The Philadelphia Eagles have a rich history dating back to 1933. Since 2000, they have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. While playoff games inevitably get the most attention, regular-season games often produce the most unexpected classics.
10. The Pickle Juice Game
Sept. 3, 2000- Eagles 41, Cowboys 14
The Eagles capped off the 1990s with three consecutive losing seasons, but they took steps forward with a 5-11 effort during the rookie season of both Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid in 1999. Optimism surrounded the team entering the 21st century.
Mike Quick called the season opener in Dallas the hottest weather he’d ever witnessed during a football game, and the Eagles countered with a bizarre strategy of drinking pickle juice to avoid cramps. The players, whether for a placebo effect or for actual conditioning, stormed their aging division rivals with an emphatic 41-14 beatdown.
Reid announced a new era by calling for a surprise onside kick on the season’s first play to capture momentum that Philadelphia never relinquished. Duce Staley ran all over the Texas Stadium turf for 201 yards on the ground and 61 yards receiving. The excitement surrounding the 1-0 mark quickly erased the pain of a fan base who had suffered a brutal stretch in the late 1990s.
9. The Snow Bowl
Dec. 8, 2013- Eagles 34, Lions 20
The Eagles started the 2013 season with a 3-5 record under hot-shot rookie head coach Chip Kelly. However, they caught fire down the stretch and took advantage of a weak crop of NFC playoff bubble teams. The most memorable game during their 7-1 second half came at Lincoln Financial Field against the Detroit Lions.
The forecast for the morning of Dec. 8 didn’t worry fans attending the game, but the local meteorologists got one wrong. A blizzard swept through South Philadelphia during one of the wackiest games in NFL history. The need to keep the ball on the ground gave LeSean McCoy the opportunity to run for a single-game franchise record of 217 yards. He ran for touchdowns from 40 and 57 yards while Chris Polk added a 38-yard scamper to put Detroit away.
Jason Kelce led a group of sleeveless linemen too concerned about firing up a raucous home crowd to worry about frostbite, and Brent Celek passed up a garbage time touchdown by sliding through the heavy snow to set the Eagles up to clock the ball in the final two minutes.
The Snow Bowl was not anticipated as an all-time classic. However, fans enjoyed the unexpected bliss of losing cell service and enjoying the chaos on the field without worrying about the traffic delays or the pressures of anything going on outside the walls of the Linc.
8. T.O. returns to Philadelphia
Oct. 8, 2006- Eagles 38, Cowboys 24
Terrell Owens became the most celebrated offseason acquisition in Philadelphia sports history in 2004, and he lived up to every bit of the hype during his first season with the Eagles. After a loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, things spun out of control. T.O. took his antics off the field to unforeseen levels and ended up in a Cowboys uniform by 2006.
Order was restored in his first return to Philadelphia. McNabb threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 Eagles victory, while the defense held Owens to just three receptions for 45 yards. Cornerback Lito Sheppard made the most memorable play of the day when he denied a Dallas comeback attempt in a seven-point game in the final minute with an interception and return for 102 yards and a touchdown to emphatically seal Philadelphia’s revenge.
7. Eagles Overtake Giants as NFC East Powerhouse
Oct. 22, 2001- Eagles 10, Giants 9
The New York Giants handled the Eagles with ease in the late 1990s. They spoiled McNabb’s breakout season in 2000 with a regular-season sweep and a 20-10 victory in the NFC Divisional Round on their way to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXV. When the Giants came into Veterans Stadium in Week 6 of the 2001 season for a Monday Night Football matchup, they had won nine straight against their division foes.
The Eagles stole the torch and established themselves as the powerhouse of the NFC East. Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas, and Derrick Burgess sacked Kerry Collins in a 10-9 defensive struggle. They went on to win the division in four consecutive seasons, the last time any NFC East team repeated as a division champion.
6. GOOD! from 61 Yards
Sept. 24, 2017- Eagles 27, Giants 24
Question marks surrounded an imperfect roster during training camp in 2017, and the cornerbacks received as much doubt as any position group (unless you count the head coach). The fan base didn’t have supreme confidence in what turned out to be the most successful season in franchise history.
The 1-1 Eagles entered the fourth quarter of their Week 3 matchup with the Giants in front 14-0, but their suspect pass defense allowed Eli Manning to take over with 24 points in the final frame. Sterling Shepherd and Odell Beckham Jr. ran wild in a division slugfest, but unknown rookie Jake Elliott was able to even the score with a 46-yard field goal in the final minute of his second career NFL game.
Questionable clock management and a shanked punt surprisingly gave the Eagles a final possession, but it seemed wise for Doug Pederson to play it safe and take his chances in overtime. The 2017 Eagles didn’t operate cautiously.
Carson Wentz made one critical play in the final seconds and hit Alshon Jeffery for 19 yards on a sideline route that set up Elliott for a long shot with the pressure off. The exhilaration of the 61-yard stunner became the first major indication to Eagles fans that the football gods might’ve finally decided it was Philadelphia’s year.
5. Donovan McNabb- Tough as Nails
Nov. 17, 2002- Eagles 38, Cardinals 14
McNabb played his way to the honor as the best quarterback in franchise history in 11 seasons in Philadelphia, but he never reached the beloved status that many people would’ve liked. Some fans said he never became the type of clutch performer who would fight to the death and do anything to win.
