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Just Too Many Mistakes: Memories Of Super Bowl XXXIX


This isn't the first meeting between the Eagles and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The 2004 NFL season concluded with the Eagles coming out on the short end of a 24-21 decision against the Patriots. Here's some memories from Super Bowl XXXIX.

Sheldon Brown, Cornerback

"It was probably a little more than I thought it would be. It was definitely a business trip. I would say especially the day we had the media. That was pretty interesting sitting down and watching them pile into that stadium in Jacksonville."

Brian Dawkins, Safety

"The whole year leading up to it, losing so much in the previous years, to finally get a chance to win it ... To beat Atlanta (in the NFC Championship Game) to get to the Super Bowl was a huge experience, a huge accomplishment, something I'll never forget. I think once you got there, one of the bad things about just doing it one time is you take things a little far too serious. Not really enjoying some of the things that you could enjoy. Looking back at it."

Hugh Douglas, Defensive End

"I knew going into that season that Donovan (McNabb) was on fire and the defense was playing well. It just felt good to be back in the City of Philadelphia. You just knew going into every game that you were going to win. You just didn't know by how much.

"And to get to that game and lose by three points, that hurt. But in a nutshell, being that that was my last year in the NFL, I wouldn't trade that for anything. Because you work hard and you go through all those Training Camps and everything, and to be on that field on Super Bowl Sunday, one of the only two teams playing, that's a feeling that I wouldn't trade for the world.

"When you look back in the history of the NFL, there are a lot of great players that have come through, but not a whole lot of them that played in the Super Bowl."

Hank Fraley, Center

"I think we attacked that whole Super Bowl as this is just another game. And I thought we were prepared fine for the game. It was two great teams. I can say I've never actually watched the full game. I've seen cut-ups and highlights. It's still disappointing today. Greg Lewis is always telling me, 'You just need to watch it.'

"But it does hurt that we lost. I know we prepared. It was a good game, two great teams going at it. It didn't hit me that we were in the Super Bowl truly until that opening kickoff when you see all the cameras flash. Just the approach to the ball by the kicker and the cameras nuts, that's when you go, 'All right, we're in the Super Bowl now. Everybody's watching.'

"I still remember just running out and I haven't had chills like that since my first snap (as a starter in 2001) with McNabb against the Rams and me and him fumbled the first play. My first start ever. Fumbling the ball. That was the first time I ever got goose bumps and chills in a long time. But after the first play, it was just a normal game."

Jermane Mayberry, Guard

"The Super Bowl, at that point in my career, I'd been through a lot and knew about the business side of the game, but actually, that night playing in the game, it felt like being a kid again. I mean it felt like just being in the backyard, it was so much fun. With all the hype that came with the game and all the excitement, it was just fun. It was pure fun. It was probably the most fun I had, even though we lost, in a game."

Quintin Mikell, Safety

"I'll never forget being on the field for the first kick. I was on special teams on the kickoff return, and I just remember that first kick and seeing all the cameras flash. I'd never seen anything like that.

"That year, it was just awesome. Even though I wasn't starting and I was playing special teams. T.O. (Terrell Owens) was incredible, Donovan was incredible, the defense was incredible. It actually felt like we were playing back in Pop Warner. This is the NFL, but we were blowing everybody out by so many points to where it was like, man, this is easy.

"Little did we know that was the last time I'd get a chance to be there. At that time, being a young guy, man, this is easy. We can do this every year. Of course, the next year we had the big blow up, and we never got back to the Super Bowl again."

Ike Reese, Linebacker

"It was everything that I expected it would be. Except for the weather. When I grew up watching it, it was typically in San Diego, Miami, or New Orleans. Somewhere where the weather was good. In Jacksonville, the weather didn't really cooperate with us. A little cold, a little rainy.

"But everything else, the hoopla surrounding it, the pageantry surrounding it, the fans being at the hotel, which was the biggest thing for me. I still have all of that stuff on camera. Getting off the bus from the airport and into our hotel, there were fans lined on both sides at least five or six deep. It had to be a couple thousand fans in that hotel when we came in. It was loud. It was everything I thought it would be. The game, the opening kickoff, the lights, it was everything we had dreamed of. Except for the ending, obviously.

"But the game and leading up to the game, it was a wonderful experience and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it because it was different for me. It was my last year as an Eagle, and I sort of knew it was going to be my last year as an Eagle. So I made sure I soaked in a lot of that stuff in being around my teammates for what would be my final game in midnight green."

