The 100 Most Memorable Moments in Philadelphia Eagles History
When you think about the Philadelphia Eagles and their history, what are the first moments that jump into your head?
Are they moments from the team's three championship seasons in 1948, 1949 and 1960? Do you think about specific coaches and their respective eras, such as Dick Vermeil, Buddy Ryan and Andy Reid?
Can you vividly recall incredible plays, such as highlight-reel plays from Randall Cunningham or Donovan McNabb?
Or do you focus on the negatives, such as the losing seasons, the NFC championship losses and, of course, the lack of a Super Bowl title?
This article takes all of those into account. That's right, the good, the bad and even the ugly. There was no sugarcoating in this article. I'm a fan, but I wrote this as a neutral piece.
These slides will include moments from throughout all of the franchise's history, dating back to 1933, with a tendency to focus on more recent events if not for the simple fact that they are more memorable because they happened in recent years.
These moments are ranked in reverse order, with the final slide including a list of all 100 moments.
(Due to copyright restrictions, pictures of every moment or player cannot be provided. When possible, I included a video or a link to the player.)
100. 1952: Norm Willey 17 Sacks
It was a performance that should be immortalized with Babe Ruth's called shot in baseball, Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in basketball and Bob Beamon's record-shattering long jump in the 1968 Olympics, as Ron Pollack says in Pro Football Weekly.
In a single game against the division rival New York Giants in 1952, pass-rusher Norm Willey collected an incredible 17 sacks. That's not a typo either. Official records didn't start counting sacks until the 1980s, but Willey was credited with tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage 17 times for a total loss of 127 yards. Incredibly, he collected 11 of those sacks on consecutive plays, according to Hugh Brown of the Philadelphia Bulletin.
The exact number of sacks has been disputed, probably due to the absurdity of the amount. Willey himself has said that the Eagles used an incentive clause of $10 for each hit on the quarterback. Following the game, Willey received an envelope with $170.
According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Eagles had 14 sacks. Regardless of the exact amount, it's believable that he had the only double-digit sack total in league history.
99. 2005: Historic Monday Night Blowout Loss to Seattle
You'd be challenged to find a worse game in the Andy Reid era, and that includes the disaster of 2012. This was the definition of a team that had quit and just wanted the season to be over.
Against a powerful Seattle Seahawks squad on Monday Night Football, the Eagles suffered a 42-0 loss, the largest margin of defeat in Monday Night Football history. The game was so bad that the Seahawks led 42-0 just one minute into the third quarter and likely could have dropped more than 60 on the Eagles had they made any effort in the final half.
At quarterback, the hapless combination of Mike McMahon and Koy Detmer combined to complete 17 of 39 passes for 129 yards and four interceptions. Two were returned for scores, and Seattle also added a fumble return for a touchdown.
The Eagles did play the game without Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, and they also lost Brian Westbrook for the season with a foot injury. And lost in the disaster was the fact that the defense actually played well, surrendering just 21 total points and 194 yards of offense on 3.3 yards per play.
But with an offense as anemic as the Eagles had that day, Seattle needed just one touchdown to win.
98. 2011: Ronnie Brown Fumble
There are a number of plays from the 2011 season that are unforgettable: Steven Jackson's season-opening touchdown run, Victor Cruz out-jumping Nnamdi Asomugha and Chas Henry's failed fake-punt pass are three that stand out.
But Ronnie Brown's goal-line fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4 ranks as the single dumbest play I have ever seen by a professional football player.
The Eagles led 10-3 at the time of Brown's fumble (video) and increased their lead to 23-3 by the third quarter. But they ultimately lost, 24-23, in a game that ended up costing the 8-8 Eagles a playoff berth.
Brown's fumble led to the Eagles attempting to trade him to the Detroit Lions for running back Jerome Harrison, a trade that fell through when Harrison was discovered to have a brain tumor. After the season, Brown was predictably not re-signed.
97. 2002: Best Draft in Franchise History
The 2002 draft is the best in franchise history, and it's one of the primary reasons why the Eagles were the NFC's top team for the decade of the 2000s.
With the first four picks, Andy Reid selected four players who would combine for 27 seasons and 302 starts in Eagles uniforms: cornerback Lito Sheppard, safety Michael Lewis, cornerback Sheldon Brown and running back Brian Westbrook. Only Brown failed to make a Pro Bowl, yet he was arguably the most consistent of the big four, lasting eight years in an Eagles uniform.
Give Reid bonus points for selecting the pair of cornerbacks at the perfect time to replace veterans Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor, who were both approaching 30 years of age. The quartet's best season came in 2004, when Sheppard and Lewis reached the Pro Bowl, Brown turned in his usual stellar season and Westbrook added more than 1,500 yards of total offense.
96. 1991: Gang Green Collects 11 Sacks, Shuts Out Dallas
Although dismal offensive play made the 1991 season one of the more frustrating in Eagles history, games like the drubbing of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3 were what gave fans reason to watch this team.
The 24-0 pasting of the Dallas Cowboys was the maybe the most complete defensive performance in team history.
Eleven times the Eagles sacked Troy Aikman, still just one shy of the single-game record. Clyde Simmons led the charge with 4.5 sacks, while Jerome Brown collected 2.5 and Mike Golic recorded two.
Aikman also threw three interceptions, and the Cowboys recorded just 90 yards of total offense throughout the game.
95. 2005: Donovan McNabb Season-Ending Hernia in Dallas Comeback Win
The 2005 season will forever be remembered as one of the most disastrous in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. The absolute low point came on Monday Night Football, when McNabb saw both his and the team's season end.
McNabb had suffered a sports hernia in the first game of the season, but played through the injury for the first few months. Despite the T.O. drama, McNabb averaged (at the time) the seventh-most pass attempts per game in NFL history.
But the Eagles struggled, and a midseason game at home against Dallas would prove to be pivotal for the 4-4 Eagles.
The Eagles appeared to be in control, as they held a 20-7 lead late in the game. But the Cowboys scored to cut the lead to 20-14, and then came the nail in the coffin, as McNabb threw an interception touchdown to Roy Williams and re-injured his sports hernia attempting to make the tackle.
The Eagles lost the game, Mike McMahon replaced McNabb and the Birds dropped five of their final seven games to finish in last place in the NFC East.
94. 2007: Donovan McNabb Sacked 12 Times
Backup tackle Winston Justice allowed a ridiculous six sacks, all to defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
On the same day that the Phillies collected their first division title in 14 years, the Eagles dropped a 16-3 contest to fall to 1-3 for the season. Unlike previous seasons in which they had started slowly, they would not recover to make the postseason.
93. 1999: Fans Cheer Michael Irvin's Career-Ending Injury
Let's say you were to make a list of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the Eagles fanbase. This would likely be No. 1.
When receiver Michael Irvin was tackled by safety Tim Hauck in the fifth game of the 1999 season, he suffered a non-life-threatening cervical spinal cord injury that ended his career.
How did Philadelphia fans react? They cheered.
It's a low moment and it's unacceptable, even considering Irvin's dominance against Philly (and the rest of the NFL) over the previous decade. All NFL fanbases have had their weak moments. This was Philly's weakest.
92. 1991: Rich Kotite Named Head Coach over Jeff Fisher
When the Eagles fired head coach Buddy Ryan following his third straight home wild-card loss in the postseason, they had two legitimate choices to promote to head coach: offensive coordinator Rich Kotite or defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher.
Kotite had just led quarterback Randall Cunningham to the MVP award, while Fisher had turned the Eagles' defense into one of the game's best over the previous three seasons.
The Eagles chose Kotite and the move proved to be catastrophic, as he lasted just four seasons and proved to be far worse than his coaching record of 35-29.
Fisher left to become the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams and was named the head coach of the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) in 1994. He coached for 17 seasons, earning six postseason appearances and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Had the Eagles promoted Fisher to head coach instead of Kotite, there's a chance that the Eagles could have competed with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers among the top teams in the NFC. It's not likely, but it's possible. Fisher has proven to be a very good coach, while Kotite is considered by many as one of the worst coaches in NFL history.
91. 2001: Damon Moore Tackle Wins Division
Needing a victory to clinch their first NFC East title in 13 seasons, the Eagles trailed the hated New York Giants 21-14 with just two minutes remaining. No worries.
Donovan McNabb threw a quick touchdown pass to Chad Lewis, the defense made a stop and David Akers kicked a field goal with seven seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 24-21 lead.
Then the unthinkable happened. The Giants needed to go 80 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play. Kerry Collins tossed a pass over the middle to Tiki Barber, who flipped a lateral to speedy receiver Ron Dixon.
Dixon headed down the sideline, a wall of blockers in front of him. He crossed midfield, the 40, the 30, the 20, the 10, until safety Damon Moore made a flying tackle at the 4-yard line to end the game.
The play was the longest the Eagles allowed from 2000 to 2006, yet somehow it didn't matter. The Eagles were back in the postseason.
90. 2006: Matt Bryant 62-Yard Field Goal
You really can't find a more devastating regular-season moment in the Andy Reid era.
The Eagles trailed early against the Tampa Buccaneers, falling behind 17-0 as an old nemesis, Ronde Barber, returned two scores for touchdowns. But Donovan McNabb rallied the Eagles, and a 52-yard touchdown pass to Brian Westbrook (who broke four tackles) with just 33 seconds remaining gave the Eagles an improbable 21-20 lead.
But 33 seconds is an eternity. Rookie Bruce Gradkowski led the Bucs to the 45 with just four seconds remaining. The choices: a 62-yard field goal for a kicker who was 0-of-3 above 40 yards on the season or a Hail Mary?
The Bucs opted for the field goal, and Bryant's kick incredibly cleared the crossbar (video).
Despite outgaining the Bucs 503 yards to 196, the Eagles committed four turnovers and lost 23-21.
89. 1994: Blowout Victory over Eventual Super Bowl Champions
The Eagles' victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth game of the 1994 season might be the single most impressive regular-season win in team history.
Consider this: The Eagles jumped out to a 30-8 halftime lead against the 49ers, who eventually pulled Steve Young from the game long before its conclusion. The Eagles would win 40-8, thanks to dominant performances from Randall Cunningham, Charlie Garner and Calvin Williams.
The game was a microcosm of the Eagles' first half of the season, as the team started 7-2. But a brutal seven-game losing streak ended the season, while the 49ers recovered to win 13 games, score more than 500 points and cruise to their fifth Super Bowl title.
88. 1995: Mike Mamula Drafted
Consider the Eagles the first team to fall victim to a workout warrior at the NFL draft. That's essentially what defensive end Mike Mamula was. Yes, he had a great college career at Boston College, but he also impressed scouts and coaches with his exceptional performances in the drills at the scouting combine.
