Is Donovan McNabb a clutch quarterback?
That question surfaced after McNabb's pass intended for Kevin Curtis fell incomplete to seal the Eagles' fate in the NFC Championship Game. Down 32-25, McNabb guided the Eagles to the Cardinals' 47-yard line before throwing the drive ended. The question resurfaced after Ben Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers to the win in Super Bowl XLIII with his touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just 35 ticks remaining on the clock.
Since 2000, the Eagles were tied or behind in the fourth quarter and emerged victorious with McNabb's help on 15 different occasions including playoffs.
In the NFC title tilt, McNabb did help bring the Eagles back from a 24-6 halftime deficit to take a one-point fourth quarter lead before the Cardinals answered back. McNabb finished with a playoff-career-high 375 passing yards to go along with three touchdowns and an interception.
It wasn't the first time that McNabb led the Eagles to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter before losing. It happened in Week 2 at Dallas as the Eagles took a 37-31 lead on a 1-yard Brian Westbrook touchdown run before losing by four.
The Eagles did come from behind to win in the fourth quarter once this season, in the 40-26 win at San Francisco. The Eagles trailed 26-17 before scoring the game's final 23 points. In the playoffs, the Eagles held a two-point lead in the fourth quarter against both the Vikings and the Giants before getting some insurance points to seal the win.
It just so happens that when the Eagles win, they win big. The Eagles take care of business before it gets to the closing moments. The Eagles were 10-1 this year, including playoffs, in games decided by more than one possession.
Even in pressure cooker moments, McNabb more than held his own during the regular season. He ranked eighth in the league in third-down passing with a 96.4 QB rating. In the fourth quarter of regular season games, McNabb owned a 93.2 QB rating as he threw six touchdowns against zero interceptions. Only one other starting quarterback didn't throw a pick in the game's final 15 minutes - Tennessee's Kerry Collins.
While McNabb has not won a Super Bowl like Roethlisberger or Warner, he has come through for the Eagles in the postseason. In the 2003 Divisional Playoff game against Green Bay, McNabb and the Eagles overcame a 14-0 first quarter and utilized an 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it to overtime. Of course, that game included the memorable fourth-and-26 play where McNabb's pass to Freddie Mitchell kept the season alive. In overtime, McNabb got the Eagles close enough for David Akers to win the game with a 31-yard field goal.
So, the question remains. Is McNabb a clutch quarterback? It's pretty hard to argue otherwise when McNabb is not just the winningest quarterback in franchise history while holding the third-best winning percentage among active quarterbacks with 100-or-more starts.
Oct. 12, 2008 at San Francisco - Down 26-17 with 14:42 left, Eagles score on four straight possession to take 30-26 lead. Win 40-26
Nov. 11, 2007 at Washington - Down 22-13 with 12:36 left, two McNabb TD passes put Eagles up as they win 33-25
Oct. 8, 2006 vs. Dallas - Tied at 24-24 with 11:14 left, McNabb's 40-yard TD pass to Reggie Brown puts Eagles ahead. Eagles win 38-24
Sept. 25, 2005 vs. Oakland - Tied 20-20 with 2:17 left, McNabb leads Eagles on 11-play, 75-yard drive as David Akers' field goal wins it 23-20
Dec. 19, 2004 vs. Dallas - Down 7-6 with 6:03 left, McNabb leads Eagles on 9-play, 64-yard drive as Dorsey Levens' TD wins it 12-7
Oct. 24, 2004 at Cleveland - Forty-six-yard drive in culminates in David Akers' 50-yard game-winning field goal, Eagles take it 20-17
Jan. 11, 2004 vs. Green Bay - Fourth-and-26 play highlights 20-17 overtime in Divisional Round
Nov. 10, 2003 vs. Green Bay - McNabb led Eagles on not one, but two go-ahead drives in fourth quarter. Eagles win 17-14
Oct. 26, 2003 vs. Jets - Down 17-14 with 10:43 left, McNabb's TD pass to Jon Ritchie put Eagles ahead for good in 24-17 win
Nov. 3, 2002 at Chicago - Tied at 13-13, McNabb led Eagles on two field goal drives to win by six
Dec. 30, 2001 vs. Giants - Down 21-14 with 2:43 left, McNabb TD pass to Chad Lewis tied game before 54-yard drive led to game-winning field goal. Eagles win 24-21
Oct. 22, 2001 at Giants - McNabb's 18-yard TD pass to James Thrash with 1:52 left stunned Giants on Monday night. Eagles win 10-9
Nov. 26, 2000 at Washington - Tied at 20-20, McNabb led Eagles on 49-yard drive to set up David Akers for field goal. Eagles win 23-20
Nov. 12, 2000 at Pittsburgh - Down 23-13 with 3:47 left, Eagles score final 16 points to win 26-23 in OT
Nov. 5, 2000 vs. Dallas -Down 13-10 with 1:55 left, Eagles score field goal in regulation and in OT to win 16-13