Thanks for the Memories: The 10 Best Moments of Donovan McNabb's Career

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIApril 10, 2010

In case you have not heard yet, the Philadelphia Eagles sent quarterback Donovan McNabb to the nation's capital for the 37th overall pick in the 2010 draft and either a third- or fourth-round draft pick in 2011, thus ending McNabb's 11-year tenure in Philadelphia.

With the Philadelphia Eagles, McNabb earned six Pro Bowl selections, led the Eagles to the postseason seven times, and broke virtually every franchise passing record in existence.

He also left behind a thousand memories that Eagles fans will never forget. Ever. 

Honorable Mention: 18-point comeback vs. Arizona in NFC Championship game. 

The Eagles found themselves in an extremely unfavorable situation against the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 18, 2009. They were losing, 24-6, and on the verge of suffering a blowout loss to one of the worst playoff teams in recent NFL history.

McNabb has never been known as a comeback king, but what happened next was the largest comeback by an NFC team in conference championship game history. 

After two scoring strikes to tight end Brent Celek, McNabb hooked up with rookie receiver DeSean Jackson on an improbable 62-yard touchdown, a reception that Jackson juggled four times before securing the loose pigskin for a go-ahead touchdown with just 11 minutes to play.

During the 18-point comeback, McNabb completed 11 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Had the Eagles won the game, McNabb's bomb to Jackson would have gone down as one of the five greatest plays in Philadelphia Eagles history.

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10. Overtime wins vs. Pittsburgh and Dallas.

In 2000, McNabb's first full season as a starter, the Eagles held a 5-4 record, with pivotal games against Dallas and Pittsburgh looming.

Against the Cowboys, McNabb threw for 228 yards and a touchdown, and added 58 yards on the ground. He led the Eagles on a game-tying field goal drive late in the fourth quarter. In overtime, McNabb led the Eagles to a game-winning field goal.

Against the Steelers, McNabb threw a career high 55 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He led the Eagles from a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes, including a game-tying 42-yard field goal by David Akers on the final play of regulation. In overtime, a second 42-yard field goal by Akers won the game, improving the Eagles' record to 7-4.

The Eagles cruised into the postseason with an 11-5 record, thanks mainly to the most clutch two-game stretch of McNabb's career. 

9. Overcoming broken thumb in 2003.

In 2003, McNabb played for the majority of the season with a broken thumb on his throwing hand and didn't miss a game. Although his numbers won't show it, he had a fantastic season.

He tossed 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, and finished the season with a very mediocre 79.6 passer rating. 

However, he played with perhaps the worst set of wide receivers in NFL history, as no Eagles receiver caught a touchdown pass in the first two months of the season. He also had to deal with some highly-publicized racial remarks from ESPN commentator Rush Limbaugh.

McNabb overcame it all to lead the Eagles on a nine-game winning streak late in the season, which resulted in a third consecutive conference championship game appearance. 

8. 75th anniversary game against Detroit.

Although McNabb returned three months early from an ACL injury, he struggled in the first two games of the 2007 season, both Eagles' losses, and critics began to question whether he would ever regain his form.

Against the 2-0 Detroit Lions, McNabb turned in the greatest performance of his 11-year career. He completed 21 of 26 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating was 158.3, the first perfect passer rating in franchise history.

Three of the touchdowns went to newly acquired receiver Kevin Curtis, who broke an NFL record with 205 yards receiving in the first half. The Eagles jumped to a 42-21 halftime lead, and cruised to a 56-21 win.

7. Four touchdowns on broken ankle

On the third play of the game against the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, Donovan McNabb suffered an ankle injury when he was sacked by safety Adrian Wilson. He briefly left the game to go to the locker room, but returned before the Eagles' next drive and played the remainder of the game.

McNabb completed 20 of 25 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't scramble once for the first time in his career. The Eagles won big, 38-14.

After the game, McNabb's ankle was x-rayed, and what was previously thought to have been a sprained ankle was revealed to be broken in three different places. He missed the final six games of the regular season, returning in January to lead the Eagles to victory in the divisional playoffs. 