Mamula wooed the Eagles enough that the team selected the pass-rusher with the seventh overall pick. Big mistake.
Although Mamula had a much better career than he is given credit for in Philly, he played just five seasons, missed another one due to injuries and retired after 2000 with just 31.5 career sacks.
Five picks after Mamula, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1999 and earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
87. 2002: Hugh Douglas Knocks out Jim Miller in NFC Divisional Round
This game featured the top two defenses in the NFL, as the Eagles traveled to Chicago to play the Bears in the divisional round of the playoffs.
But the Eagles wouldn't be intimidated. Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas knocked Bears quarterback Jim Miller out of the game with a separated shoulder in the second quarter as Miller attempted to make a tackle following an interception.
The play killed the morale of the Bears, as the Eagles rolled to an easy 33-19 victory.
Douglas was fined $35,000 for the hit, but he says he didn't do anything the Bears wouldn't do. Neither would the Eagles, who advanced to the first of four straight NFC Championship Games.
86. 1994: Wet Chart Game
Rich Kotite had his hands full when he replaced Buddy Ryan, who, despite an 0-3 playoff record, was one of the most beloved coaches in Philadelphia Eagles history.
It was coaching decisions like the one he made against the Dallas Cowboys in October 1994 that ensured he'll forever be despised in Philly.
Against the back-to-back Super Bowl champions, the Eagles trailed 24-7 but added a touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-13. Rather than kick the extra point, Kotite ordered his team to go for the two-point conversion, a decision that makes absolutely zero sense.
The Eagles failed to convert, and after the game Kotite blamed his poor decision on the rain, which had made the chart wet and difficult to read. The Eagles rebounded from the loss to win their next three games and improve to 7-2, but an embarrassing seven-game losing streak ended both the season and the Rich Kotite era in Philadelphia.
85. 2007: Brian Westbrook Kneels on One-Yard Line
Would you sacrifice a touchdown and a 95 percent chance of victory if it meant guaranteeing a victory? All running backs would say they would, but against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 of the 2007 season, Brian Westbrook actually did it.
The Eagles led Dallas 10-6 with just over two minutes to go. In the huddle, veteran offensive tackle Jon Runyan told Brian Westbrook to take a knee at the 1-yard line if he broke free, which would allow the team to run out the clock and clinch a victory.
Sure enough, Westbrook broke free, darted down to the one-yard line and fell down to ensure the team's sixth victory of the season (and just the second loss for Dallas).
The selfless, team-first attitude displayed by Westbrook exemplifies exactly why the former Pro Bowler was one of the most popular players on the team.
84. 1986: New Head Coach Buddy Ryan Guarantees Division Title
New Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan immediately became a fan favorite before the 1986 season when he guaranteed a division title in his first season.
Ultimately, that statement was unrealistic, as the Eagles had very little talent on their team. Ryan didn't make many popular decisions at first either, releasing running back Earnest Jackson and using a two-quarterback system with veteran Ron Jaworski and rookie Randall Cunningham.
But his superior drafting ability led to the Eagles producing one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL. By 1988, the Eagles were a playoff team.
83. 1958: New Coach Buck Shaw Trades for Norm Van Brocklin
Buck Shaw left the Air Force to become the Eagles head coach, taking over a team that had finished 4-8 in 1957. The first thing Shaw did was trade two players and a first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for veteran quarterback Norm Van Brocklin.
Van Brocklin had split the quarterback duties with Bob Waterfield in Los Angeles, where the duo helped lead the Rams to three championship appearances and a title following the 1951 season.
His goal in Philadelphia was to try to help revive a team that hadn't experienced success since the late 1940s.
82. 1987: Buddy Ryan Revenge Touchdown vs. Dallas
Buddy Ryan never won a playoff game during his five years in Philadelphia, but it was moments like the one against the Dallas Cowboys on October 25, 1987 that endeared him to Eagles fans forever.
The Eagles led 30-20 in the final seconds of a game against the Cowboys. Victory was guaranteed, but that wasn't enough for Ryan. It was never enough to just beat the Cowboys. Ryan needed to humiliate them.
Two weeks earlier, Cowboys coach Tom Landry had used seven of his regular players to beat the Eagles' replacement players during the strike. Ryan took that personally. Landry was about to pay.
So after Randall Cunningham kneeled down on first and second down, Ryan had the quarterback throw deep to Mike Quick on the game's final play. Interference was called on Dallas cornerback Everson Walls, giving the Eagles an untimed play. Running back Keith Byars plunged in from the 1-yard line, giving the Eagles a 37-20 victory.
81. 1976: Vince Papale Goes from Bartender to NFL Player
There's no denying it. The real Vince Papale story is about one-tenth as cool as the movie makes it seem.
In the movie Invincible, Papale was a 30-year-old bartender whose football days consisted of pickup games with friends. At the encouragement of friends, he attended an open tryout for the Eagles at Veterans Stadium, where he impressed rookie head coach Dick Vermeil and eventually earned the final roster spot at receiver/special teams.
In reality, Papale was a semi-pro football player whose impressive game footage had impressed Vermeil enough for the rookie head coach to invite the 30-year-old in for a personal tryout. Still really cool, but a big difference from the way it's perceived in the movie.
But that's Hollywood for you. It's still a pretty awesome story.
Papale lasted three seasons in the NFL, playing in 41 games. His lone reception, a 15-yarder, came during the 1977 season. His reputation as a pretty good special teams player is real, as is the forced fumble on the punt against the Giants at the end of the movie.
80. 1993: Comeback in New Orleans Playoff Game
Trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter on the road against the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles appeared to be well on their way to losing their sixth consecutive postseason game, dating back to Super Bowl XV.
What happened next was the highest-scoring quarter in Eagles postseason history.
First, a deep pass from Randall Cunningham to Fred Barnett cut the deficit to 20-17. A Heath Sherman rushing touchdown gave Philly the lead, and a safety by Reggie White put the Eagles up by six.
And a field goal and an Eric Allen interception-return touchdown gave the Eagles an easy 36-20 victory.
79. 1977: Charle Young Traded for Ron Jaworski
The Charle Young for Ron Jaworski trade is the most memorable in team history. Young, the sixth overall pick by the Eagles in the '73 draft, had earned three Pro Bowl selections in his first four years in the NFL. But Jaworski, a second-round pick by the Rams in 1973, sat on the bench for four years behind James Harris.
With the Eagles, Jaworski immediately became the starter, where he blossomed into one of the league's better starting quarterbacks. In 1980, he won the Bert Bell Player of the Year Award, throwing for 27 touchdowns and leading the Eagles to the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance.
With the Rams, Young compiled a total of 392 receiving yards and three touchdowns in three years before finishing his career with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Interestingly enough, the trade was actually illegal at the time because both players had already completed their contracts. But the league decided to allow it anyway.
78. 2007: Sheldon Brown Hits Reggie Bush
Other than Chuck Bednarik's massive hit on Frank Gifford in 1960, this is the most famous hit in franchise history. Brian Dawkins called it the hardest hit he's ever seen.
On the first play of the Eagles' NFC divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees dumped off a pass to rookie running back Reggie Bush, who was absolutely crushed by Sheldon Brown. The massive blindsided hit jarred the ball loose from Bush. I still think the play should have been called a fumble.
It would have been nice if the Eagles used the momentum from Brown's big blow to upset the Saints on the road, but they fell short, ultimately dropping a 27-24 contest.
77. 1969: Leonard Tose Buys Eagles
When the Eagles were sold to the Happy Hundred in 1949, Leonard Tose was one of the original buyers. He attempted to purchase the Eagles in 1963 but lost out on the bidding to Jerry Wolman.
In 1969, he bought the Eagles for $16.155 million, an NFL record for a single franchise. He immediately fired head coach Joe Kuharich, who had been given a lifetime contract by owner Jerry Wolman in 1963, even thought it meant paying off the last 10 years of Kuharich's contract.
Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski described Tose as the “consummate owner. He allowed the coaches to coach and the players to play. He'd come into a team meeting and tell us that his door was always open but made it clear he didn't want to have to talk about football (source: The Eagles Encyclopedia book).”
Tose's lasting legacy, other than his struggles with gambling, was his attempt to move the franchise to Phoenix in 1984. In the end, he decided against the move, and the Eagles have remained in Philadelphia ever since. He found himself in debt in 1985, selling the team to Norman Braman for $65 million.
76. 1949: Chuck Bednarik Drafted First Overall
Greasy Neale's decision to draft Chuck Bednarik as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1949 draft is the best draft selection in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bednarik turned in a 14-year career that ranks among the most dominant in NFL history. He earned 10 All-Pro selections and missed just three games in his 14-year career.
His biggest legacy is playing both offense and defense down the stretch in the '60 title season, as an injury to linebacker Bob Pelligrini in the season's fifth game forced Bednarik into the starting spot at linebacker, as well as center.
At age 35, the last of the NFL's Sixty-Minute Men helped secure the team's last championship by tackling Packers' Hall of Fame running back Jim Taylor on the 8-yard line in the game's final seconds.
75. 2008: Donovan McNabb Benched in Baltimore
For the first time since the Eagles selected Donovan McNabb with the second pick in the 1999 draft, the team's future at the quarterback position appeared to be in jeopardy.
Following a three-interception game against the Cincinnati Bengals in which McNabb admitted that he didn't know a game could end in a tie, the Eagles faced the Baltimore Ravens, who had one of the league's stingiest defenses.
In the first half, McNabb threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, giving him six turnovers in his last six quarters of play. That led to his shocking benching, as Kevin Kolb made his NFL debut. His performance was even worse, as Kolb threw an interception that was returned by Reed 107 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles suffered an embarrassing 36-7 loss.
But everything ended well, thankfully. The Eagles, behind McNabb, won four of their next five games and eventually advanced to their fifth NFC Championship Game in eight seasons.
74. 1997: Tommy Hutton Game
You could easily make a case for Tommy Hutton's dropped snap as the most embarrassing play in franchise history.
Victory seemed inevitable for the Eagles against the hated Cowboys on Monday Night Football. After Dallas took the lead with only 51 seconds remaining, the Eagles drove 80 yards in 47 seconds to set up an easy 22-yard game-winning field-goal attempt. That's a chip shot and any high school team could covert on this play 95 percent of the time.
But the incredible happened, as holder Tommy Hutton dropped the ball, costing the Eagles a victory.
In the grand scheme of things, it meant nothing. The Eagles finished 6-9-1 and would have missed the playoffs even with the victory. But try telling Eagles fans that a victory over the hated Cowboys on prime-time TV wouldn't have made the season a little bit better.
