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The Philadelphia Eagles' Top 10 Defining Plays of the Andy Reid Era

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The Philadelphia Eagles' Top 10 Defining Plays of the Andy Reid Era
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Every fan remembers a select few plays from his team during his lifetime.

 

Here are 10 plays that have defined the Philadelphia Eagles under the Andy Reid era. I tried not to put all good plays—there are two plays on here I would love to forget.

 

Onside kick vs. Dallas, 2000: This wasn't just an onside kick. It wasn't just the first play of the 2000 season for the Eagles.

 

It ushered in a new era for the Philadelphia Eagles of supremacy in the division, putting an end to the 3-13 and 5-11 days of Bobby Hoying and Doug Pederson.

 

This kick symbolized the turning over of a new leaf.

 

The Eagles rolled over the Cowboys, 41-14, in 100-plus degree heat, en route to 11 wins and a playoff berth behind first-year starting quarterback Donovan McNabb's Pro Bowl season.

 

From there on out, the Eagles have established themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL, qualifying for the playoffs seven of the last nine seasons, including five trips to the conference championship game.

 

The Cowboys?

 

They haven't won a playoff game in 12 seasons.

 

Since 1996.

 

Wow.

 


Damon Moore's game-saving tackle, 2001:
I bet a whole lot of people don't remember this play.

 

It was the second-to-last game of the 2001 season and the Eagles held a slim 24-21 lead over the defending NFC Champion Giants, following David Akers' go-ahead and eventual game-winning field goal.

 

We had still never experienced a division champion here in Philly...

 

At least I hadn't. I was just several months old the last time this team had won the NFC East, back in 1989.

 

There was time for just one last play and the Giants were seventy yards away from a touchdown, down by three.

 

Kerry Collins hit Tiki Barber across the middle for a short gain. Barber pitched the ball back to Ron Dixon—a known Eagles killer—and Dixon sprinted down the left sideline.

 

Dixon got all the way to the four yard line, where Eagles' safety Damon Moore managed to shove Dixon out of bounds, clinching the Eagles' first division title in 12 seasons.

 

The Eagles rolled over the Bucs and the Bears in the playoffs, before losing a hard-fought battle to the St. Louis Rams, just one game short of an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI.

 


Joe Jurevicious' 71-yard pass, 2002 Playoffs:
This was only the second most painful moment of the day. Ronde Barber's 92-yard interception return touchdown with just over three minutes to play was far more painful.

 

But Jurevicious' catch was far more influential in the outcome of the game.

 

The Eagles were up, 10-7, midway through the second quarter, and the Bucs faced  second and five on their own 24-yard line.

 

Eagles' strong safety Blaine Bishop had been battling a hamstring injury all day, but rather than play it smart and inform the coaches to put in up-and-coming rookie Michael Lewis, Bishop kept his mouth shut.

 

And cost us the season.

 

Jurevicious took the pass 71 yards, beating every Eagle on the field, notably Bishop and our 400-plus pound middle linebacker, Levon Kirkland, who ran a 12 second 40 yard dash.

 

The Bucs scored a touchdown soon after, went up 14-10, and we never saw the lead again.

 


Brian Westbrook's 84-yard punt return touchdown, 2003:
Remember when Brian Westbrook used to return punts?

 

I don't think I will ever forget what happened here.

 

The 2-3 Eagles were trailing the rival Giants, 10-7, with about a minute and a half to play, when the Giants lined up to punt.

 

McNabb had been having one of his worst days as a pro—just nine completions for 64 yards all game—and we all knew we needed Westbrook to break one if we wanted to win this game.

 

And he did.

 

I still get goosebumps when I remember Reese's “BRIAN WESTBROOK!”

 

Sometimes I still put in my 2003 Eagles DVD just to watch No. 36 sprinting down the left sideline for a glorious game-winning touchdown.

 

From there, the Eagles embarked on a nine-game winning streak to capture the NFC East and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

 

This return is still known in Philly as The Play That Saved Our Season.

 


Brian Dawkins' interception, 2003 Playoffs:
I love Brett Favre. You can always count on him for a clutch interception when it counts.

 

With the Eagles and Packers locked in a 17-17 tie in overtime of the 2003 Divisional Playoffs, Favre threw one up for Javon Walker. Way up.

 

The pass was overthrown by about twenty yards. Dawkins settled under it like a punt, caught it, and raced 35 yards to put the Eagles in excellent field position, leading to David Akers' eventual game-winning field goal.

 

*Why not fourth and 26? If you can pick one play from that game, why would I pick Dawkins' pick over fourth and 26?

 

Everyone knows fourth and 26. It was unbelievable, miraculous...and maybe a tad overrated.

 

First of all, fourth and 26 never should have happened. The NFC's top team never should have let the Packers stay in the game that late.

 

The pass itself was thrown to a very forgettable wide receiver (Freddie Mitchell)—or at least one that we'd like to forget—and the pass actually wasn't a very good pass. It was behind Mitchell, who made a pretty nice catch in double coverage.

 

And even after that catch, the Eagles still weren't even winning.

 

A David Akers field goal sent us into overtime and from there, it was Brett Favre to Brian Dawkins for the game.

 

Again, I love fourth and 26, but I have to take Dawkins' pick.

 


Donovan McNabb 14.1 second scramble, 2004:
No one play in particular defined the Eagles' 2004 season, in which they coasted to a 13-1 record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

 

But this one by McNabb comes pretty close.

