game that solidified Michael Vick as the clear starter in the eyes of the fans, the organization, and most importantly the locker room.
It was this game that showed that for all the flaws of the post-McNabb Eagles, lack of heart was not one of them (at least on offense).
And it was this game that showed that if the Eagles truly show up every Sunday, there's not a single opponent that they could not beat.
9. Signing of Terrell Owens
The Eagles had reached the NFC championship three consecutive times and fell every single time, with the last two times being against far inferior opponents on paper.
Fans criticized the organization every single season and questioned whether it truly was serious about delivering a championship to Philadelphia. Similarly, fans also began to question whether Donovan McNabb was an elite quarterback.
By signing Terrell Owens, the Eagles organization proved to fans that it was willing to make big offseason acquisitions if it truly believed it would help the team achieve its title goals.
Eagles fans were also then treated to one of the greatest seasons in Eagles' quarterback history, as Donovan McNabb, having finally been given a playmaker on offense, proved that he was an excellent passer.
He threw for 33 touchdowns and completed 64 percent of his passes to only eight interceptions.
But while Owens brought good times to Philadelphia, many will remember this era more for the drama he would create in the following season. The feud between him and McNabb would become one of the most well-known feuds in professional football history and represented a championship opportunity completely squandered.
8. Signing of Michael Vick
There were only two times in recent Eagles history when the organization has seemingly drastically deviated from its mission of building a team of high-quality players. Once was the preceding slide. The next was the signing of ex-convict Michael Vick.
This signing left the city of Philadelphia divided. Much of the city rejoiced, believing that the organization was showing it would do anything it took to win a title. The rest of the city felt betrayed, seeing the signing as completely casting aside the organization's commitment of acquiring role models, rather than athletes.
The story of this signing is not yet over, but it has already completely defined the current Eagles for who they are. The current Eagles took a chance on a former animal abuser who had spent two years in prison and away from football.
As a result, they are led by a man who has defied all odds by returning a better quarterback than he has ever been. He has turned his life around and matured, emerging as the clear leader on his team.
Love him or hate him, if the Eagles signing of Vick results in a Super Bowl for Philadelphia, it will go down as one of the greatest stories in sports history.
Late in the 2004 NFC divisional round against the Favre-led team of destiny Green Bay Packers, the Eagles were in need of a first down, but with penalties and incompletions, the Eagles needed to convert a 4th-and-26 to keep their season alive.
In the face of adversity and with a clutch pass needed, Donovan McNabb responded. He saw that linebacker Nick Barnett had blown his coverage, and without hesitation, he threw to an open Freddie Mitchell, who made a leaping catch for the first down.
A David Akers' field goal sent the game to overtime, where the Eagles would win the game and advance to their third straight NFC championship game.
McNabb has been criticized for playing poorly in clutch situations, but here, he proved once and for all that he could make the clutch throws and the clutch plays when his team needed him to. And the Eagles showed the world that when they believe they can win, they can beat anyone.
6. 2004 NFC Championship Loss
Unfortunately, this moment is completely opposite of the preceding one. Just as 4th-and-26 showed that the Eagles could show as much heart as any team in the history of the league, this game showed that the team could also completely collapse when it's just within inches of its goal.
Last season, the Eagles had advanced all the way to the NFC championship game, and despite being heavy favorites, lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2004, there was seemingly no way the Eagles could lose again. This surely had to be the year.
However, it was not to be. Donovan McNabb played poorly and went down with an injury late in the game. Koy Detmer failed to rally the Eagles offense. The Eagles receivers also failed to get open on the most important game of the season.
After coming off a brilliant display of heart against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles showed very little, coming up short for the third straight time of its goal of reaching the Super Bowl.
5. 1980 Super Bowl Loss
Even though the Eagles lost this game, the fact that they reached their first Super Bowl ever was a positive moment in Eagles history.
For many years, the Eagles struggled, posting season after season of mediocrity and irrelevance. Then, Dick Vermeil was hired out of UCLA and completely turned the franchise. He taught the Eagles how to win and showed this by taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.
By reaching the final game of the NFL season, the Eagles showed that they were capable of being in contention, and a winning culture was established in Philadelphia.
4. 1948 NFL Championship Victory
The 1948 NFL championship marked the first time the Eagles had ever won a championship, and that alone is enough to place it on a top-five list of most defining franchise moments.
In this game, the Eagles defeated the Cardinals by a one touchdown, with running back Steve Van Buren running in for a score late in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a close and stunning victory.
On this day, the Eagles proved for the first time that they could win the big game, and the Eagles have been striving to find that winning spirit ever since.
3. 1960 NFL Championship
In a close match between two evenly matched teams, the Eagles pulled off a close 17-13 win against the Green Bay Packers. This was the only championship loss in Vince Lombardi's career, and it marked the last time the Eagles have won a championship.
Ever since this game, the Eagles have struggled to establish a championship-winning culture, coming the closest in the current Andy Reid era.
While this game was a grand achievement by the franchise, the failure of the franchise to win a championship since this game has done much to define the franchise's history.
2. 2005 NFC Championship Win
On this day, the Eagles proved that they could get past the hump. They had lost three straight NFC championships, but the fourth time would be the charm.
The Eagles defeated the much-hyped Michael Vick-led Atlanta Falcons easily and cruised to their second Super Bowl appearance. After that game, with the heart the Eagles showed, fans were feeling like their team could have beaten the 1985 Chicago Bears that night.
This game has been the highlight of the Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb era but would unfortunately be followed by a disappointing season finale...
1. 2005 Super Bowl Loss
After finally reaching their goal after three consecutive years of heartbreak, the Eagles just didn't have enough heart to defeat the New England Patriots in the last game of the season. Close games often separate champions from good teams, and the Eagles fell just short of the Patriots, 24-21.
McNabb did not play poorly, but he also did not play extremely well. The defense was not awful, but it failed to rattle Tom Brady. The Patriots defense, on the other hand, had its way with McNabb and had him running for his life much of the game.
It's true that the Patriots were heavy favorites, but regardless, this season just had the feeling of being the Eagles' year. The team failed to capitalize on their greatest window of opportunity and remains the only NFC East team without a Super Bowl victory.