73. 1996: James Willis Interception, Troy Vincent Touchdown Stun Dallas
You literally couldn't have scripted a more dramatic victory against a more hated opponent.
The Eagles led the Dallas Cowboys 24-21 with less than a minute remaining, but the 'Boys were faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the 3-yard line and seemed certain to hand the Eagles their seventh straight loss at Texas Stadium.
Then the incredible happened. The Eagles pressured Troy Aikman, who slung the ball in the end zone, intended for tight end Tyji Armstrong. Linebacker James Willis stepped in front of the pass, grabbed it and headed the other way. After 14 yards, he lateraled to cornerback Troy Vincent, who returned the ball the final 90 yards for the game-clinching score.
Willis's game-winning play helped the Eagles qualify for a wild-card berth in the NFC.
(Looking back, Willis realizes his two major mistakes from the play. He should have taken a knee as soon as he intercepted the ball, and he should never have lateraled the ball to a teammate.)
72. 1989: Randall Cunningham 91-Yard Punt
But in 1989, the Eagles actually used quarterback Randall Cunningham as their regular punter. John Teltschik, the regular punter, was injured and backup Max Runager was struggling. After all, Cunningham had been an All-American punter at UNLV.
So on fourth down, backed up in his own end zone, Cunningham unleashed a punt that will be talked for about the rest of time.
The ball officially traveled 91 yards, but it likely would have gone five or even 10 more yards had it not been picked up on a bounce by Giants returner Dave Meggett.
The play came with the score tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter. On the next play, Mike Golic strip-sacked Phil Simms and Keith Byars scored the game-winning touchdown on a two-yard run.
71. 1964: Joe Kuharich Given 15-Year Deal as Head Coach
It was a move that would never happen in this era of the NFL. In an unprecedented move, Eagles owner Jerry Wolman signed Joe Kuharich to a lucrative 15-year deal as the team's head coach. Let's just say that Kuharich didn't exactly cement his place in team lore.
The first thing he did was trade away a pair of future Hall of Famers, quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and wide receiver Tommy McDonald. In six seasons with the Eagles, he led the team to just one winning season. In his final year, the Eagles started 0-11 and chants of "Joe must go" were frequent at Eagles home games.
Kuharich was fired after the ’68 season, ending an absolutely miserable reign in Philadelphia.
70. 2002: NFC Title Loss to Greatest Show on Turf
The fact that the Eagles even made an appearance in the 2001 NFC Championship Game was impressive itself. Philly was a young team, led by 25-year-old quarterback Donovan McNabb and a powerful defense that featured Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter.
But the Eagles had their work cut out for them as they traveled to St. Louis to play The Greatest Show On Turf, featuring MVP Kurt Warner and Offensive Player of the Year Marshall Faulk.
The Eagles put up a fight, taking a 17-13 halftime lead. But Aeneas Williams intercepted a pass on the final drive and the Rams collected a 29-24 victory.
That was okay. Everybody knew the Eagles would be back the next year. And they were. (And the next. And the next.)
69. 1964: Sonny Jurgensen Traded for Norm Snead
Sonny Jurgensen led the NFL in touchdown passes during the 1960s. Norm Snead led the league in interceptions.
In typical Eagles fashion, the team traded Jurgensen for Snead in 1964, despite Jurgensen's remarkable success with the Eagles. In 1961, the 27-year-old threw 32 touchdown passes and set a single-season record with 3723 passing yards.
Jurgensen would play 11 seasons in Washington, where he became the most successful quarterback between Sammy Baugh and Joe Theismann. Snead lasted seven seasons in Philly, never posting a winning record and leading the NFL in interceptions twice.
68. 1961: Norm Van Brocklin Leaves Eagles to Become Minnesota's First Head Coach
Norm Van Brocklin thought he had the perfect situation lined up in Philadelphia. After winning league MVP honors and leading the Eagles to the NFL championship in 1960, he retired with the understanding that he would replace retired Buck Shaw as the team's head coach.
Only that never happened. The relationship between Van Brocklin and the Eagles went sour, and the team chose to hire Nick Skorich as the head coach.
Van Brocklin headed to the expansion Minnesota Vikings, where he coached for six seasons before his tumultuous relationship with future Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton led to his resignation before the 1967 season.
67. 2002: A.J. Feeley Era
Following the broken ankle suffered by Donovan McNabb midway through the 2002 season, the Eagles needed a strong performance from their quarterback to stay in the playoff hunt. When veteran backup Koy Detmer suffered a dislocated elbow while leading the Eagles to a victory against the San Francisco 49ers, even the most optimistic fans had serious doubts about the ability of the team to reach the playoffs.
Enter A.J. Feeley. The second-year quarterback performed remarkably down the stretch, throwing six touchdowns against five interceptions while leading the Eagles to a 4-1 record.
McNabb was able to return for the postseason, and Feeley's stock rose to the extent that the Eagles were able to swindle the Miami Dolphins into sending a second-round pick for Feeley.
66. 2000: Onside Kick in Dallas Begins Decade of Dominance
Talk about making a statement. When head coach Andy Reid started the 2000 season with a successful onside kick against the Dallas Cowboys, he had no idea how significant the play would be.
It wasn't just the fact that the Eagles knocked out Troy Aikman in the first quarter and won the game 41-14 behind Duce Staley's 201 rushing yards, a game in which trainer Rick Burkholder gave the players pickle juice to keep them hydrated during battle.
It was the fact that the Eagles turned into the division's most dominant team, a stretch that would last for a full decade. The Eagles had been just 14-33-1 in the previous three seasons and had won just one of their previous 10 games in Dallas.
But they posted eight winning seasons in the next 10 years and had more than their fair share of dominant performances against the Cowboys.
65. 2006: Lito Sheppard Interception Touchdown Wins T.O.'s Return to Philly
The return of Terrell Owens to Philadelphia might have been the single most hyped NFL game of the 2006 season. It certainly lived up the billing.
The Eagles and Cowboys exchanged blows throughout the game, with Donovan McNabb throwing for 354 yards and three scores and Dallas scoring on both offense and defense.
In the final few minutes, the Eagles held a 31-24 lead, but Dallas converted a 4th-and-18 on a pass-interference penalty, setting them up for a potential game-tying touchdown.
Enter Lito Sheppard, who stepped in front of Drew Bledsoe's errant pass and returned it 102 yards for a game-clinching interception-return touchdown.
The victory improved the Eagles to 4-1 and led to the Cowboys replacing former No. 1 overall draft pick Drew Bledsoe with undrafted free agent Tony Romo.
64. 1985: Mike Quick Goes 99 in Overtime
The day couldn't have been going worse for the Eagles. They blew a 17-point lead against an Atlanta Falcons team that was just 1-8 on the season and were backed up on their own 1-yard line in overtime.
The Eagles just wanted to gain a few yards and get some breathing room. Enter Ron Jaworski and Mike Quick.
The duo connected on an incredible 99-yard touchdown pass to win the game. The play is one of 13 in history to go for 99 yards and is the only one to occur in overtime.
63. 1936: Eagles Select Heisman QB with First-Ever Draft Pick
With the first overall pick in the first-ever NFL draft, held in 1936, the Philadelphia Eagles selected quarterback Jay Berwanger, the Heisman Trophy winner from the previous season.
But Berwanger refused to sign when the Eagles would not match his demands of $1,000 per game. Berwanger was traded to the Chicago Bears, but head coach George Halas also couldn't come to an agreement with Berwanger on his salary.
So Berwanger never played a single down in the NFL, a completely wasted pick by the Eagles. Instead, he became a sportswriter and later a manufacturer of plastic car parts.
62. 1991: House of Pain
“They brought the house. We brought the pain.” That's what defensive tackle Jerome Brown said after a 1991 regular-season contest between the Eagles and the Houston Oilers, and to this day, it remains one of the most cherished moments in franchise history.
The Eagles faced Warren Moon and his two great receivers, Haywood Jeffies and Ernest Givins. The Oilers' run-and-shoot offense had produced 4,805 passing yards and more than 400 points the previous season. They looked as if they might eclipse both of those records in 1991, with a 9-3 record through the first 12 games.
Enter Wes Hopkins. The Eagles' hard-hitting safety shattered the nose of Givins on a crossing route. The hit changed the complexion of the remainder of the game, as the Oilers were literally afraid to go across the middle.
They finished the game with just six points, both on field goals. The Eagles' Gang Green defense collected five sacks and forced four turnovers.
61. 1947: Eagles Lose NFL Championship to Cardinals
The Eagles experienced their first year of both postseason success and postseason disappointment in 1947.
The Eagles allowed Cardinals running back Elmer Angsman to rush 10 times for 159 yards and two scores, both 70-yard gallops. They also surrendered a 75-yard punt return to Charley Trippi.
Meanwhile, Steve Van Buren, the best offensive player on the Eagles, rushed 18 times for just 26 yards.
60. 1943: Eagles, Steelers Form One Team
The Eagles recorded exactly zero winning seasons in the franchise's first 10 years. In fact, they won two or fewer games seven times.
The incredible irony of the team's first winning season, which came in 1943, is that the Eagles actually combined their team with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result of player shortage due to the Second World War.
The result was a 5-4-1 season that helped jump start the second-most successful decade in franchise history.
59. 2007: 56 Points in 75th Anniversary Game
Using their throwback 75th anniversary jerseys, the Philadelphia Eagles collected their first victory of the 2007 season behind one of the most dominant offensive showings in franchise history.
The Eagles scored 42 points in the first half, coasting to a 56-21 blowout victory over the Detroit Lions.
Donovan McNabb turned in the first perfect passer rating of his career, completing 21 of 26 passes for 381 yards and four scores. Kevin Curtis did most of the damage, catching 11 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns (including 205 yards in the first half).
Brian Westbrook added more than 100 yards on the ground and through the air, scoring three touchdowns. And the Eagles collected nine sacks as a defense, including 3.5 by Trent Cole.
(Play No. 5 in the video is from the Eagles-Detroit game.)
58. 1993: Eric Allen Greatest Interception Return in NFL History
NFL Network named it the greatest interception return in league history.
The Eagles trailed the Jets 28-23 in the fourth quarter of a 1993 contest, a game in which the team had lost quarterback Randall Cunningham and receiver Fred Barnett for the season with knee injuries. The Jets were deep in Eagles territory and another touchdown would put the game away.
But cornerback Eric Allen stepped in front of a Boomer Esiason pass, and a few spins and stutter-steps later, had traveled 94 yards for the game-winning touchdown. In a memorable moment, he ran up to Cunningham in the tunnel and handed him the ball.
