Philadelphia Eagles To Play Biggest Game In Years


Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jaylen Watkins (37) at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles beat the Cowboys 33-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s matinee between the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks is the biggest single game for the Philadelphia football franchise since 2009.

And no, I don’t think I’m overselling it.

On a Sunday in 2009, the Eagles were playing at the Arizona Cardinals with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. It was really a last gasp of an era of success led by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb and it didn’t end well for the Birds. Yes, the Eagles made the playoffs in the next two seasons, but they never got that close to the big game again. McNabb was then gone. Reid a few years later. An era was over.

A new era might be beginning. Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles were a pleasant surprise. After a couple of down years to close out Andy Reid’s tenure, Chip Kelly came in and took a multi-year rebuilding project and got it done in eight weeks. Football was back and we loved every second of it. Even the Wild Card loss to the New Orleans Saints didn’t hurt that much. It was a joy just to be relevant again.

Well, those consolation prizes lose their luster pretty quickly. The Philadelphia Eagles are 9-3 and face the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field with a chance to do something special for the first time in a long time.

Back on Thanksgiving, the Eagles were projected by most of the national media folks to lose to their darling Dallas Cowboys. Dallas was on the rise and the Eagles time in the sun, well, that was a one-year blip. Time had passed them by.

With a 33-10 victory, one would think that could silence the critics and change the national narrative, but that hasn’t been the case. Dallas was tired, the Eagles somehow had an advantage by playing on the road in a short week, and now that Dallas beat the lowly Bears, well, see, that Eagle game was an aberration, right?

No, Philadelphia still doesn’t have respect.

Sunday afternoon against Seattle is about a lot of things. A win would just about sew up a division title and a first-round playoff bye, and it would give Kelly and the Birds the kind of respect they deserve. To be the best you have to beat the best. And until somebody else holds that Lombardi Trophy, the Seahawks are the best.

The lead up to this game reminds me so much of the 2001 Philadelphia Eagles’ season. A year earlier, Andy Reid and company stunned the NFL by winning 11 games and reaching the playoffs. At the time, it seemed like a stunning turnaround for a coach in just his second season of a rebuild (Kelly, like everything he does, was faster). But those Birds, despite winning a playoff game against an overmatched Tampa Bay squad, lost to the New York Giants, who went on to appear in the Super Bowl.

Coming off a bye week with a 2-2 record the following season, the Eagles were set for a Monday night showdown at the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. Not many gave them a chance and for three quarters they were right. The Eagles trailed, 9-3, until McNabb hit James Thrash for a touchdown with two minutes to go. The Birds hung on to win, 10-9, and went on to win 11 games and make their first of four straight trips to the NFC Championship game.

That game passed the baton in the NFC East, as the Eagles dominated divisional games for the next few seasons. While they never won a Super Bowl, they were a perennial contender, in the national conversation, and feared on Sundays.

This Sunday is the same opportunity for this group of Eagles. Win and they have arrived in the conversation of contenders. Lose and they remain a fringe team that’s a fun story.

Which story will we be telling Sunday night?