Amid a season chock full of added insults to injuries, the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers are planning to openly tease the Philadelphia Eagles on
Sunday. At halftime of their scheduled meeting, the Bucs will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 10-year
anniversary of their victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Naturally, they climbed over the Birds in the NFC Championship game to get
It’s hard to believe after all this time, but even still to
this day that may have been the most crushing defeat of the Andy Reid era. Coming
off of a conference championship appearance the previous year, the Eagles
finished the regular season 12-4, earning a first-round bye and home-field
advantage throughout the playoffs. They were a team on the rise, and the Super
Bowl was supposed to be the next step.
The stars seemed to be aligning in their favor as well. They were
set to host Tampa, a team that had been struggling to get over the hump for
awhile; a team that had never won a postseason game on the road; a team that
had never won a game at all when the temperature was below freezing. And Philadelphia
owned the ultimate home-field advantage, holding the last pro-football game
ever at Veterans Stadium.
Even on the opening kickoff, it appeared as though
everything was going to click. Brian Mitchell returned it 70 yards, setting up
a 20-yard Duce Staley run that gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
It would be their only lead of the game, their only
touchdown for that matter. Quickly the momentum was reversed, as anything that could go wrong
When they had the Bucs pinned deep, wide receiver Joe
Jurevicius got matched up on linebacker Barry Gardner, and took a shallow
crossing route 71 yards to set up a score to take over the lead. A stingy defense swarmed Donovan
McNabb, who lost two fumbles, one as the offense was driving toward the end of
the first half. Then the lasting image – down 10 but closing in on the goal in
the fourth quarter, Ronde Barber jumped a short hitch route and ran back McNabb’s
pass 92 yards to the house to seal the 27-10 victory for Tampa Bay.
Obviously the Eagles lost again in the NFC Championship a
year later, then in the Super Bowl the season after, either of which were arguably tougher to swallow. But in ’02, there was almost a feeling that they were a
team of destiny.
Here we are 10 years later, and it all feels like a distant
memory, partly because the Eagles are 3-9, but also because we would probably
just as soon like to forget about it for right now, maybe forever. Thankfully, for those watching at
home, we shouldn’t see or hear too much more about their little celebration.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that Reid and Jeffrey Lurie will be on hand to take it all in though. After all, they are pretty much the last
remaining remnants to that period in franchise history when you were almost
certain they were gonna win one of these things.
Then again, I'm sure both men realize there's no going back now.
Reid could still get some measure of revenge however, at least for Tampa's not-so-subtle choice of Week 14 as the day to salute their banner. The Buccaneers are 6-6, and still have a chance to sneak into the tournament. Beating a cupcake like the Eagles would go a long way to that end. Losing to Philly, on the other hand, could be the knockout blow.
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