The score was one of four interceptions Allen would take back for a touchdown that season.
57. 1995: 58 Points in Playoff Victory Against Detroit
Call it the most dominant victory in Philadelphia Eagles postseason history. Easily.
Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown had guaranteed a victory in the Wild Card Round against the Eagles.
But Brown could not possibly have been more wrong, as the Eagles jumped out to a 38-7 halftime lead, the final play a Hail Mary touchdown pass from Rodney Peete to Rob Carpenter.
The Eagles increased their lead to 51-7 and rolled to an easy 58-37 victory, intercepting six passes from two different quarterbacks.
The highlight was Eagles fans chanting "LOMAS" over and over again after the game's outcome had already been decided.
56. 1999: Andy Reid Named Head Coach
Let's look at the Eagles' head coaches before Andy Reid.
Ray Rhodes had been a stud defensive coach with the San Francisco 49ers, winning five Super Bowl rings. Rich Kotite had served as the offensive coordinator for the '90 Eagles, helping Randall Cunningham win league MVP honors. And Buddy Ryan had worked as the defensive coordinator for the legendary Super Bowl champion '85 Bears.
Compare that to Andy Reid, who had never worked as an offensive or defensive coordinator in the NFL. Yes, he had helped Brett Favre win three MVPs as the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers in the mid-'90s. But no experience as a coordinator doesn't usually warrant a head-coaching offer.
It paid off, though.
Reid took the 3-13 Eagles to the playoffs within two seasons. He led Philly to seven division titles, nine postseason victories and a Super Bowl appearance, earning a well-deserved reputation as the most successful coach in franchise history.
55. 1994: Season-Ending Seven-Game Losing Streak Ends Rich Kotite Era
It's pretty difficult to judge the Rich Kotite era.
On one hand, the Eagles had won 10 games and sported the league's best defense in 1991 without Randall Cunningham, and they earned a wild-card berth in 1992. Then again, everybody knew that Kotite's success came using players from the Buddy Ryan era.
But they also finished 8-8 in 1993 after a hot 4-0 start.
And the 1994 season essentially clinched Kotite's reputation in Philly. First, there was the wet chart game. And then there was the embarrassing seven-game losing streak to end the season.
The Eagles went from 7-2, a virtual playoff lock and challengers to the 49ers and Cowboys as one of the top teams in the NFC, to their first losing record in seven years.
Goodbye, Rich Kotite.
54. 2009: Dallas Losses End Donovan McNabb Era
Never have I seen an Eagles team as unprepared for a big game as they were for the season finale in 2009. With the NFC East division title on the line, the Eagles were crushed by the Dallas Cowboys, 24-0. The loss gave them the final wild-card spot in the playoffs instead of a first-round bye.
It was the Cowboys whom the Eagles faced the following week, and incredibly, the exact same thing happened. The Eagles were destroyed, 34-14, in a game that wasn't even as close as the score indicated.
A valid argument could be made that quarterback Donovan McNabb shouldn't have been the only one shipped out of Philly after the season. Andy Reid saw the Eagles continue a downward plunge for the next three seasons before he was finally stripped of his head coaching duties.
53. 2006: Jeff Garcia Era
The Jeff Garcia era was one of the most unlikely (and shortest) periods of success in franchise history.
The Eagles started off the 2006 season as one of the best teams in the NFL, winning four of their first five games. But they dropped five of their next six contests, and a torn ACL for Donovan McNabb against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11 all but ended the season.
Head coach Andy Reid chose the veteran Jeff Garcia as his replacement for McNabb, even though A.J. Feeley, who had successfully filled in for McNabb for five games late in 2002, was also on the roster. Reid absolutely made the correct choice.
Garcia led the Eagles to four straight victories down the stretch, including three in a row on the road against the NFC East. He engineered fourth-quarter comebacks against the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants in the regular season, and helped the Eagles to a wild-card victory with an impressive last-second drive against the Giants.
Lost in the excitement over the revival of Garcia's career was the tremendous play of Brian Westbrook down the stretch, as well as that of the entire defense.
52. 2005: Terrell Owens Super Bowl Performance
Everything was going absolutely perfectly for the Eagles late in the 2004 season. The team was cruising, having clinched the division title by the end of November and home-field advantage by mid-December. They appeared a lock to finally reach the Super Bowl, especially considering the weak NFC class.
Then disaster struck. All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens, arguably the team's most valuable player that season, suffered a broken ankle on a horse-collar tackle by Dallas safety Roy Williams on December 19. (Horse-collar tackles have since been banned.)
Almost nobody gave the Eagles' best player a chance to return from his injury before the Super Bowl, which was just seven weeks away. But don't ever count out Terrell Owens.
An extensive training program was put together by trainer Rick Burkholder, who in 1995 had helped defensive back Rod Woodson play in the Super Bowl just four-and-a-half months after suffering a torn ACL. But this was less than two months and Owens' injury was severe. Although the Eagles did advance to the Super Bowl and Owens did dress, he was expected to be just a decoy.
Nope. He was the best player on the Eagles, catching nine passes for 122 yards, including 51 yards in the final quarter. The Eagles lost 24-21, but Owens had nothing to do with the loss and everything to do with the Eagles keeping the game as close as they did.
Owens' ensuing fallout in Philly has all but erased his memorable Super Bowl performance from the minds of most Philly fans, which drops his ranking on this list about 50 spots lower than it should be.
51. 2011: Juan Castillo Named Defensive Coordinator
An argument could be made that legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was even more important to the Eagles during the team's dominant stretch during the 2000s than head coach Andy Reid. But Johnson died in the summer of 2009, and the defense significantly declined over the next couple of seasons under Sean McDermott. The Eagles' offense thrived in 2010 under a career year from Michael Vick, and the team appeared to be close to one of the league's best heading into 2011.
That's what makes the decision to hire offensive line coach Juan Castillo as the defensive coordinator one of the single worst coaching hires in the history of the National Football League. It worked about as well as you'd expect it to.
Castillo was overmatched from day one, especially in the fourth quarters of close games. The Eagles blew five leads in the fourth quarter, including four on their home field. Had they won just one of those five games, they would have qualified for the postseason, preventing the New York Giants from capturing their second Super Bowl title.
Castillo's on-the-job training was ended following the sixth game of the 2012 season, although by that point the defense was actually playing well (and interim defensive coordinator Todd Bowles proved to be actually worse than Castillo).
In something that would only happen in Philadelphia sports, Castillo actually captured a Super Bowl ring, as he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens in late January to serve as their run-game coordinator.
50. 2004: Donovan McNabb 14.1-Second Scramble
You could make a legitimate case that this is the single most athletic play by a quarterback in the history of the National Football League.
With the Eagles leading 28-14 late in the second quarter and the ball on their own 25-yard line, McNabb took the snap and was pressured after about a second.
Defensive tackle Leonardo Carson ran untouched past left guard Artis Hicks and had a free shot at McNabb around the 15-yard line. He actually wrapped his arms around McNabb, but the Eagles quarterback spun to the left to avoid Carson. Guard Artis Hicks came in to block Carson, and McNabb began to move to the right side of the field.
Cowboys defensive tackle La’Roi Glover dove at McNabb’s feet but missed, and McNabb continued moving back and to the right of the field.
Defensive end Greg Ellis pursued McNabb all the way to within a few yards of the right sideline. At this point, McNabb had traveled 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage, back to the 9-yard line. Then McNabb stutter-stepped, almost slipping, and began sprinting all the way back across the left side of the field.
Glover attempted pursuing McNabb but was immediately blocked by guard Jermane Mayberry. Defensive end Eric Ogbogu also pursued McNabb but was blocked by big Jon Runyan.
McNabb sprinted forward and to the left, moving all the way to the left side of the field. He was chased by Carson (again) and Ellis (again). He pump-faked twice but kept moving to his left.
When McNabb got to the 23-yard line, he threw the ball.
He released the ball off his back foot, which, while sprinting to one's left, is a virtually impossible task for a right-handed quarterback.
The ball traveled 54 yards in the air, from the Eagles’ 23-yard line to the Cowboys’ 23-yard line. It landed right into the hands of wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, who caught it and was tackled after a few steps. In all, the play gained 60 yards.
Factoring everything in, the throw was probably the best of Donovan McNabb’s career. And for obvious reasons, so was the scramble. In fact, the scramble was timed at 14.1 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to the moment McNabb let go of the ball.
49. 2008: Donovan McNabb Doesn't Know Tie Rules
It wasn't bad enough that the Eagles put their entire season in jeopardy following am embarrassing 13-13 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals, who had entered the game with a 1-8 record.
After the game, McNabb, who had thrown three interceptions during the game, admitted to reporters that he didn't know a game could end in a tie.
That's right. Despite playing in the league in 2002, when the Falcons and Steelers tied, McNabb had no idea that the game's extra session was in fact its last.
48. 2011: Vince Young Dream Team Comment
It ranks as one of the most arrogant, ill-timed and stupid comments in franchise history.
At his introductory press conference in Philadelphia, backup quarterback Vince Young boldly called the Eagles a “dream team” following the signings of a number of star free-agent players, including Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin.
The moniker stuck with the team all season long, as the Eagles dropped four of their first five games and stumbled to an embarrassing 8-8 finish.
It didn't help that Young was a total disaster during three starts in midseason. He did lead the Eagles to an impressive last-minute victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive, but he completely self-destructed against the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
In just 114 passes, Young threw nine interceptions and posted a passer rating that barely eclipsed his completion percentage. The Eagles released him after the season, and more than a year later, he has not thrown another pass in the NFL.
47. 2002: Donovan McNabb Throws Four Touchdowns on Broken Ankle
For all the talk about Donovan McNabb being soft and sensitive, not enough credit has been given for his performance against the Arizona Cardinals in 2002.
On the third play of the game, McNabb was sacked by safety Adrian Wilson. He suffered a broken ankle. But instead of leaving the game, McNabb stayed in, even refusing an x-ray at halftime by denying the severity of the injury.
When the dust settled, McNabb had completed 20 of 25 passes for 255 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He didn't record a single rushing attempt for the first time in his career.
The victory kept the Eagles a game ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC East, but it proved costly, as McNabb would miss the final six games of the regular season.
46. 2013: Chip Kelly Hired
Not a single game as head coach and the Chip Kelly hiring is one of the most memorable moments in franchise history? Absolutely.
Kelly is an offensive genius whose fast-paced, no-huddle style of play has revolutionized college football. His methods have been adapted by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who implemented parts of the system for his 2012 offense.
