GLENDALE, AZ – In 2008, and into 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles overcame a lot to even advance to this point.
But, resilient though they were, a strong second half wasn't enough. As such, the Eagles dropped Sunday's NFC Championship Game, 32-25, to the host Arizona Cardinals in a heartbreaking fashion.
It's the fourth loss in five conference title games for head coach Andy Reid, and he said they don't get easier.
"This year is different from others. They're all different," Reid said. "We've been over the hump and into the Super Bowl, if this is what you consider 'the hump.' We didn't do it this time." Photo Gallery : PHI vs. ARZ 1-18-09
The Eagles finally scored touchdowns with the opportunities given to them, after which they exploded for 19 unanswered points to open the second half, taking an improbable 25-24 lead with 11 minutes left to play in the game. But the errors the offense made in the first half eventually came back to haunt the Eagles. The Eagles drove three times into Arizona territory in the first half, and left with six points. During the same span, the Cardinals drove into Eagles territory four times, and came out with 24 points.
In short, when matched up against one of the most potent offenses in football, field goals and punts won't do the trick.
And for the Eagles, that cost them a trip to Super Bowl XLIII.
"You never want anything to end, especially the way things have kind of went for us," McNabb said. "To end it this way, it's tough."
That's not to undermine the incredible success quarterback Donovan McNabb and company had in the second half. The Eagles scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives, roaring back to stun the hometown crowd. The third, a 62-yard bomb that DeSean Jackson came down with after cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie tipped it, seemed like it could have been a dagger to the Cardinals.
But all Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner needed was one drive in the second half. He got it – a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown romp that left McNabb and the Eagles with just under three minutes to cover 80 yards.
The Eagles, down a touchdown, stalled at the Arizona 47 with four incomplete passes, the last of which intended for Kevin Curtis, who looked like he might have been interfered with ("All I know is my guy went down," McNabb said). But no flag was thrown, and the Eagles' miracle run ended.
McNabb finished 28-for-47 with 375 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. His rating of 97.4 marks his highest-rated postseason game that the Eagles didn't win.
But three touchdowns, it would turn out, weren't enough.
"We still had a chance on fourth down," McNabb said. "We felt that we had that opportunity. (The drive) was working for us. We just were not able to pull through."