There’s at least one point in history when that simply wasn’t true. In Week 11 of the 2002 season, McNabb took an ugly fall to the turf at the Vet on the third play from scrimmage against the Arizona Cardinals. He didn’t leave the game. He didn’t want an x-ray to examine the injury because he almost certainly knew his ankle was broken.
He continued with a completely different playing style than fans were used to, abandoning his excellent scrambling ability and doing all the damage from the pocket. He finished 20/25 for 225 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-14 laugher. He then missed nearly two months with the injury after setting the Eagles up in good playoff position with a 7-3 record.
McNabb was never a perfect quarterback, a perfect teammate, or a perfect human being. For at least one day, he was the toughest player in the NFL.
4. Miracle at the Meadowlands III
Dec. 19, 2010- Eagles 38, Giants 31
By now, we all know the story of the most epic comeback in franchise history. In a December battle for the top spot in the NFC East, the Giants took a commanding 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter. The Eagles scored four touchdowns in the final eight minutes to steal one in front of a stunned New York crowd.
First, Michael Vick hit Brent Celek for a 65-yard touchdown. Next, David Akers executed an unexpected onside kick perfectly. The threat of Vick in the ground game changed the complexion of the game and sent the Giants defense back on their heels. Runs of 35, 33, and 22 in the fourth quarter ignited the charge.
Looking for redemption after a key fumble early in the fourth, DeSean Jackson lined up for a punt return with 14 seconds left in a tie game. He fumbled the initial catch but picked up the ball and took it 65 yards to seal the win with one of the most memorable plays in Eagles history.
3. Statement Win in Carolina for 2017 Eagles
Oct. 12, 2017- Eagles 28, Panthers 23
Most NFL analysts picked the 2017 Eagles to finish around the .500 mark, which seemed like a practical thought after training camp. Elliott’s shocking field goal in Week 3 spurred momentum, but not everyone on the outside was as confident in Philadelphia as Pederson and the underdogs were in themselves.
The Eagles took over sole possession of the top seed in the NFC with a victory over the 4-1 Carolina Panthers in Week 6. Questionable officiating and a short week of travel for a Thursday Night Football matchup brought some adversity, but Pederson’s unrelenting confidence continued to benefit the team when LaGarrette Blount capitalized on an aggressive two-point conversion attempt.
Nelson Agholor, public enemy number one during the 2016 season, scored his fourth touchdown of the 2017 season on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Philadelphia a commanding lead. The defensive front established dominance in the ground game by neutralizing Carolina’s running back trio. The blueprint worked for a fourth straight victory in a streak that would ultimately reach nine.
2. Miracle at the Meadowlands II
Oct. 19, 2003- Eagles 14, Giants 10
The losing energy from the shock of the NFC Championship Game loss after the 2002 season crept into the 2003 season. The Eagles opened Lincoln Financial Field with another loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They slipped to 2-3 with an ugly loss in Dallas in Week 6, setting up a pivotal matchup at Giants Stadium in Week 7.
McNabb failed to catapult a sputtering Eagles offense. He finished 9/23 for 64 yards and one interception. Hope looked lost with a late three-point deficit, but the defense came up with a crucial stop inside their own territory and forced a punt inside the two-minute warning. Luckily, McNabb and the offense didn’t have to take the field.
Brian Westbrook took a bouncing punt from Jeff Feagles and returned it 84 yards for the game-winning score. The second-year speedster breathed life into a team at a time when they desperately needed it with the most iconic play of his legendary career in Philadelphia. The victory began a nine-game winning streak, and the Eagles captured the top seed in the NFC.
1. Unthinkable Sequence Leads to 44-6 Beatdown
Dec. 28, 2008- Eagles 44, Cowboys 6
The 2008 season was a microcosm of Eagles fandom with a 5-3 start, ugly mishaps during the regular season, a tease for Super Bowl contention, and a loss in the NFC Championship Game. The wild inconsistency also set up the stage for the most memorable regular-season game since 2000.
The Eagles put themselves in a near impossible position with a Week 16 loss against Washington. They needed two teams with sub-.500 records to beat NFC Wild Card contenders just to have a chance at a playoff berth. A 67-yard fourth-quarter run by Michael Bush shockingly helped the 4-11 Oakland Raiders eliminate the heavily favored Buccaneers. The 7-8 Houston Texans followed suit by eliminating the Chicago Bears.
The shortcomings of the Tony Romo era in Dallas came to center stage. The Eagles defense crushed the rival signal-caller all afternoon in a virtual play-in game. They forced five turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns in a 44-6 bloodbath. Fans at the Linc relished in the narrative of another choke job for the hated Cowboys while the Eagles entered the postseason as the dangerous sleeper team nobody wanted to face.
Honorable Mentions 11-20: T.O.’s 3 TDs in Eagles debut in 2004, Beating Steelers to go 3-0 in 2016, Upsetting Patriots in Foxborough in 2015, Foles 7 TD in 2013, T.O.’s monster game against Cowboys on MNF in 2004, Foles beats Rams in 2018, Foles beats Texans in 2018, Brandon Boykin interception in 2013, “Monday Night Massacre” in 2010
What are your favorite memories from Eagles regular-season games since 2000?
Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/Icon Sportswire