Kelly's five-year, $32 million deal is a major leap of faith for a coach who has literally never spent a single season coaching at any level in the NFL. The 2013 season will be too early to judge Kelly, but by the end of 2015, fans should have a pretty good idea on whether Kelly is the next Jimmy Johnson or the next Steve Spurrier.
Don't be surprised either if the continued development and future success of either Nick Foles or Matt Barkley is what makes or breaks Kelly's career.
45. 1968: Late Victories Blow Chance for O.J. Simpson
The only consolation for the miserable 1968 Eagles season was that the team appeared to be on track to drafting Heisman-winning running back O.J. Simpson. After all, the Eagles were 0-11, the only remaining winless team in the league.
But in typical Philly fashion, the Eagles collected a pair of meaningless victories to improve to 2-11. They lost the season finale, the infamous Santa Claus game, but it didn't matter, as the Buffalo Bills, owners of a 1-13 record, won the right to draft Simpson.
In 11 seasons in the NFL, Simpson rushed for more than 10,000 yards, including the first-ever 2,000-yard season. He is widely regarded as one of the top five running backs in league history.
As a consolation prize, the Eagles drafted running back Leroy Keyes with the third overall pick. He spent one miserable season at running back, averaging fewer than three yards per carry, before the Eagles converted him to defensive back. He was off the Eagles after just four seasons.
44. 2012: Eight-Game Losing Streak Ends Andy Reid Era
The 2012 season may have been the most disappointing in franchise history, as the Eagles were full of confidence heading into the year, despite their struggles from the previous year. Quarterback Michael Vick even proclaimed that the Eagles had the potential to turn into a dynasty, an outrageous comment that ranks up there with Vince Young's dream team comment from the previous year.
What happened in 2012 was not the beginning of a dynasty, but rather the end of an era. After a 3-1 start that included a trio of dramatic late-game victories, the Eagles proceeded to lose eight consecutive games. During that span, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and defensive line coach Jim Washburn were fired, and Michael Vick was concussed and subsequently benched for rookie Nick Foles.
By the time the Eagles collected their fourth victory of the season (on a walk-off touchdown), the damage had been done. There would be no postseason and no renewing of Reid's contract. After 14 seasons, nine postseason appearances, five trips to the conference championship game and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Andy Reid era was officially finished.
43. 2010: Donovan McNabb Traded
The rumors had been swirling around for a couple of seasons that Donovan McNabb might be on his way out in Philadelphia. The inevitable finally happened following the 2009 season, which saw the Eagles blown out by the Dallas Cowboys in the postseason.
That was the straw that broke the camel's back for Eagles' management. After 11 seasons and seven trips to the postseason, it had become obvious that Donovan McNabb was never going to win a Super Bowl.
In a shocking development, McNabb was traded within the division to the Washington Redskins for a second-round draft pick. Clearly, Andy Reid wasn't afraid that the 33-year old would be a threat in the future.
He was right, too, as McNabb threw a career-high 15 interceptions and was benched twice during a very dramatic season in the nation's capital. Although he had signed a five-year, $78 million extension in November, McNabb performed poorly, was eventually demoted to third-string and promptly was shipped out to the Minnesota Vikings following the season.
42. 1971: Move to Veterans Stadium
The Eagles played at Veterans Stadium longer than any other stadium in the franchise's history. They moved there from Franklin Field in 1971, spending 32 years in the stadium before Lincoln Financial Field became the team's stadium in 2004.
The Vet, which was shared by both the Eagles and the Phillies, was the home of 14 Eagles playoff teams and one Super Bowl team.
As the stadium aged, its condition worsened. A hole in the wall of the visiting team's locker room allowed them to look into the Eagles' cheerleaders locker room. Mice infested the stadium, which caused the team's security to use cats to catch the mice.
The AstroTurf used at the stadium was very uneven, which resulted in frequent player injuries, the most notable being the career-ending neck injury suffered by Cowboys' wide receiver Michael Irvin in 1999. The AstroTurf was replaced by NexTurf in 2001, but it wasn't installed properly, leading to visible seams in various places (source: The Eagles Encyclopedia).
The most infamous aspect of the Vet was the 700 level, where the fan behavior was about as poor as you can imagine. Author Jere Longman described it as having a reputation for “hostile taunting, fighting, public urination and general strangeness (source: If Football is a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer?).”
(The above video happened at Lincoln Financial Field during a 2009 home game against the San Francisco 49ers, but it perfectly illustrates the behavior of Philly fans.)
41. 1995: Ricky Watters: For Who? For What?
Eagles fans won't remember Ricky Watters for his success in Philly, where the running back rushed for almost 3,800 yards and scored 31 touchdowns in three seasons.
No, instead they'll remember his explanation for short-arming a pass from Randall Cunningham in the 1995 season opener, his first game with his new team. “For who? For what?” said Watters, who added that he's not there to get knocked out.
Watters' statement proved that he knew nothing about Philadelphia fans or, for that matter, teamwork. The brash, outspoken tailback earned two Pro Bowls with the Eagles but never won over the fans the way you'd expect from such a successful tailback.
40. 1990: Buddy Ryan: I've Never Been Fired for Winning
Buddy Ryan's legacy in Philadelphia is that of a defensive mastermind and a winner. And Ryan did succeed in turning the Eagles around from a losing franchise to a playoff team each year from 1988 to 1990. But three straight wild-card losses, two at home, cost Ryan his job.
Had Ryan spent even one-tenth as much time on the offense as the defense, he would have seen that he had an all-time great talent in Randall Cunningham. Instead he was fond of telling Cunningham to “go out there and make four or five plays and let the defense take care of the rest.”
To his credit, though, Ryan helped make Philly fans fall back in love with the Eagles following the disastrous Marion Campbell era of the mid-'80s.
39. 2004: Dawkins Intercepts Favre in Overtime
It's the single biggest play in the career of the most popular player in the Andy Reid era.
Following an improbable 4th-and-26 completion from Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell, the Eagles headed to overtime against a Packers team that had three-time MVP Brett Favre at the helm.
The Eagles lost the toss, which turned out to be perfect. On the first play of overtime, Favre hurled a deep pass, a pass that literally looked like a punt, which was intercepted and returned 35 yards by safety Brian Dawkins (go to 2:40:00 in the video to watch).
Dawkins' return led to a 31-yard field goal by David Akers, which put the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game for the third straight season.
38. 2010: Monday Night Magic in Washington
It might be the most dominant game a quarterback has ever played. That's no exaggeration either.
Against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football in 2010, Michael Vick was so electrifying, so thrilling and so unstoppable that the game was essentially over by the end of the first quarter.
Vick completed 20 of 28 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed eight times for 80 yards and two scores. He threw an 88-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson on the game's opening play and he led the Eagles to 45 points by halftime.
After the game, Vick had officially entered the front of the MVP discussion, while the Eagles had emerged as a legitimate Super Bowl contender (or so we thought).
37. 2004: Terrell Owens Trade
The Eagles were the best team in the NFC during the 2003 season, but extremely poor play from their receivers, who combined to catch just five touchdowns all year, prevented Philly from advancing to the Super Bowl.
That's precisely why the Eagles traded for All-World receiver Terrell Owens during the offseason. Owens, 30, was a top-three receiver in the league with the San Francisco 49ers. His addition to the Eagles was supposed to give the team the missing piece it needed to advance to its first Super Bowl in 24 years.
And it did, although everything fell apart after that, as Eagles fans so vividly remember.
36. 1968: Santa Claus Incident
It might be the single most defining moment in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles fanbase. It might be the single most defining moment in the history of any team's fanbase. It's also the most misunderstood and overrated moment in fan history. It's the day that Eagles fans booed Santa Claus.
The date was December 15, 1968, and the Eagles were 2-11 on the heels of a two-game winning streak. Those late-season victories had essentially ruined the team's chances at winning the right to draft Heisman-winning running back O.J. Simpson. Instead, they picked Leroy Keyes (third overall), who would become one of the worst running backs in league history (Keyes was converted to a defensive back by 1971).
Despite what future Eagles player Vince Papale, who was in the stands, called the coldest game he's ever been to, the Eagles had close to 55,000 fans at the game. At halftime, the cold and miserable fans were expecting a halftime show featuring Santa, but the team's regular Santa was unable to make it to the game because of the storm.
Instead, the Eagles asked 20-year-old Frank Olivo, a loyal fan who always dressed like Santa for the last home game of the year, to fill in. Olivo accepted and what happened next set the stage for more than four decades of hatred towards the Eagles' fanbase.
Olivo recalls being pelted by “a couple of dozen, maybe up to 100 snowballs.” He took it all in good nature, but his 15 minutes of fame turned into a national story when broadcaster Howard Cosell aired the footage on his weekly NFL show that night.
Since then, it's become a symbol of Eagles fans, usually thrown out by those who don't know (or don't care) about learning the whole story.
35. 1950: Eagles Crushed by Browns in Season Opener
From 1946 to 1949, the Cleveland Browns absolutely dominated the AAFC. They won all four championships, posting a 46-4-4 record during the regular season. But nobody, literally nobody outside the Cleveland organization, expected their success to continue when they were moved to the more-competitive National Football League in 1950.
Commissioner Bert Bell, the former owner for the Eagles, intentionally scheduled the Browns to play in Philadelphia for the season opener as a likely rude awakening for the AAFC champs. After all, the Eagles were two-time defending champions and easily the top team in the league.
A crowd of more than 71,000, still the largest in Eagles history, showed up to watch the Eagles throttle the Browns. Yet the complete opposite happened.
Behind the stellar passing attack of Otto Graham and the precise route running of Mac Speedie, Dante Lavelli and Dub Jones, the Browns cruised to an easy 35-10 victory. They ended up winning the league title that season and appeared in every championship game until Graham retired in 1955.
The Browns' victory was ranked as the fourth-biggest upset in NFL history, according to NFL Network (fast-forward to 24:15 to watch the video).
34. 1976: Dick Vermeil Named Head Coach
Before there was Chip Kelly, there was Dick Vermeil, who was also a very successful college coach who was hired to turn around an underachieving Eagles squad.
Vermeil had a difficult task, as the Eagles' previous regime had mortgaged their future by trading away a number of the team's top draft picks in the upcoming years. In fact, general manager Jim Murray said that he didn't know if any coach in any sport ever took on a tougher challenge.
Vermeil responded, and within three years, the Eagles were in the postseason for the first time in 18 years. Two years later, the team reached the Super Bowl, the first in franchise history. By 1982, Vermeil had burned out, exhausted from a work ethic that was unequalled by any head coach in the league.
