My biggest letdown in 60 years of following the Eagles was the 2008 NFC Title Game here in Phoenix. I figured on a double digit win and the Eagles were overconfident. Everybody knows that the regular season is not a good measure when sizing up the playoffs. This situation appeared to be different. Consider the following:
–-the Cardinals had only a 9-7 record. The last time a team made it to the top with that kind of performance-the 1979 Los Angeles Rams;
–Arizona was 6-0 verses teams in the weak NFC West but only 3-7 out of their playpen;
–the final game of the regular season was a meaningless win over the Seattle Seahawks; in the other words, the Cardinals would have won the division with a .500 record;
–four of the seven losses were by the following scores; the only game at Arizona was with the Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets, 56 to 35;
Philadelphia Eagles, 48 to 20
Minnesota Vikings, 35 to 10
New England Patriots, 47 to 7
Arizona at home defeated the 11-5 Atlanta Falcons 30 to 24; at Carolina the Cardinals defeated the Panthers 33 to 13. Carolina had defeated Arizona 27 to 23 at the same location two months earlier. Now came the home game with the visiting Philadelphia Eagles that was certain step to the Super Bowl. Here were the major plays and overall statistics that hurt the Birds.
–In the first quarter Donovan McNabb hit Greg Lewis perfectly for a 50 yard completion at the Arizona 15. Lewis dropped the ball and was not with the team the following year,
–After the Eagles narrowed the score to 24 to 19, David Ackers missed the extra point,
–The Eagles went ahead 25 to 24 on the last scoring drive. However, the two point conversion failed.
If Arizona got the ensuing kickoff trailing by four, there would have hold fewer options moving the ball, making for an easier job for the Eagles defense. The Cardinals would have had to pass more and longer. As it was, they were within field goal rang for Neil Rackers.
Other big things that ran throughout the game.
–The Arizona Cardinals ran for 102 yards in Post Game versus only 25 in our 48 to 20 victory;
–Turnovers went four to one, Eagles favor in the regular season; but 3 to 1 for Arizona in the title game. That is a net difference of five.
I do not think the Eagles would have traded McNabb after 2009 if the had gone to the Super Bowl the previous year.