What Would Buddy Do?
Season in Review: Top Five Eagles games of the 2008 season (now with extra hindsight bias)
Posted on February 7th, 2009 at 5:30 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

As part of the post-season post-mortem, I’m treating myself to a review of the happy moments from this past season.  I offer you my five favorite games, which I will argue were the “best” Eagles games of the season.  “Best” is pretty loosely defined here, but the criteria in play are (a) quality of opponent/ victory, (b) potential for persisting in our memory beyond the next couple months, including signature plays or moments, and (c) how I enjoyed that particular game.  Essentially, I’m trying to figure out which five games I’ll remember a few years from now.  Note that I’ve left myself some wiggle room with criterion (c) — where and how I watched the game will actually matter here.

For those of you still convinced this wasn’t a cool season, rest assured that this was actually a challenging list to assemble.  I seriously sweated some of these calls.  Yeah.  No kidding.  Note also that the playoff games don’t automatically earn a spot on the list (though it’s hard to exclude them).

And now, in descending order…

(5) Eagles 26, Vikings 14 @Minnesota, January 4, 2009.  This edges out the honorable mentions by virtue of being a playoff game and having two signature plays: (a) the Brian Westbrook screen-pass TD and (b) the Asante Samuel pick-six, which included Chris Clemons flattening Tavaris Jackson.  The Westbrook TD will livve in my memory as a companion piece to the long screen-pass TD against the Redskins last season.  It’s also worth noting that, um, well, maybe there won’t be a ton of awesome Brian Westbrook plays in the future.  What I’ll remember about watching this game is that it felt like the Eagles were losing throughout most of the first half (even though they were winning).  What I’ll probably forget is how a bad snap made the ending of this game a lot less stressful than it could have been.

(4) Eagles 20, Giants 14 @ The Meadowlands, December 7, 2008.  I would argue that this was the game that turned the season for the Eagles — more so than the win against the Cardinals.  Sure, the Giants were reeling a bit from the Plax news, and the Birds had a couple extra days of rest, but this was the game that showed us how they’d make their run: tough defense and an efficient offense led by a pissed-off Donovan McNabb.  It didn’t hurt that Antonio Pierce was personally responsible for the Eagles’ two touchdowns, the second of which will be remembered as signature play (the dump-off pass where Westbrook just ran away from Pierce).  It also didn’t hurt that I had great seats and ended up on TV.  At the time, I expected that this would be the highlight of the season.

(3) Eagles 23, Giants 11 @ The Meadowlands, January 11, 2009.  An abusive effort from the Eagles’ defense that included two (2) fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter.  We knew the Giants weren’t the same team they were in early November, but they still had a week off and home-field advantage: and the Birds still roughed them up.  In addition to the fourth-down plays, we’ll also remember the Asante Samuel pick and Donovan McNabb’s phone call (though we didn’t actually see that).  We had great seats (at the goal line, nine rows up) and the Birds scored both their TDs right in front of us.  And we’ll fondly remember joining the crowd of Birds’ fans above the tunnel after the game.  And then we went to Disney World (!).

(2) Eagles 44, Cowboys 6 @ Lincoln Financial Field, December 28, 2008.  Eagles porn!  Not since the playoff win against the Lions in the mid-nineties had a game just completely gone this improbably well for the Birds.  That it happened against the Cowboys with a playoff spot on the line in the final game of the season, in a game that wouldn’t have mattered had a 13.5-point favorite lost at home in the one-o’clock slot…well, I mean, I guess that’s why we call it Eagles porn.  Things you probably don’t remember about this game include the fact that McNabb only threw for 175 yards (though he accounted for 3 TDs).  Things you’ll remember for a long time include Chris Clemons dropping the stiff arm on Tashard choice, Brian Dawkins ripping the ball out of Marion Barber’s hands, and the part where Tony Romo apparently collapsed in the locker room.  Note that as of today (February 7, 2009), it appears that the Cowboys have yet to recover from this loss.

(1) Eagles 15, Steelers 6 @Lincoln Financial Field, September 21, 2008.  Would this — a September game against an AFC opponent — have been number 1 if the Steelers hadn’t won the Super Bowl?  No.  But it would have been no lower than number 3.  This game was the sneak preview of the Eagles defense that would emerge in December.  Watching the game again is as Eagles porn-y as the Cowboys game, and maybe even more so: the Eagles’ pass rush looked like something out of the early 90s.  From the NFL.com game report:

The Eagles recorded nine sacks and a safety and had at least twice that many knock-downs. And those numbers don’t count the four times Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger barely escaped sacks and was credited with 6 total rushing yards. If Roethlisberger was less elusive, the Eagles very easily could have tallied 15 sacks or more.

Remember also that the Eagles didn’t have much on offense that day: Westbrook got hurt early, Kevin Curtis wasn’t back yet, and the Steelers can also play some defense.  But the Birds got it done, most because Pittsburgh could not keep their quarterback upright.  The signature play of the game — and maybe the season — is undoubtedly the Brian Dawkins superhero strip-and-recovery with 3:39 left in the game in which Dawkins appears to violate the laws of Newtonian physics (feel free to treat yourself to another viewing).  If this game gets mysteriously erased from my DVR, couples therapy will be in my future.

Honorable mentions: Eagles 48, Cardinals 20, Dallas 41, Eagles 37 (the only loss that had a chance).

Comments so far:

Link Here | February 9, 2009,

Good effort. Compare to a truly bad season like 2005, or even 2007, where you’d probably have trouble coming up with 5 good Eagles games.

I’d go with:

5: Eagles 15, Steelers 6 — I live around a lot of Steelers fans, so I really enjoyed this at the time, and it was a much-needed show of defense after the Cowboys loss. The Steelers winning the Superbowl actually bumps this down a bit for me. Everyone but me in York County bought new championship swag. Bummer.

4. Vikings Playoff game — I wasn’t too impressed with the Vikings as a playoff opponent before the game, but left with a healthy respect for their defense.

3. Eagles-Giants regular season
2. Eagles-Giants post-season (I pretty much agree with everything you said about both of these.)

1. Eagles 44, Dallas 6. I hate Dallas so much that any victory over them is pretty much my favorite game of the season. As long as TO is on that team, my hatred of them is exponentially greater than even my hatred of the Giants (clearly my 2nd most hated team) But, I think a playoff win over the Giants would top a “normal” win over the Cowboys.

Leading up to the game, I was prepared to be thrilled with the booby prize of knocking Dallas out of the playoffs. When I found out that amazingly the game would matter, I was, I admit, apprehensive. With so much on the line, I expected a close, low-scoring game.

I just can’t think of a comparably-important game that just turned into a party like this. The 2000 and 2001 playoff victories over Tampa, perhaps? I watched it a packed sports bar, “Game On,” on the Atlantic City shopping, and had a great time high-fiving and singing the fight song with other birds fans. Much better Eagles crowd than I expected from what I thought would be a cheesy tourist (of which I was one) bar.

But back to the game: the Cowboys were supposedly a good team. Completely embarrassing them=AWESOME. That they still haven’t quite recovered=AWESOMER.

I mean, at one point it pretty much looked like Tony Romo was going to cry right there on the field.

I won’t quite say this is the best Eagles game I’ve ever watched…but I will say that I think it was the most fun. A win I’ll savor for a long time.

Not to be too much of a downer, because now that we’re a few weeks away from the Cardinals loss, my perspective of the past season is mostly positive (compared to 2002 and 2003), but if the defense had held or the Eagles had been able to come back and win in OT against the Cardinals, I think that would have been one of the signature Eagles games of all time, especially if they’d gone on to win it all.

Comment by BrianS


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