NFL: Donovan McNabb's 8 Greatest Moments as a Philadelphia Eagle

Randy JobstSenior Analyst IJune 30, 2011

NFL: Donovan McNabb's 8 Greatest Moments as a Philadelphia Eagle

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    Donovan McNabb is one of the most beloved Philadelphia Eagles of all time, no doubt about it. Five NFC title games and one trip to the Superbowl were the highlights of one fantastic decade of football for McNabb in Philly.

    This past season was a disaster for McNabb. He was traded to the Redskins on Easter Sunday in 2010. He won his first start in a Week 1 upset of the Dallas Cowboys, but he only went downhill from there. He was replaced in the final two minutes against the Detroit Lions because of "cardio vascular issues" by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. He was eventually replaced as the starter and demoted to third string by the end of the season. As an Eagles fan, you couldn't help but feel bad for the guy.

    McNabb went from Eagles great, to division rival and now to player Eagles fan are probably ready to root for again. Last week McNabb spent time with current Eagles' players working out. Is it actually possible that McNabb could return to the Eagles as a backup? I wouldn't rule it out, but it isn't likely. McNabb still has plenty left in the tank and shouldn't have to be a backup in 2011.

    With all that being said, instead of pondering about the future of Donnie Mac, let's look back at some of his greatest moments as an Eagle.

8. 1999 NFL Draft

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    We've all heard this story before. Philadelphia Eagles have the number two pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Everyone wants Andy Reid to take Ricky Williams with the second pick, we take McNabb instead. The pick was booed by several Eagles' fans who made the trip up to New York City.

    Donovan McNabb would prove to be the better choice. The Eagles were in dire need of a quarterback and we all know you can't turn around a franchise without a franchise quarterback. Ricky Williams had a pretty good career in the NFL, but only lasted three years with the team that drafted him in 1999, the New Orleans Saints.

    McNabb overcame some harsh criticism by the fans and the media but was able to win people over very early on in his career.

7. 2004 MNF Beatdown in Dallas

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    The November 15th, 2004 Monday Night Football showdown against the hated Dallas Cowboys didn't save the Eagles's season that year, but it sure sent a message to the entire league. That message was this team is for real.

    The Eagles were coming off a drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-3. Combine that with Terrell Owens caught on camera jawing in McNabb's ear on the sidelines during the loss at Pittsburgh, and the Eagles were in need of a bounce back game. They got that and then some.

    The game and Donovan McNabb's performance are most famous for "The Scramble". Late in the second quarter, Donovan McNabb scrambled around for 14 seconds, trying to find an open man while at the same time avoiding several pass rushers before he eventually found Freddie Mitchell 60 yards down the field. McNabb probably covered more field running around in the backfield than the yardage on his 60 yard bomb.

    McNabb finished 345 passing yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles laid down the hammer in a 49-21 bounce back win. The Eagles improved their record 8-1 and proved to a national audience that they were a legit Superbowl contender.

6. Thanksgiving Night 2008

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    Donovan McNabb was done. Everyone was ready for the Kevin Kolb era to begin. The past two games where McNabb only played six quarters, he committed six turnovers.

    McNabb rarely was able to move the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in a Week 11 matchup where the teams tied at 13-13. After the game McNabb claimed he didn't realize an NFL game could end in a tie. The following week McNabb was pulled after just one half against the Baltimore Ravens after his 59 yards and two interception performance. That's six turnovers in his last six quarters.

    McNabb and the Eagles both needed a win just four days after their loss to the Ravens. The Eagles were set to host the Arizona Cardinals Thanksgiving Night. Head coach Andy Reid waited until Monday to announce he was sticking with McNabb as his starter. Once again, Andy Reid's faith in McNabb paid off.

    McNabb and the Eagles got off to a hot start, scoring the first 21 points of the game. McNabb finished the game with 260 passing yards and four touchdowns. The win help propelled the Eagles into the playoffs when they looked dead and McNabb looked finished as an Eagle.


5. McNabb's First Playoff Win

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    In just his first season as a full time starter and only his second season in the NFL, Donovan McNabb was able to win his first playoff game.

    It was an NFC Wildcard game on December 31st 2000. The Eagles were facing many experts' Superbowl pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game started out as a defensive stalemate as neither team had much success moving the ball in the first half.

    It was 7-3 late in the first half until Donovan McNabb orchestrated a beautiful  two minute drill. It was an eight play 69 yard drive that ended with a five yard touchdown pass to Na Brown. The Eagles took a 14-3 lead into half and never looked back.

