Considering that the Eagles and Green Bay Packers are two of the oldest continuous franchises in NFL history, it would seem that the teams would have a long and intense playoff history against each other. Yet despite a combined 168 seasons in the NFL, the Packers and Eagles have squared off in the postseason just twice.
Of course both of those games rate amongst the greatest games in Eagles’ history and were the site of some of the most iconic plays.
No one will ever forget the 4th-and-26 pass from Donovan McNabb to wide receiver Freddie Mitchell with 72 seconds remaining in regulation to set up the game-tying field goal from David Akers and the eventual game-winner in overtime. Ask anyone who was around for the 1960 championship game, played on a Boxing Day, Monday afternoon and they will tell you that the most memorable play was the very last one of the game. That’s where the legendary two-way player, Chuck Bednarik, sat on fullback Jim Taylor until the clock expired at the Eagles’ 8-yard line.
As we’re often reminded, the 17-13 victory was the last time the Eagles were champions of the NFL. Only two other NFL teams (Lions, Cardinals) have suffered through a longer championship drought.
So if 50 years of history coupled with just a pair of playoff games is any indication, Sunday’s NFC Wild-Card showdown at The Linc could be another classic. Of course none of that matters now, but it sure is fun to measure how the past links with the present. There’s a line between Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. There also is one with Norm Van Brocklin, McNabb and Michael Vick and the two-game winning streak on the line.
Still, the thing about classic games like the 1960 NFL Championship and the 2003 NFC Division playoff is that people rarely remember the details of the game leading up to the final plays. They remember the broad strokes, like the ’60 title game was Vince Lombardi’s only loss in the playoffs or that the Packers have gone 1-5 in the playoffs since the ’03 loss.
But often the game’s most notable hero is the one least expected. Did anyone think McNabb would look for Mitchell on 4th-and-26 on the do-or-die play? Sure, the immodest Mitchell, in his bizarro reality, probably talked himself into thinking that only he could have delivered on that game-turning play. The reality is Mitchell will go down as one of the biggest first-round busts ever.
But Ted Dean was a victim of bad luck and was the proverbial meteor shooting through the sky.