Top 10 plays in Eagles playoff history
4th and 26
There were 72 seconds left in the 2003 conference semifinal playoff game, the Eagles trailed the Packers by three and Donovan McNabb had just been sacked for a 16-yard loss. The Eagles faced 4th-and-26 on their own 26-yard-line. Hopeless. And then the impossible happened. McNabb fired to Freddie Mitchell for 28 yards and the most improbable first down in NFL postseason history. Seven plays later, David Akers tied the game and five minutes into overtime — after Brian Dawkins picked off Brett Favre — Akers won it.
"Donovan said, 'You ready?' Am I ready? I've been ready all freaking day," Mitchell said later.
Ted Dean wins it
The Packers took a 13-10 lead over the Eagles early in the fourth quarter of the 1960 NFL Championship Game at Franklin Field, but the Eagles responded by driving deep into Packers territory, and on 2nd-and-Goal from the 5-yard-line, Norm Van Brocklin changed the play, handing off to Ted Dean instead of established veteran Billy Ray Barnes. Dean, a rookie who hadn't rushed for a touchdown all year, ran behind left guard Gerry Huth for the TD that gave the Eagles their last NFL title.
"It was a thrill to score that touchdown," Dean said. "But if anybody else had scored it and we had won, it would have been just as big a thrill."
Westbrook takes a screen to the house
The Eagles led the Vikings by an uneasy two points late in their 2008 wild-card game at the Metrodome, and Brian Westbrook had been a non-factor. When things were at their bleakest, Westbrook took a short screen pass from Donovan McNabb and weaved through traffic for a 71-yard touchdown on the way to a 26-14 win. Assisted by early blocks from Nick Cole, Jamaal Jackson and Correll Buckhalter and down-field blocks by Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson, Westbrook recorded the longest offensive touchdown of his career.
"If you keep giving him the ball, eventually he's going to make a play," cornerback Joselio Hanson said.
Wilbert destroys the 'Boys
Those who were there say the Vet was never louder. When Wilbert Montgomery opened the 1980 NFC Championship Game with a 42-yard touchdown run, it set the tone for one of the most historic wins in Eagles history. The Cowboys actually tied the game in the second quarter, but behind Montgomery's 194 rushing yards — to this day, the ninth-most rushing yards in NFL postseason history — the Eagles advanced to their first Super Bowl with a 20-7 win over the Cowboys.
"He was in the end zone so fast," Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey recalled. "Before their defensive backs even turned around, he was gone."
All about Steve
Neither offense could do a thing in the 1948 NFL Championship Game, with the Eagles taking on the Chicago Cardinals in a historic blizzard at Shibe Park in Northeast Philadelphia. It remains the only postseason game in NFL history that was scoreless going into the fourth quarter. But after a late Cards fumble, Steve Van Buren — who famously had to take a bus and two subways to the game — scored from five yards out and the Eagles won 7-0 for the first NFL title in franchise history.
"Steve ran right behind me," All-Pro offensive lineman Al Wistert recalled 65 years later. "Nobody ever touched him."
Duce opens the scoring
One of the greatest moments in Eagles postseason history led to one of the most disappointing finishes. It was the 2002 NFC Championship Game. And after Brian Mitchell returned Martin Gramatica's opening kickoff 70 yards, Duce Staley got the crowd at the final game at the Vet into a frenzy with a 20-yard touchdown run behind center Hank Fraley just 52 seconds into the game. Staley inexplicably got just 12 more carries, and the Bucs outscored the Eagles 27-3 the rest of the way.
"I thought the game was over," Staley said later. "There was no doubt in my mind at that point we were going to the Super Bowl."
Chad Lewis clinches NFC Championship Game
It was the last touchdown of Chad Lewis's career. And the biggest. The Eagles led the Falcons 20-10 late in the 2004 NFC Championship Game at the Linc and needed one more score to lock up their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1980. On a 3rd-and-2, Donovan McNabb found Lewis in the deep right corner of the end zone for Lewis' second TD of the game, and the Eagles won 27-10.
Lewis suffered a serious foot injury on the play, missed the Super Bowl and played only a few more games in his career. "I had helped my team get to the Super Bowl," Lewis said years later. "I remember thinking, 'If you complain now, you're the biggest loser around.'"
Donovan to DeSean in the desert
Early in the fourth quarter of the 2008 NFC Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz., Donovan McNabb threw a 62-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson, who was matched up against future teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Jackson bobbled the ball three or four times before finally securing it as he ran into the end zone, giving the Eagles a 25-24 lead. They were 11 minutes from the Super Bowl. Alas, Hall of Famer Kurt Warner responded by driving the Cardinals for a touchdown and a 32-25 win.
"I've seen guys bobble the ball one or two times. But never four or five," said Cards cornerback Matt Ware.
Hugh obliterates Jim Miller
On a bitterly cold day at Soldier Field, the Eagles faced the top-seeded Bears in a 2001 conference semifinal playoff game. Early in the second quarter, safety Damon Moore picked off a Jim Miller pass intended for Dez White and returned it 18 yards. During that return, Eagles All-Pro defensive end Hugh Douglas obliterated Miller with a legal block. Miller was unable to return to the game, and the Eagles went on to win 33-19 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Said Douglas years later: "I told him, 'Don't move.' He moved. The rest is history."
Sheldon Brown. Reggie Bush. Enough said.
Brian Dawkins called it the biggest hit he's ever seen. Two plays into the Eagles-Saints conference semifinal game at the Superdome in 2006, Sheldon Brown hit Reggie Bush so hard as he was trying to catch a pass that it seemed like the entire stadium gasped. The Saints wound up winning 27-24 — and Bush actually returned to the game — but Brown's hit made the cover of Sports Illustrated and is widely considered one of the greatest hits in playoff history.
"I literally had that one split-second where I thought I was going to die," Bush said on the Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe podcast.