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What in the world is wrong with Donovan McNabb?
Back in 1998, McNabb had the greatest game of his college career against Virginia Tech. He led his team down the field with less than two minutes left, winning the game with a last second touchdown pass.
If you've never seen it before, you can watch the entire drive here.
After a huge scramble for a first down, McNabb was completely spent (or so it seemed). He ended up getting physically ill. You could tell; he could barely move. It made it all the more impressive when he pulled out the win.
But notice something else. The announcers talking about how "this has happened before" to McNabb in big situations.
Fast forward to Super Bowl XLII.
The Patriots are winning, but the Eagles have a chance late in the game. They need a quick score. McNabb should be running the hurry-up offense, but he's not. In one of the most frustrating wastes of time ever in a Super Bowl, the Eagles took over four minutes to drive down the field. Most of that time was spent by McNabb trying to catch his breath in between plays.
Once again, in the biggest moment of his life, he was sick on the field.
McNabb denied all of the reports, but his teammates eventually let the story get out. Freddie Mitchell claimed that McNabb was so winded, he actually had to call some of the plays down the stretch. Hank Fraley and Jon Runyan both gave similar accounts of what happened.
"He fought to the end," Fraley told Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia. "He gave it his all. He was almost puking in the huddle. One play had to be called by Freddie Mitchell because Donovan was mumbling because he was almost puking."
The man physically, or maybe mentally, cannot handle the stress of a close game.
I bring this up because I was watching the Eagles/Giants game this weekend. In what was the biggest game of the season for the Eagles, McNabb once again had a chance to lead his team down the field to victory at the end of the fourth quarter.
McNabb scrambled for seven yards and was tackled just short of the first down on the Philadelphia 43 yard line. There was 2:29 left in the fourth quarter when he was tackled. But McNabb couldn't get another play off before the two-minute warning.
He didn't even try.
He appeared winded, almost hyperventilating.
I don't blame Andy Reid for running the ball twice in an attempt to get the first down. I wouldn't have put the ball in McNabb's hands in that situation, either.
The dude appeared to be in a complete panic.
I don't get it. I really don't. This Eagles team is good. When they beat people, they really beat people. When they've won games this season, it's been by an average of 18 points.
When they've lost games, it's been by 6 points or less. Every time.
So in close games, McNabb fails. And it didn't just start this season. McNabb is 24-27 in his career in games that are decided by 6 points or less. This issue has followed him throughout his career. And the bigger the game, the worse it gets.
Do you know how many times McNabb has won a playoff game that was decided by less than 7 points? Once. In that miracle 4th-and-26 game against Brett Favre.
The Eagles have peaked with McNabb. When they were leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else, they could deal with McNabb's tendency to shrink in clutch situations. Now that the Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins have all caught up, they need a quarterback who can get them over the hump in games like last Sunday's.
The Eagles are going to miss the playoffs again this year. When the season's over, they're going to have to make some tough decisions. One of those decisions may have to be ending the McNabb era in Philadelphia.