SUPER BOWL MEMORIES: THE T.O. SHOW
by Ryan Law | Wayniac Nation Contributor
The Wayniac has been posting some great Super Bowl moments leading up to the big game on Sunday, so when he asked for me to write about my most memorable moment, I shuddered at the idea. Why? My moment is excrutiating to think about. My moment haunts me and every other Eagles fan to this day. My moment had everyone baffled, including the opposition. My moment happened on February 5th, 2005. My moment followed 2 weeks after the Eagles finally — FINALLY — overcame the reputation of being known as the poor man’s Buffalo Bills of the early 90s by making it beyond the NFC Championship game. My moment is the last 5 minutes and 40 seconds of Super Bowl XXXIX…Eagles vs Patriots.
I was hanging out with my buddy Nate a couple of weeks ago. He lives in South Carolina and we don’t get to see each other much these days, so our families spent most of the night talking about our lives, how the kids were doing, revisiting past memories, just having a good time. I remember the Chiefs and Patriots Divisional Playoff game was on in the background but by no means was the center of attention. And then it happened.
The Chiefs were down 27-13 with 6:29 left in the game. I remember Nate and I were sitting by the TV talking about our jobs and how things were going until we both looked up and started remarking on how much time the Chiefs were wasting during their drive.
We both went dead silent. With every 5-yard screen pass… with every ticking second… with every huddle between plays, Nate and I were having the same emotional response we experienced almost 11 years prior. Silence turned to anger for me. I started screaming at the TV like some lifelong Chiefs fan. “What are they doing? Don’t they know they are down two scores? They have three timeouts…call a timeout Andy because you actually have them. He isn’t calling a timeout Nate? THEY ARE HUDDLING!!!!!!!! THEY ARE FREAKING HUDDLING NATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
We all know how that ended. The Chiefs scored with about 70 seconds to go, went for the onside kick and the Patriots recovered. Then we heard the now infamous, “we didn’t want to give Tom Brady the ball” excuse. This hits home because the Chiefs Offensive Coordinator that day was Doug Pederson, who just happens to be the newly appointed head coach for my Philadelphia Eagles.
His introductory press conference was a lesson straight from Philly media 101.
“How was the flight Doug?” –Good. “What the hell happened in that last drive against the Patriots Doug?”
I know the Philly media is one of the toughest out there, but this had historical relevance. An Andy Reid guy gets hired after botching the last seven minutes of a playoff game against the Patriots by taking too long down two scores. All too familiar. (*Side note: My buddy Jim sent out a text saying that the Chiefs scoring drive was the second longest drive resulting in a touchdown in the last 10 minutes of the game. 5 minutes and 16 seconds . Amazing. (**side note to the side note: I couldn’t’ find the text and was too lazy to look it up so there is a 60% chance I completely screwed that stat up.)
Back to my Super Bowl memory. My first memory is that the Eagles were hanging tough against the Patriots who were defending champs and 7-point favorites. Terrell Owens was playing his first game since breaking his leg after being the victim of the last legal horse collar tackle in NFL history against the Cowboys two months earlier. He wasn’t even supposed to be running, let alone playing in the Super Bowl and the guy was going off! It was amazing to watch. Owens left that game with the heart of all Eagles fans. He had everyone in the palm of his hand. It still kills me how that whole thing got ruined.
Another memory is the first half turnovers. The game was tied 7-7 at half, but the Eagles should have been up at least 17-7. The defense was stopping Brady every possession (save the last one). McNabb threw his first red zone INT of the season AND LJ Smith (one of my least favorite Eagles all time) fumbled a ball at the Pats 38 to squander another great scoring opportunity.
I do know I was very optimistic going into the 2nd half. Then the Deion Branch show began. It was mindboggling. This guy was catching everything. What is it about the hoodie that gives Bill this power to create something great out of nothing? He also has this uncanny ability to get players past their primes to play huge again.
Enter Corey Dillon. Both guys made huge plays while the Eagles did nothing in the first 18 minutes of the second half. Next thing I knew the Eagles were down 24-14 with 8:43 to go. Plenty of time. But McNabb threw another pick inside Pats territory and time was starting to become an issue. The defense showed up huge and with 5:40 left in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles started their comeback bid.
This is where things start to get crazy…and my memory most vivid. There was only 5:40 left and the Eagles are down two scores, yet not one hurry up play was called. The Eagles not only huddled every play, they HUDDLED. Each huddle seemed to claim 25 to 30 seconds off the clock. McNabb seemed methodical in his lack of urgency.
It was INFURIATING!
My buddy Maurer had a party and everyone was screaming at the TV. “HURRY UP!” “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!” “WHY ARE THEY HUDDLING!?” “DID MCNABB JUST THROW UP?!” Ok, I made up that last one. No one said that during the game. It wasn’t until after the game that the news came out that McNabb was having some sort of panic attack and dry heaving all over the place.
Right after the two minute warning, McNabb threw a perfect pass to Greg Lewis for a 30-yard touchdown. The drive ended with a great throw. It ended with a great catch. It ended two minutes after it should have. 79 yards on 13 plays taking 3 minutes and 52 seconds. There was 1:48 on the clock when that drive was over.
The onside kick failed and after three run plays by the Patriots sucked away every timeout, the Eagles had the ball back on their own 4-yard line with 46 seconds left and no timeouts. Three plays later McNabb threw his third interception (he threw eight all year) and the game was over.
The media went nuts in the aftermath after fatty Hank Fraley and Terrell Owens started criticizing McNabb for literally choking in the final minutes of the biggest game of their lives. Terrell played his heart out, but so did McNabb. 357 yards and 3 TDs is a really good effort in my mind. Costly turnovers and terrible clock management in the 4th quarter (something that continues to plague Reid to this day) is what killed the Eagles that day.
That and the fact that the Patriots taped their practices and stole their signals.