    The Eagles' defense remained stout in the second half and held the Bucs out of the end zone for the entire game. It was the first time in the playoffs since 1949 that the Eagles had kept an opponent from scoring a touchdown.

    McNabb finished the day scoring all three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) and managed the game like a 10 year vet. It was the first of many playoff victories for McNabb as an Eagle.

4. 5th NFC Title Game

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    The 2008 season for Donovan McNabb was a roller coaster of a season. Actually that probably doesn't even do it justice. McNabb went from Eagles starter to the quarterback everyone had given up on to regaining the faith again to back in the NFC Title game. The Eagles had about nine lives in 2008.

    After two straight playoff road upsets of both the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, the Eagles were back in familiar territory, the NFC Championship game. The Eagles had a rematch with a team they had previously beat 48-20 just two months ago.

    The Eagles got off to a horrible start on both sides of the ball. Larry Fitzgerald had three first half touchdowns while McNabb failed to get the Eagles in the end zone in the first half.

    The Eagles would rally back, scoring three straight touchdowns without allowing the Cardinals to answer back and taking a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter. The Cards would eventually take the lead back after an eight plus minute drive capped off by a eight yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower to make it a 32-25 Arizona lead. McNabb finished the game with four straight incompletions and once again McNabb fell short of that elusive Superbowl title.

    The 2008 season and the 2009 NFC Title game wasn't about how the Eagles came up short, it was about how McNabb and the Eagles were left for dead but were able to rise up and come one final drive short of a trip to the Superbowl.


3. 2004 Divisional Round

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    The 2004 Divisional Round playoff matchup, or as it's better known as "4th and 26".

    The Eagles were coming off a third straight season ending in playoff disappointment but looked poised to finally get over the hump and reach the Superbowl. But first, the Eagles would have to get past the Green Bay Packers.

    McNabb got off to an abysmal start, failing to convert a first down on the first three drives, while the Packers were able to get two first quarter touchdowns to take an early 14-0 lead.

    The Eagles defense held strong in the final three quarters, holding the Pack to just three points while the Eagles slowly got back into the game.

    The Eagles trailed 17-14 late in the fourth quarter when the Packers were driving on a possible game clinching score when they stalled at the 41 yard line. The Eagles would have one final drive with just over two minutes left in the game. The drive stalled after a long sack and two incomplete passes put the Eagles in an impossible 4th and 26. The Eagles' offensive line gave McNabb just enough time to find Freddie Mitchell open right at the market and McNabb threw an absolute laser. The drive would end in a game tying David Akers field goal to force overtime where Akers would strike again for the sudden death victory.

2. The Broken Ankle Game

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    It wasn't quite his greatest performance of his career, but it was definitely his gutsiest of his career. It was November 17th, 2002. The Eagles were hosting the Arizona Cardinals in a Week 11 matchup.

    On just the third play for the Eagles' offense, McNabb was sacked by both Adrian Wilson and LaVar Woods. The play was thought to have caused a sprained ankle for McNabb.

    With the Cardinals taking an early 7-0 lead, the Eagles looked in trouble. McNabb would take charge of the Eagles offense despite playing on what was later discovered to be a broken ankle. The Eagles would score four first half touchdowns and rout the Cardinals 38-14.

    McNabb finished the game with 255 yards and four touchdowns. McNabb would be our the final six weeks of the regular season but would be back at full strength for the playoffs.

    Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley would lead the Eagles to five straight wins and a 12-4 finish to the season.

    The Broken Ankle was on NFL Network's Top 10 Gutsiest Performances for good reason. McNabb toughed out an injury that would keep him out for seven weeks and still had one of his best statistical games of his career.

1. 2005 NFC Title Game

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    He finally got over the hump.

    On January 23, 2005 Donovan McNabb finally won an NFC Title game.

    McNabb out-dueled his future successor, and the Eagles' defense shut the Falcons out in the entire second half.

    McNabb didn't have an epic statistical game, only throwing for 180 yards, but managed a great game and never put the Eagles in harm's way.

    McNabb would overcome below-freezing temperatures, the intense pressure stemming from three straight losses in the NFC Title game, and not having his star receiver Terrell Owens.

    The Eagles would go on to lose in Superbowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots.

    It was the first time the Eagles had reached the Superbowl since 1980. When you quarterbacked a franchise that has never won a Superbowl, it doesn't get any better than winning the NFC Title game.