6. Thanksgiving win vs Arizona

McNabb is used to constant pressure and criticism. After all, he plays in Philadelphia, one of the most passionate sports cities in America. But getting benched, after just six quarters of poor play? That was downright scary.

So against the eventual NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving night, and with second-round draft pick Kevin Kolb on the sidelines, McNabb knew that his future might be in doubt.

He responded by turning in the game of his life, completing 27 of 39 passes for 260 yards. He tossed four touchdown passes, including one to Brian Westbrook on the game's opening drive. And most importantly, he didn't commit a turnover. 

The Eagles cruised to a 48-20 victory, and one week after being left for dead with a 5-5-1 record, stood in the thick of the wild-card race.

5. 44-6

Thanks to a Sunday of Miracles that included a huge Oakland Raiders upset of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Eagles needed to just win their final regular season game to clinch the sixth seed in the NFC  playoffs. But so did the Dallas Cowboys. 

McNabb led the charge for the Eagles, tossing two touchdown passes and rushing for a third, all three touchdowns in the second quarter. 

The Eagles scored 24 points in the second quarter and 17 in the third, cruising to a 44-6 victory. The Eagles' 38-point win marked the biggest blowout in the history of the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. 

4. Final drive in Super Bowl XXXIX.

In Super Bowl XXXIX, Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook couldn't run the ball, the offensive line couldn't block anybody, especially All-Pro defensive tackle Richard Seymour, and Terrell Owens, the Eagles' best offensive weapon since Steve Van Buren, was playing with one good leg. 

With 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles began a drive from their own 21-yard line. Everybody remembers this drive, as the Eagles, needing two scores to tie the game, slowly and methodically drove down the field.

With 1:48 left in the game, McNabb completed a 30-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Greg Lewis to bring the Eagles within three, 24-21.

Although the Eagles didn't win, thanks in part to McNabb's three interceptions, the final touchdown drive sums up McNabb's tenure in Philly. Ask anybody and they'll say that McNabb threw up in the Super Bowl. But not a single member of the Eagles' offense has actually confirmed this rumor. And how did that drive end? In the best way possible: a touchdown.

3. 14.1 second scramble

From 2000 to 2004, the Eagles won nine of their ten games against the Dallas Cowboys, which included an incredible six wins by at least three touchdowns. 

On November 15, 2004, the 8-1 Eagles faced the struggling Dallas Cowboys, eager to erase the painful memories of a blowout loss suffered to the Pittsburgh Steelers a week earlier.

With the Eagles leading 28-14 in the second quarter, quarterback Donovan McNabb took the snap and immediately began running for his life. After 14.1 seconds, in which he ran back to the eight-yard line and crossed over to the other side of the field, he unleashed a rocket, which was caught by Freddie Mitchell for a 60-yard gain. 

McNabb's masterpiece is one of the greatest regular season plays in team history, and could not have come at a better time or against a better team.

2. 4th and 26 comeback.

The quarterback who couldn't bring the city of Philadelphia a Super Bowl championship also had a reputation for failing in the clutch. But on Jan. 11, 2004, McNabb led the most exciting comeback in Eagles' postseason history. 

Trailing 17-14 with just 1:12 remaining, the Eagles faced a 4th and 26 from their own 25-yard line. McNabb fired a 28-yard strike to receiver Freddie Mitchell, extending the drive. The Eagles eventually tied the game on a last-second David Akers field goal, and won in overtime.

For the game, McNabb completed 21 of 39 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter. He also rushed 11 times for 107 yards, the highest single-game total in NFL postseason history. 

1. Leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl

For three consecutive seasons, from 2001 to 2003, the Philadelphia Eagles reached the NFC Championship game, but advanced no further. It was heartbreak in the worst way possible, as the Eagles lost the final two games at home and scored just a single touchdown.

Then came one of the most satisfying games in franchise history , as the Eagles dominated the Atlanta Falcons 27-10, and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX.

McNabb threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-sealing touchdown strike to tight end Chad Lewis with 3:21 left.