 

It was Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. It doesn't get any bigger than that.

 

The Eagles had already piled up 28 points with three minutes remaining in the second quarter and had the ball at their own 25-yard line.

 

McNabb took the snap, dropped back, escaped a defender, rolled to his right, scrambled all the way back across to his left, and fired one off his back foot to a streaking Freddie Mitchell, who hauled in the ball 60 yards down the field for a huge completion.

 

The scramble—which was replayed several times in a row—took 14.1 seconds.

 

14.1.

 

And it couldn't have come against a better team.

 


Greg Lewis' 30-yard touchdown catch, 2004 Super Bowl:
Remember this drive?

 

This was the drive that earned Donovan McNabb his current status as one of the most overcriticized quarterbacks in the game.

 

I don't want to get too much into details.

 

There was some stalling, a little bit of vomiting, but when the dust settled, how did that drive end?

 

A beautifully thrown 30-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis.

 

Isn't that how drives are supposed to end? Touchdowns? I take comfort in knowing that the most criticized drive in the history of possibly the game ended in a touchdown.

 


Lito Sheppard's 102 yard interception return TD, 2006:
I cried tears of happiness after this game. This might be the greatest regular season play of my lifetime.

 

Every Eagles-Cowboys game is huge, but this one was especially important. It was T.O.'s big return to Philly, after his messy divorce from the team a year earlier.

 

With the Eagles at 3-1 and the Cowboys at 2-1, this game was HUGE for playoff impact.

 

With just 33 seconds to play, the Cowboys found themselves in a second-and-goal situation just six yards from a touchdown that would tie the game and most likely force overtime.

 

Thank God for Drew Bledsoe.

 

The Cowboys' aging and unproductive quarterback found Eagles' corner Lito Sheppard in the end zone. Sheppard caught the ball in stride and raced 102 yards in the other direction for a game-winning 102-yard interception touchdown, to screams of delight from the ecstatic Philly crowd.

 

Afterwards, T.O.—who caught just three passes for 45 yards and no touchdowns all game—was caught on camera screaming at his teammates.

 

It was one of the happiest days of my life.

 


Lito Sheppard's game-saving interception, 2006:
Say what you want about Lito Sheppard, who left Philly on bad terms this past offseason, but he sure had a knack for making clutch plays.

 

In this particular game, the 5-6 Eagles were being quarterbacked by Jeff Garcia, following McNabb's season-ending injury two weeks earlier.

 

Stuck in a losing streak (five out of the last six games), the Eagles desperately needed to win to stay in the hunt in the weak NFC.

 

The Birds took a 27-24 lead over the Carolina Panthers, a team that had traveled to the NFC Championship Game the previous year, before handing the game to the defense.

 

Jake Delhomme efficiently marched the Panthers nearly 70 yards in just under three minutes to the Eagles' seven-yard line.

 

Delhomme's fade pass to Keyshawn Johnson in the corner of the end zone was picked off by Lito Sheppard, who had timed the pass perfectly, before making a leaping, tumbling grab.

 

What was especially sweet about the play was Keyshawn had beat Lito right before halftime on the same fade pattern. Lito noticed a hitch in Keyshawn's body, adjusted to it, and made the play.

 

The pick secured the Eagles' win, putting them in a tie for the NFC wild card.

 

The play vaulted the Eagles on a five-game winning streak, as the Birds captured the division after being left for dead following McNabb's injury in November.

 


Scott Young's false start, 2006 Playoffs:
This was not one of the better plays of my time as an Eagles fan. In fact, I can't recall ever being more outraged in my life.

 

The Eagles, on a six-game winning streak, were battling the Saints in the Divisional Playoffs. The Saints were up 27-24 with a little over three minutes left, driving into field goal range.

 

It appeared to be over.

 

And then there was a gift from God.

 

A lateral to Reggie Bush—not a handoff—that was fumbled and recovered by our very own Darren Howard near midfield.

 

With just over a minute to play, we found ourselves watching a fourth and 10, down 27 to 24. Miss and it's over.

 

By some miracle, Garcia completed a pass to Hank Baskett for the first down, moving the chains, and keeping the dream season alive.

 

And then the refs blew the whistle.

 

After the play was over.

 

The call was a false start penalty on backup guard Scott Young—filling in for the injured All-Pro Shawn Andrews—thus negating the completion and putting the Eagles with a much more difficult fourth and 15.

 

Andy Reid chose to punt, putting his faith in a defense that hadn't stopped Deuce McAllister or Reggie Bush all day.

 

The defense couldn't hold up, and that's all she wrote.

 


Chris Clemons' 73-yard fumble return TD, 2008:
Ok, I added 11 plays. I couldn't resist this game.

 

Final game of the 2008 season, Eagles-Cowboys for the last playoff spot in the NFC.

 

What could get better that that?

 

The Eagles whipped Dallas in this game, 44-6. I could have chosen any number of plays from this game, but I think I'll go with Chris Clemons' 73-yard fumble return touchdown early in the third quarter to put the Birds up by 31 points.

 

I could just as easily pick Joselio Hanson's fumble return touchdown.

 

Or virtually any snap taken by quarterback Tony Romo, who enjoyed arguably his worst day as a pro.

 

I don't think I will ever get tired of watching this game's highlights.

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