3. Come on. Eagles fans would have never forgiven an omission of ‘4th and 26’.
Well, you had to know that this was coming. The Eagles and Packers have seen their fair share of battles over the years, but games take on a different level of intrigue when played during the postseason, especially when those games are remembered by a few short words or phrases that are familiar to both of the participating parties.
Close your eyes and mention a few of the following: The Music City Miracle, The Drive, and The Comeback. Sure those were all fine and dandy, but in Eagles lore, none of those can hold a candle to ‘4th and 26’, and if you find yourself around Birds or Packers fans (or both) and if those words ever cross your lips, both sides of this extended rivalry know exactly what you’re talking about.
After falling behind by a 14-0 margin IN THE FIRST QUARTER during an NFC Divisional Game in 2004, the Eagles battled back, scoring 14 points to tie the game before a Ryan Longwell 21-yard field goal gave the lead back to Green Bay (17–14) late in the fourth quarter. There isn’t an Eagles fan in the Delaware Valley or anywhere else on Planet Earth that doesn’t know what happened next.
Philly’s final drive of regulation began with a 22-yard run by Duce Staley, but Donovan threw a pass on the next play that fell incomplete. On second down, Philly was penalized for a false start and moved five yards in the wrong direction. With the yard marker still reading second down, a sack pushed the Eagles back to their 26-yard line. McNabb’s third-down pass fell harmlessly to the turf. Philly, in a flash, needed 26 yards to move the chains and keep their dreams of winning alive.
Again, there isn’t an Eagles fan breathing that doesn’t know what happened. Here’s where the man with a million nicknames, Freddie Mitchell, enters our tale.
McNabb found Freddie Mitchell deep to pick up what looked like 26-and-one-half yards on fourth down. Eventually, they’d drive into field-goal range. David Akers would even the point tally at 17. A Brett Favre interception thrown to Brian Dawkins in overtime and Weapon X’s return helped set up another field goal by Akers. This one would serve as the game-winner.
‘4th and 26’ is sometimes overlooked because the Eagles didn’t ‘seal the deal’. Their season ended one week later with an NFC Championship Game loss to the Carolina Panthers. Had it not and had Philly won the Super Bowl, this might have turned out to be one of the most iconic plays in league history, but as it stands, this is still one of the greatest moments in Eagles lore and one of the most memorable moments of the Eagles-Packers series.
It does, however, pale in comparison to two other moments, one we look upon favorably. The other… not so much.