The lasting legacy of Vermeil is that of an honest, blue-collar guy who worked harder than anybody else in the league. But after seven seasons, it became too much for Vermeil.
In 1995, new Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie attempted to bring Vermeil out of retirement to coach the Eagles, but the two sides couldn't work out a deal. But Vermeil's competitive juices were flowing and he was named the head coach of the St. Louis Rams before the 1997 season. Just three years later, the Rams were Super Bowl champions. Vermeil retired again following the season but returned to coach the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001 to 2005, leading the Chiefs from mediocrity to the league's best record in a three-year span.
33. 1949: Eagles, Van Buren Win Second Championship
The 1949 Eagles were easily the most dominant team in franchise history. With four Hall of Famers on their roster, the Eagles rolled to an 11-1 record, outscoring their opposition by an average of 19 points per game.
The title game marked the third straight for the Eagles that was defined by extreme weather conditions, as both teams were willing to postpone the game. But commission Bert Bell, the former head coach for the Eagles, ruled no (perhaps because Bell had seen how the Eagles fared in the previous year's championship game in the extreme snow).
This time, the weather brought on heavy rain and lots of mud. It didn't matter. The Eagles won 14-0, their second consecutive shutout in a championship game (a feat unequalled by any team before or since).
Steve Van Buren played the role of hero again, rushing 31 times for 196 yards. Head coach Greasy Neale said Van Buren ran better than any player he had ever seen that game.
The Eagles' two touchdowns came on a 31-yard pass from Tommy Thompson to Pete Pihos and a two-yard blocked punt returned for a score by Leo Skladany.
Depending on your definition, the Eagles completed a dynasty, as they won two titles and appeared in a third in a three-year span.
32. 2010: Michael Vick Takes Starting Job from Kevin Kolb
After three years of sitting on the bench and learning the position from Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid, Kevin Kolb was finally going to have his chance to play. The Eagles traded McNabb and announced that Kolb would be the quarterback of the future.
That lasted for exactly two quarters, before an ineffective Kolb was knocked out of the season opener against the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers on a vicious hit by linebacker Clay Matthews. Enter Michael Vick, who thrilled the world by playing at the highest level of his career.
It took just six quarters for Reid to announce that Vick was the team's starting quarterback, and even though Kolb made the most of his three starts when Vick suffered broken ribs, it became clear that his time in Philly had come and gone.
Following the season, the Eagles traded Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for a second-round draft pick and former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And they extended Vick's contract through 2016, essentially making the 31-year-old their quarterback of the future.
31. 1990: Randall Cunningham Eludes Bruce Smith
What Randall Cunningham did against the eventual AFC champion Buffalo Bills in 1990 was probably the single most athletic play of his NFL career. And that's saying something because Cunningham was essentially a human highlight reel.
The Eagles were backed up at their own goal line, trailing 24-9 and facing a 3rd-and-14. Cunningham took the snap and dropped back into his end zone. He ended up dancing around, literally ducking under future all-time sack leader Bruce Smith and unleashing a deep throw to Fred Barnett.
Barnett leaped, caught the ball over cornerback James Williams and headed untouched into the end zone to complete a miraculous 95-yard scoring play.
Although the Eagles lost 30-23, all the talk was about Cunningham's amazing play. Said Cunningham, “Sometimes I even amaze myself.”
30. 1988: Fog Bowl
You have to wonder why the NFL even allowed the Fog Bowl to happen. There's no reason a game, let alone a wild-card playoff game, should be played in such drastic weather conditions.
The fog during the game was so intense that players from both teams complained that they couldn't see the first-down markers or the sidelines. Receivers couldn't see deep passes. Quarterbacks couldn't see their receivers. And fans watching at the stadium and at home couldn't see anything.
In fact, commentator Terry Bradshaw called the game more frustrating than anything he experienced as a player.
The game was a microcosm of Buddy Ryan's offense. While the Bears used common sense and ran 33 times to just 23 passes, the Eagles did not. Fifty-seven passing plays were called, compared to 16 rushing plays.
Cunningham completed 27 of 54 passes for 407 yards, but his three interceptions, compared to zero touchdowns, proved costly. The Bears won, 20-12, in a game that arguably never should have been played in the first place.
29. 2005: Brian Dawkins Hits Alge Crumpler in NFC Championship
The Philadelphia Eagles finally erased their NFC Championship Game demons by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 to advance to Super Bowl XXXIX.
The highlight of the game was a vicious blow delivered by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins late in the second quarter, as he crushed Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler after a 31-yard gain. The Falcons did score a touchdown on the next play to cut their deficit to 14-10, but Dawkins' hit helped set the tone for the remainder of the game.
My lasting memory of Dawkins is his hit on Crumpler and his speech after the '04 NFC championship victory: "I'll tell you what! We wanted to set a tone as a defense! It's not just me, it's my line, it's Burgess, Kearse, Trot, all them boys! We came and we brought it! Every doggone night!"
28. 2004: Third Time the Charm for Ricky Manning Jr.
By this point, it was becoming a pattern. The Eagles would advance to the league's conference final and then disappoint their fans.
Unlike the previous season, this contest didn't even come down to the wire. A Panthers team that had posted a point differential of just plus-21 during the season came into Veterans Stadium and literally smacked the Eagles around for 60 minutes.
DeShaun Foster broke about five tackles on a one-yard touchdown run and Ricky Manning Jr intercepted three passes during the game.
McNabb suffered separated rib cartilage on a second-quarter sack and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. Koy Detmer's late interception clinched a Carolina victory.
27. 1999: Donovan McNabb Booed at Draft
Who knows if the Donovan McNabb era could have been changed had a select portion of the fanbase chosen not to boo the team's first-round selection at the 1999 draft?
Even casual fans know what happened. The Dirty Thirty, a group of fans led by radio host Angelo Cataldi, traveled to New York, intent on booing any draft pick that wasn't Heisman-winning running back Ricky Williams.
That pick turned out to be Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb, who earned six Pro Bowl selections and led the Eagles to five NFC championship appearances and a Super Bowl berth during his 11 seasons in Philly. (Williams played 11 seasons and rushed for over 10,000 yards, but received more suspensions for marijuana use (2) than Pro Bowl selections (1)).
Despite his success in Philly, McNabb never warmed up to Eagles fans. It can all be traced back to the draft day incident, as McNabb failed to realize that fans weren't booing him; they were booing the management.
26. 1989: Bounty Bowls
Was it possible for a coach to hate another team as much as Buddy Ryan hated the Dallas Cowboys? The pinnacle of Ryan's hatred came in a pair of 1989 classics known as the Bounty Bowls.
In the first game, which occurred on Thanksgiving, the Eagles shut out the Cowboys, 27-0. Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, who had been cut by the Eagles earlier in the season, was knocked out of the game by Philly linebacker Jessie Small. Allegations that the Eagles had put a $200 bounty on Zendejas were never proven (but were likely true).
The highly anticipated rematch took place in Philly two weeks later. Combine snow, beer and an intense hatred for Dallas and you have the recipe for chaos. That's basically what happened, as Philly fans spent the game pelting Cowboys players and coaches, refs, broadcast members and even Eagles players.
Even Ed Rendell, who would become governor of Pennsylvania, became involved in the melee, as he bet a fan $20 that the fan could not reach the field with a snowball (Rendell lost).
The Eagles responded by increasing security and banning beer sales for the season's final two games.
25. 1988: Randall Cunningham Broken-Tackle Touchdown
You could watch football for decades at a time and never see a more athletic play by a quarterback. CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank ranked it as the single greatest play in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles (source: The 50 Greatest Plays in Philadelphia Eaglesz history).
In 1988, quarterback Randall Cunningham rolled to his right on a roll-out against the New York Giants. Linebacker Carl Banks dove at Cunningham's knees and sent the Pro Bowl quarterback to his knees. But Cunningham caught himself with his left hand, straightened up and immediately fired a strike to tight end Jimmie Giles for a touchdown (go to 0:34 to watch the play).
The play, which occurred during the team's first Monday Night Football game in seven years, was one of the most daring, impossible plays in the career of a quarterback who made his living doing the impossible.
24. 1995: 4th-and-1
The Eagles have had some pretty incredible defensive plays against the Cowboys in their history. This is one of the very best.
A critical December matchup between the 10-3 Cowboys and 8-5 Eagles was a must-win for an Eagles team fighting for a playoff spot. The Eagles trailed early 17-3, but scored two late touchdowns to tie the game.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Cowboys faced a 4th-and-1 on their own 29-yard line. That's an obvious punting decision for any team, even one with the eventual league MVP (Emmitt Smith) at running back.
The Cowboys rarely played by the rules. They went for it on fourth down and the Eagles stuffed Smith at the line of scrimmage. But incredibly, the referees ruled that the two-minute warning had occurred before the play and Dallas was given another chance.
In a classic Barry Switzer coaching decision, the Cowboys chose to go for it again. The Eagles stuffed Emmitt again.
Four plays later, veteran kicker Gary Anderson nailed a 42-yard field goal to win the game. The victory was probably the best regular-season game during the Ray Rhodes era.
23. 2009: Michael Vick Signed
The idea of the Eagles signing Michael Vick after the 29-year-old was released from prison sounded absolutely ludicrous. After all, the Eagles had one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Donovan McNabb, who was aging but still effective. And they had former second-round pick Kevin Kolb on the bench.
Yet it was the Eagles who gave the former three-time Pro Bowler a contract, a two-year deal. Expectations were low that Vick would actually do anything productive on the field, and he played sparingly during the season, participating in just 38 runs/passes, mostly out of the Wildcat formation.
We all remember what happened next, as the Eagles traded McNabb within the division following an embarrassing postseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Kolb was promoted to starter but lasted just two ineffective quarters before suffering a concussion. Vick took over, ran wild and led the Eagles to an unlikely division title.
22. 2011: Free-Agent Signings
Heading into the 2011 season, the Eagles were just one or two great players away from competing for a Super Bowl title. That's when they pulled off what they thought would be the offseason signing spree of the century.
The Eagles grabbed a pair of Pro Bowl-caliber veterans for their defensive line: Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. They added key backups at quarterback, running back and wide receiver: Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith. They signed a journeyman offensive lineman who became a stud at left guard: Evan Mathis. Oh, and they inherited Nnamdi Asomugha, widely considered the second-best cornerback in the league, behind Darrelle Revis.
But what the Eagles failed to realize is that there was a reason why these players were free agents in the first place. Young, Brown and Smith failed to provide even adequate depth at their respective positions. Babin and Jenkins played well for a year but declined beginning in the 2012 season. And Asomugha, although used in the incorrect defensive formation, was completely ineffective and will be widely regarded as one of the biggest free-agent busts in Philadelphia sports history.
