A year ago, the Eagles were coming off a forgettable three-game stretch that included a pair of losses and a tie. Fortunately, Donovan McNabb rallied the troops and the Eagles rattled off three straight wins to remain very much in the playoff picture.
But after scoring 48, 20 and 30 points in wins over the Cardinals, Giants and Browns, Philadelphia was flat in a 10-3 loss at Washington on Dec. 21, a game in which the Eagles called 50 pass plays and 14 running plays.
Who could forget Reggie Brown's 17-yard reception with four seconds left, which came just an inch short of the goal line. And without a timeout to spare, the clock ran out on the Eagles and seemingly their chances to make the playoffs.
Of course, we all remember how the right cards fell around them on the final weekend of the regular season to produce a dream scenario.
|WR Reggie Brown was stopped inches short of the end zone in final seconds in 2008|
Flash forward 11 months and here we are counting down the days to the latest installment of this storied rivalry that dates back to 1934.
The Eagles snapped a two-game skid Sunday night in Chicago and are positioned for a run at their first NFC East title in three years. But they first must handle their business against an injury-riddled Redskins teams that has won just three games this season. However, Washington has had the Eagles' number on the road of late, winning three of the last four contests at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia last swept the season series in 2006.
Donovan McNabb and Quintin Mikell delivered on their "must-win" declarations in Chicago Sunday night. That same urgency must carry over into Sunday afternoon or else the win over the Bears will be for naught.
"Last year was last year," Mikell said. "I think what happened last year by us even getting into the playoffs was a miracle. We don't really want to count on miracles too much, at least that's the way I feel, and I'm sure a lot of the guys in the locker room feel the same way. We have to win these games."
In the previous meeting between the teams late last month, the Eagles used big plays on both offense and defense en route to a 27-17 win. However, the Eagles did not control the line of scrimmage against Washington's good front four and the offense sputtered. Washington actually outgained Philadelphia in net yards by a count of 308 to 262. The Eagles were also penalized 12 times for 66 yards.
"I think once we stop getting in our own way we should do some good things around here, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot," Mikell said. "That happens with a young team. We just have to work through those things."
In two of the last four seasons, the Eagles have needed a late-season surge to make it into the postseason. In 2006, Jeff Garcia helped right the ship and guide the Eagles to an NFC East title. Last season, a 44-6 dismantling of Dallas in the season's final week wrapped up the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoffs.
Bottom line: For all the ups and downs the Eagles have endured over the last few seasons, they seem to find a way out of it.
"I think this team likes to have our back against the wall for some reason. I guess we like to make it hard on ourselves," said defensive end Darren Howard. "I would like to think that our experience last year - where we barely made it to the playoffs and only because someone else lost -- should serve as a lesson to take care of business during the season more.
"There's a lot of teams in the mix right now. We're one of them."
A win over Washington Sunday will keep the Eagles very much in the mix in the NFC.