Jon Runyan, Tackle

"Both of the Super Bowls I played in, I probably was dealing with two of the worst injuries I had in my career (Runyan had a second-degree MCL sprain in his knee). So that didn't make them any easier. I think the second time around it was a little easier as you knew what to expect with the week, but it was also more frustrating.

"By the time you hit Wednesday or Thursday, you're just ready to play the game and get the circus around you over with. It is all about the hype of the game at the end of the day, but all you're there to do is execute on gameday. That's the battle you have day in and day out throughout even the regular season, the distractions. And there you are in the biggest game of your career with piles and piles of them all around you every day.

"We just didn't capitalize on the opportunities. If you look back at that game, we had the opportunity to be up 21-0 by halftime. You do something like that, you want to talk about changing the dynamic of a game, changing somebody's game plan, it was there. It was just a matter of not being able to execute. It was frustrating and ultimately what it was was turnovers in the red zone. If you do that kind of stuff, statistically, you don't have a chance to win that game."

Lito Sheppard, Cornerback

"We knew that Jacksonville was hosting the Super Bowl that year and so many guys off our team were from there, it was just going to be a very special moment to have a chance to play in the Super Bowl and let alone be in your hometown. Just to have that opportunity was awesome. We had a lot of fans there, but we ran into the New England Patriots. That was a tough team and you've got to tip your hat off to them, but they definitely ruined our sweet homecoming."

Corey Simon, Defensive Tackle

"I didn't come with any preconceived notions because once you start thinking about what it would be like, the nerves started to creep in. So, I just took it for what it was. It was a tremendous opportunity to go and do something that the city had never seen, and that's trying to win a Super Bowl.

"We came up a little bit short, but just the atmosphere of standing out there and waiting for the game to start, I think that part was a little bit exhausting. Just all the time that it took between the time that you warmed up and the actual kickoff of the game, trying not to shoot your emotional wad during those warm-ups and come out there and still have enough in the tank to go out there and play well for four quarters."

Mark Simoneau, Linebacker

"You don't really know what to expect. Coming from college where you play in bowl games, that's the only thing you can kind of base anything off of and that's not anything compared to the Super Bowl.

"There's a lot of media attention, but when you're there for your week of preparation, it can be pretty quiet. But as you get closer to the game it really builds. And as a player, you're just thinking through your whole career, your whole life of playing the game, and that this is something that every little kid dreams about. This is going to be your opportunity to do that. So going into it, it's a special time and you're just trying to take it all in and get ready and to play your best game."

Jeremiah Trotter, Linebacker

"I expected so much more. I think one of the best games I ever played in was that NFC Championship Game against Atlanta. Because when you're at home and you're trying to get over that hump, you have true fans. That was one of the coldest games I ever played in and I look in the stands and I see Eagles fans with their shirts off. I was like, 'Man, these guys are crazy!'

"You go to the Super Bowl and the crowd wasn't as crazy. Not even close. Obviously, it's the Super Bowl, so there's a lot of hype. You have two whole weeks before you play, so you know your opponent in and out. There's nothing really you haven't covered.

"I believe we were at least 10, 12 (points), two touchdowns better than New England that year. And I'm pretty sure across the board people would agree with that. But we had four turnovers! We had four turnovers and lost by only three points.

"You can't have turnovers against a Bill Belichick and expect to win. I mean, you're talking about probably one of the greatest coaches of our time. You know Bill Belichick will make you pay for having four turnovers. So that's the bottom line. You can't turn the ball over and win no matter what game you're playing in."

Darwin Walker, Defensive Tackle

"I still treasure that win (over Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game). And even though we didn't win the Super Bowl, to have the opportunity to make the trip and play in a close game (against New England) was an experience that I'll never, ever forget for the rest of my life."

Brian Westbrook, Running Back

"I think it was kind of exactly what I expected it to be. I expected it to be a lot of media and it was. I expected it to be a long week in an unfamiliar city and it was. But it was a great experience. And it was one that I wouldn't trade for anything. Of course, you wish that you'd gone down there and won the football game, but I think I would rather go through that experience and lose than to not go through that experience at all.

"We ended up losing by three points to a very good football team, but we just had too many turnovers. And when you're playing a good team, a Bill Belichick-coached team, a Tom Brady-quarterbacked team, you can't have turnovers because they will capitalize on it."

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