We all remember what happened on the field, too. The Eagles started the season with a 1-4 record and quickly became the laughingstock of the league.
The signing spree, so unlike the old Andy Reid, who preferred to build his team through the draft, may be the single biggest reason for the eventual firing of head coach Andy Reid.
21. 2009: Final NFC Championship Game Loss
The 2008 Eagles were seemingly a team of destiny. Following the infamous “I didn't know games could end in a tie” and benching of Donovan McNabb in November, the Eagles were left for dead.
But four straight victories and an improbable 44-6 beatdown of the division rival Dallas Cowboys put the Eagles in the playoffs as the final wild-card seed, and they easily handled the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants to advance to their fifth NFC championship in eight seasons.
Even though they were facing the high-powered passing attack of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, the Eagles were expected to win. But like 2002 and 2003, things didn't work out the way they should have.
Arizona took a 24-6 lead behind three touchdown receptions from Fitzgerald, and although McNabb led an improbable comeback to give the Eagles a 25-24 lead, it wasn't enough, as Warner marched the Cardinals for the game-winning touchdown in the final few minutes.
Had the Eagles won, they would have faced a Steelers team in the Super Bowl that they had demolished 15-6 in the regular season behind nine sacks from the defense.
20. 2003: Miracle at the Meadowlands II
Time was running out for the Eagles in the 2003 season. The team was 2-3 and on the verge of dropping to 2-4. They trailed the New York Giants 10-7 with just 1:30 remaining in the game.
They were getting the ball back on offense, but that meant very little considering Donovan McNabb's performance that week. He completed 9 of 23 passes for 64 yards and an interception, easily one of his worst performances ever.
Enter Brian Westbrook. The Eagles' rookie running back scooped up the punt on one bounce, broke a tackle, cut to the left and darted 84 yards for a dramatic game-winning touchdown.
We all remember Merrill Reese's call. "He gets it away. It's a wobbler. Bounces across the 20. Westbrook takes it, looks for running room. Up to the 25, the 30, to the 35, 40, 45, midfield. 45, ,40, 35, 30. Brian Westbrook! He's going! He's gone! Touchdown! Brian Westbrook 84 yards! I don't believe it! Brian Westbrook has just exploded. This place is in a state of shock."
Westbrook's play saved the season for the Eagles. The 14-10 victory put the team at 3-3 and vaulted them into a nine-game winning streak. The Eagles eventually reached their third straight NFC Championship Game.
19. 1992: Jerome Brown Dies in Car Accident
In one of the most tragic events in Eagles history, defensive tackle Jerome Brown died in a car accident during the summer before the 1992 season.
Brown, 27, had been driving with his 12-year-old nephew, who was also killed when the car hit a telephone pole during the wreck.
A top-10 pick in the 1987 draft, Brown had earned two Pro Bowl selections during his five years in the National Football League. He had a well-deserved reputation as one of the most carefree, playful guys on the team.
The Eagles dedicated the 1992 season to Brown, using the slogan “Bring it Home for Jerome” throughout a season that saw them win 11 games and a big road playoff game in the wild-card round.
18. 2009: Jim Johnson Dies
The Eagles had one of the most respected defenses in the 2000s, thanks to superstars such as Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter and Hugh Douglas. But the most important member of the defense wasn't a player. It was coordinator Jim Johnson.
The Eagles had one of the top 10 scoring defenses in the league seven times in a nine-year span, including the top scoring defense in 2002.
But everything went downhill after Johnson's death in the summer of 2009 following a bout with cancer. It's been four years and the Eagles have used three different coordinators (the 2013 season will be their fourth), but none has come close to replacing the legendary Johnson.
17. 2009: Brian Dawkins Leaves for Denver
This was truly one of the most heartbreaking moments in franchise history. As a fan, I'll never get over this as long as I live.
On February 28, 2009, free agent Brian Dawkins officially left the Eagles, signing a five-year, $17 million contract with the Denver Broncos. It was shocking, unexpected and horrible. I think the entire fanbase had images of Dawkins playing another two or three seasons in Philly and then retiring. When Dawkins left, a small part of me died. I think this happened in all of us.
The Brian Dawkins era spanned 13 seasons in Philadelphia, beginning with his second-round draft selection in 1996. He earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl and five All-Pro selections.
His biggest play came in the 2003 divisional playoff win against the Green Bay Packers, when he intercepted Brett Favre in overtime and returned it 35 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. His hit on Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler in the 2004 NFC Championship Game is arguably the signature moment of his future Hall of Fame career.
One of nine members in NFL history to record 20 interceptions and collect 20 sacks, Dawkins was the heart and soul of one of the game's best defenses for more than a decade.
16. Mid-1990s: Reggie White, Others Leave in Free Agency
The lasting legacy of owner Norman Braman is that of a very wealthy but cheap man who ran the Eagles like a business. That legacy is completely accurate.
It was Braman's inability to sign any of the team's star free agents during the mid-'90s that prevented the Eagles from challenging the Cowboys or 49ers for the top spots in the NFC.
It began with defensive end Reggie White, arguably the best defensive player in the National Football League, who signed with the Green Bay Packers following the '92 season. White cited a lack of commitment to winning by the Eagles' ownership as his main reason for leaving, and who can blame him? Braman never even made an offer to the player who had collected a ridiculous 124 sacks during his eight years in Philly.
In the subsequent years, tight end Keith Jackson, defensive end Clyde Simmons, linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Eric Allen were among the team's stars to leave via free agency.
When all was said and done, the Eagles struggled to an 8-8 finish in 1993 and lost their final seven games in 1994 to collect their first losing season in seven years. Maybe those free agents would have helped.
15. 1991: Randall Cunningham Torn ACL
It's probably the most disappointing injury in the history of Philadelphia sports.
When reigning NFL MVP Randall Cunningham tore his ACL on a hit by Green Bay linebacker Bryce Paup in the season opener, it ended both his season and the Eagles' season.
What the Eagles' offense went through over the next 15 games is something no fanbase should have to endure. At quarterback, the inept combination of Jim McMahon, Jeff Kemp, Pat Ryan and Brad Goebel combined to throw 17 touchdowns against 27 interceptions.
The Eagles still won 10 games, on the heels of a defense that became the first in NFL history to finish a season ranked No. 1 against the pass, the run and overall. Had Cunningham been healthy all season, the Eagles would likely have given the Redskins (14-2, plus-228 point differential) a run for the Super Bowl title.
14. 1990: Body Bag Game
The Body Bag game was the most dominating defensive performance in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. It's a game so dominant that it was ranked as one of the 10 most memorable games in franchise history.
Against the Washington Redskins, the Eagles knocked seven players out of the game, including two quarterbacks. Rookie running back/kick returner Brian Mitchell, a college quarterback, had to finish the game behind center.
The Eagles won easily, 28-14, scoring a pair of touchdowns on defense: a 30-yard interception return by defensive back William Frizzell and an 18-yard fumble return by defensive end Clyde Simmons.
The game got so bad that one Eagles player yelled to the Redskins' sideline: “Do you guys need any more body bags?”
The complete list of players knocked out from the game includes quarterbacks Stan Rutledge and Jeff Humphries, running back Gerald Riggs, wide receivers Joe Howard and Walter Stanley, offensive tackle Ed Simmons and linebacker Greg Manusky.
13. 2010: Miracle at the New Meadowlands
This was the greatest ending to a game in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. It will likely never be equaled again.
After trailing 31-10 midway through the fourth quarter in a December battle against the New York Giants, Michael Vick rallied the Eagles. First, he hit Brent Celek for a 65-yard touchdown. A successful onside kick led to a Vick rushing touchdown. Finally, the defense stopped the Giants, allowing Vick to hit Jeremy Maclin for a 13-yard game-tying touchdown with 1:16 to play.
A final defensive stop set up the most dramatic regular-season touchdown in Eagles history. Here's your call from Merrill Reese: "Matt Dodge to punt. Gets a high snap. Gets it away. It's a knuckler. Jackson takes it at the 35, fumbles it, picks it up, looks for running room. He's at the 40. He's at the 45. Midfield! Oh! He's at the 40! Oh! He's gonna go! DeSean Jackson! Oh! I don't care if he jumps, dives! He's running around and he is in the end zone! And there's no time! And the Eagles win! And the Eagles win!"
The improbable touchdown was the first walk-off punt return touchdown in NFL history. It gave the Eagles the first comeback ever in which a team trailed by 21 points in the final eight minutes and won in regulation. It virtually clinched a division title for the Eagles, as the Giants ended up missing the postseason. And it was voted as the greatest play in the history of the National Football League this offseason.
(Here is my celebration.)
12. 2008: 44-6
Sunday of Miracles. That's the only proper name for what happened on December 28, 2008.
To reach the playoffs, the Eagles (8-6-1) needed the Houston Texans to beat the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oh, and they also needed to beat the Dallas Cowboys (9-6). Incredibly, the Texans knocked off the Bears 31-24 and the Raiders overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to stun the Buccaneers.
What happened between the Eagles and the Cowboys was like something out of a dream. The Eagles destroyed the Cowboys 44-6, scoring 31 points in an 18-minute period between the second and third quarters. Brian Dawkins led the way, forcing a pair of fumbles. Chris Clemons returned one for a 73-yard touchdown, while Joselio Hanson took the other one back 96 yards.
The victory gave the Eagles the momentum to reach their fifth conference championship game in eight seasons. For the Cowboys, it was their ninth straight loss in a season finale. It also helped solidify Tony Romo's reputation as a choker, something he may never live down for the remainder of his career (he’s currently 1-3 in playoff games and 0-3 in winner-take-all season finales).
11. 1981: Super Bowl Loss to Oakland
The 1980 Eagles appeared to be emotionally burned out as they headed into the Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders. Fresh off a dramatic conference championship game victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the season had already been declared a success for the Eagles, regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl.
That's why it's not surprising what happened in Super Bowl XV, as the Raiders easily defeated the Eagles, 27-10, becoming the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl title. Jim Plunkett earned MVP honors by completing 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, including a then-record 80-yard strike to running back Kenny King.
Tight end Keith Krepfle made history in the fourth quarter when he became the first player in team history to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. That might have been the only bright spot of the game for the Eagles.
10. 2004: 4th-and-26
Consider it one of the most unlikely plays in franchise history. It still stands as the longest fourth-down conversion in NFL postseason history.
Trailing 17-14 with just a minute remaining, the Eagles used a 4th-and-26 completion from Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell to keep their slim hopes alive. A few plays later, David Akers kicked a 37-yard field goal to send the two teams into sudden-death overtime.
The irony of the play, of course, is that it stands as the single highlight in the career of Mitchell, a first-round pick in 2001 who essentially talked his way out of Philly following the team's loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
The game stands as the best postseason performance of McNabb's career. The Eagles' quarterback led the team back from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit, completing 21 of 39 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 11 times for 107 yards.
9. 2003: Ronde Barber Interception Touchdown
To this day, many Eagles fans call Ronde Barber's interception-return touchdown to send the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl the single most painful sports moment of their lifetime.
Here's what happened. The Eagles and Bucs were the two best teams in the regular season in 2002, so naturally they faced each other at Veterans Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The Buccaneers were 1-21 in temperatures under 40 degrees, and they were 0-6 in road playoff games, including losses to the Eagles in each of the previous two seasons.
The Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first minute, but the Buccaneers dominated for the next three-and-a-half quarters. In the final minutes, the Eagles trailed 20-10 and were threatening to score a late touchdown that would keep their hopes alive.
But cornerback Ronde Barber stepped in front of McNabb's errant pass (Todd Pinkston also fell down) and returned it 92 yards for the clinching score. Fans at the game say they've never heard Veterans Stadium so quiet.
It would be the first of two heartbreaking NFC Championship Game losses at home. The play still stands as the most significant in the history of Tampa Bay sports. (If you're actually interested in reliving the pain, fast-forward to 8:10.)
8. 2005: Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens Feud
Who's to blame for the feud between Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens? Probably both, but most of the blame should go squarely to Owens.
It was Owens who started causing trouble during the Steelers' blowout victory over the Eagles after a 7-0 start to the 2004 season. The drama continued, as Owens felt he had outperformed his contract, and the Eagles (correctly) expected him to honor the seven-year deal he signed before the year.
He also made comments about McNabb getting tired in the Super Bowl and (incorrectly) claimed that the Eagles would be undefeated with Brett Favre at quarterback (Favre threw a career-high 29 interceptions that year).
Then throw in a jealous McNabb, who never received the love from Philadelphia fans that Owens saw on a regular basis and also couldn't stand the fact that NFL experts felt that Owens was the missing piece to the Eagles team, and you can understand why everything went south in the city of Brotherly Love.
The Eagles reacted (too late) by suspending Owens for the season's final 10 games in 2005 and released him after the season. But McNabb lost more from the saga than Owens did.
McNabb's reputation as a leader had been seriously questioned, as many felt he should have made more of an effort to get along with a player he specifically recruited for his team.
7. 1948: Steve Van Buren Wins First NFL Championship in Blizzard
The first championship by a major sports team in Philadelphia sports history never would have happened if head coach Greasy Neale hadn't gotten his star player, Steve Van Buren, out of bed with a phone call.
Van Buren had woken up, seen the massive snowfall and gone back to bed. When Neale called him and told him to be there, he had to take a bus, trolley and subway and walk several blocks to the stadium. He made it an hour before the game.
The blizzard was so bad that offenses couldn't see the other team's secondary. Referees estimated yardage because they couldn't see the first-down markers.
On the game's first play, the Eagles scored when Tommy Thompson completed a 65-yard touchdown to Jack Ferrante, but the play was overturned when Ferrante was ruled to be offside (the Eagles argue that the ref was just guessing).
For the game, Thompson completed just two of 12 passes for seven yards and a pair of interceptions. But 225 rushing yards saved the Eagles. In the end, Van Buren scored the game's lone touchdown in the fourth quarter, a five-yard gallop over right tackle. For the game, he collected 98 yards on 26 carries, as the Eagles won the franchise's first NFL championship.
6. 1978: Miracle at the Meadowlands
This was the game that dramatically changed the fortunes of both the Eagles and the Giants for the next several seasons.
At 6-5, the Eagles needed a win to stay in the playoff hunt. But the Giants (5-6) took a 14-0 lead and led 17-12, facing a 3rd-and-2 with 31 seconds to play in the game.
Rather than kneel the ball and face the pushing and shoving of a physical Eagles defense, offensive coordinator Bob Gibson called a simple handoff, a running play from quarterback Joe Pisarcik to veteran Larry Csonka.
That's where the miracle happened. Pisarcik bobbled the snap, the ball cutting his finger and glancing off his hip as it fell. Because defensive coordinator Marion Campbell had called an all-out 11-man blitz, cornerback Herman Edwards was able to scoop up the ball and sprint 26 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
Following the play, Gibson was fired by the Giants. He hasn't coached football since and refuses to discuss the play. Pisarcik needed a police escort to get to his car.
The play led to the Eagles' first postseason berth in 18 seasons. Two years later, they played in the Super Bowl. The Giants, on the other hand, finished in last place in the division and would not rebound from the loss until they drafted Lawrence Taylor three years later.
5. 1981: Wilbert Montgomery Runs to Super Bowl Against Dallas
The greatest touchdown in Philadelphia Eagles history came by a player who wasn't even healthy enough to start the game.
Heading into the 1980 NFC Championship Game against the rival Dallas Cowboys, running back Wilbert Montgomery was nursing a sore knee, suffered a few days earlier when he collapsed during practice. He wasn't on the field or even the sidelines when the game started. But Montgomery came running out of the tunnel before the game's second play, and head coach Dick Vermeil promptly inserted him into the game.
On second down, Montgomery took the carry and burst through an enormous hole on the right side of the line. He sprinted untouched into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
Montgomery rushed 26 times for 194 yards before sore legs forced him out of the game in the second half.
The Eagles won soundly, 20-7, advancing to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Linebacker Bill Bergey said he had never seen Vermeil prepare the team so well for a single game.
4. 2005: Super Bowl Clock Management Problems
There are a million storylines from the Eagles' second-ever trip to the Super Bowl, a 24-21 loss at the hands of the dynastic New England Patriots.
The most underrated and forgotten is Terrell Owens' heroic performance, in which he caught nine passes for 122 yards on a surgically repaired right ankle.
But the only storyline anyone wanted to talk about was what happened on the final drive in the fourth quarter, a drive that has now become symbolic of the Andy Reid era for his struggles in time management.
The Eagles trailed the Patriots 24-14 with the ball on their own 21-yard line and just 5:48 left in the game. The following drive was painfully slow, as the Eagles moved lethargically, like they were the ones with the double-digit lead, not the Patriots. In fact, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick even asked one of his assistant coaches if he had the score right. Told that he did, he responded, “Then what the hell are they trying to do?”
The first four plays of the drive, all passes, gained 15 yards and took two full minutes off the clock. When the drive finally ended, in a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to Greg Lewis, just 1:48 remained in the game.
The Eagles got the ball back on their own four-yard line with 46 seconds to play but all hope had been lost. Two plays later, a pass from Donovan McNabb bounced off LJ Smith's hands and into the arms of Rodney Harrison for a game-clinching interception.
(Go to 2:10:00 to watch the final drive.)
3. Chuck Bednarik Hits Frank Gifford
Chuck Bednarik's hit on New York Giants running back Frank Gifford was called the “greatest tackle in pro football history” by NFL Films president Steve Sabol.
With the Eagles (6-1) leading the Giants (5-1-1) by a 17-10 score with fewer than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Gifford caught a pass near midfield and attempted to cut out of bounds to stop the clock.
"Gifford comes across the field. Across, down and in," remembered Bednarik. "That's dangerous. That's like a Volkswagon going down a one-way street and a Mack truck is coming the other way."
The Mack truck hit the Volkswagon, knocking Gifford unconscious and jarring the ball loose, which was recovered by the Eagles to clinch the victory.
The image of Bednarik standing over Gifford's lifeless body, pumping his first, is one of the most memorable images in franchise history. According to legend, Bednarik was yelling, "This (bleeping) game is over!"
Giants kicker Pat Summerall, who would later become a famous announcer, remembered the hit. "They carried Frank off the field in a stretcher and unbeknownst to us, some fan that day had a heart attack in the stands. The man had unfortunately died in our locker room. They were taking him out with a sheet over his face just as we started to walk in and we all thought that Bednarik had killed Gifford."
The result of the hit gave Gifford a massive concussion. He missed the remainder of the 1960 season and all of 1961. Gifford returned to football in 1962, playing three more seasons before retiring and earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he was never even close to the same player after Bednarik’s hit.
Bednarik's hit stands as the signature regular-season moment of the last Eagles team to win a championship.
2. Finally an NFC title victory
Finally. They say that relief is the best emotion. The Eagles experienced a lot of that on January 23, 2005, as Donovan McNabb and Co. finally advanced to their first Super Bowl in 24 seasons.
The Eagles were so much better than the rest of the NFC in 2004 that it's not even comparable. The second-best team was probably the Green Bay Packers, and the Eagles beat them 47-17 in 2004, taking a 35-0 lead by halftime.
In the postseason, the Eagles easily handled the Minnesota Vikings, even though they played without Terrell Owens, who was still recovering from a broken ankle. They were huge favorites against Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons, who advanced to the conference title game despite outscoring their opponents by just three points during the regular season.
Going into the game, the fans were both confident and paranoid. They knew their team was significantly better than the Falcons, but they had also lost in the title game three straight times, including the last two at home.
They had nothing to worry about. The Eagles controlled the game from the start, winning easily 27-10. McNabb threw two touchdown passes to Chad Lewis, and Brian Dawkins intercepted Vick and delivered a vicious hit on Alge Crumpler in the second quarter.
After the game, Dawkins gave the Philadelphia crowd chills with a memorable postgame speech.
The magical season for the Philadelphia Eagles would continue for two more weeks.
1. Chuck Bednarik Tackle Wins 3rd and Final NFL Title
The 1960 Eagles completed the most dramatic regular season in franchise history, winning 10 of their 12 games, including six by fourth-quarter comebacks.
Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin threw for 24 touchdowns and earned the league's MVP award. Center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik turned in his finest season as a pro, as the last of the 60-minute men. Both Van Brocklin and Bednarik planned to retire following the season.
In the NFL Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles took a 17-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter on Ted Dean's five-yard touchdown run. But Bart Starr led a late drive, moving the Packers well within Eagles territory in the final minutes.
On the game's final play, Starr completed a pass to running back Jim Taylor, who broke a couple of tackles until he was leveled by Bednarik on the 8-yard line. According to legend, Bednarik held Taylor down on the ground until the final seconds ticked off the clock and then told him he could get up since his team just lost (fast-forward to 48:25 to watch the video).
The 1960 team produced the most memorable, wild rollercoaster ride in franchise history, culminating in the arrival of the team's third and final championship.
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