2008 Eagles should give Colts some hope
PHILADELPHIA >> Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles entered Week 17 of the 2008 season needing a post-Christmas miracle to have a chance at the playoffs.
Everything fell in place and the Eagles ended up in the NFC championship game.
That should, at the least, give Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts some hope Sunday. The Colts (7-8) still have a chance to win the AFC South if several things happen.
Indianapolis has to beat Tennessee (3-12). Houston (8-7) must lose to Jacksonville (5-10). And, Buffalo, Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Oakland and Pittsburgh have to win their games.
Seems daunting, especially considering five of the eight results outside Indy's control would be upsets.
But the Eagles needed a 13-point underdog (Raiders) to win on the road at Tampa Bay to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Oakland pulled it off.
After the Raiders beat the Buccaneers and the Texans beat the Bears in early games, the Eagles-Cowboys matchup became do-or-die for both teams before kickoff. The winner would get a wild-card berth and the loser would go home.
It ended up being a rout.
McNabb, Brian Dawkins and a ferocious defense destroyed Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and the Cowboys 44-6.
The Eagles then knocked off Minnesota and the Giants on the road to advance to their fifth conference title game in eight years. They even were road favorites at Arizona, but lost 32-25 to Kurt Warner and the Cardinals.
Here are other memorable regular-season finales since the 1970 merger:
GOING FOR PERFECTION: The Miami Dolphins beat the Baltimore Colts 16-0 at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 16, 1972 to complete a 14-0 season. Don Shula's team then defeated Cleveland and Pittsburgh before finishing a perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over Washington in the Super Bowl.
PERFECT SEASON II: Trying to clinch a 16-0 record in 2007, the Patriots overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half and rallied to beat the Giants 38-35 on the road. Both teams already were locked into playoff seeds, so it was one of the most meaningful games with no playoff ramifications in league history. New England won two playoff games, while the Giants went 3-0 on the road in the playoffs to set up a rematch in the Super Bowl. New York beat the Patriots to ruin their historic season.
SILENT GAME: The Jets beat the Dolphins 24-17 in 1980, but the score and teams were irrelevant. It was the first NFL game broadcast with no announcers. Host Bryant Gumbel introduced the game and returned several times to provide updates, but there were no play-by-play calls or analysis. NBC's stunt was met with wide-ranging negative fan reaction and it's never been done again.
LAMBEAU SHOOTOUT: Matt Flynn threw six touchdown passes and Matthew Stafford tossed five TDs in Green Bay's 45-41 win over Detroit to cap the 2011 season. Flynn started for Aaron Rodgers because the Packers were 14-1 and had already secured the No. 1 NFC seed. Despite the loss, the Lions ended a long playoff drought. It was the first time in NFL history opposing quarterbacks each threw for 400-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns in a game.
MILE HIGH SALUTE: Denver Broncos fans gave Jerry Rice a standing ovation when he played his final game with the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 23, 2000. The Broncos beat the 49ers 38-9 and Rice caught a 9-yard pass from Jeff Garcia for his final reception with the team he helped win three Super Bowls. Broncos fans chanted "Jerry! Jerry!" as he went to the locker room.
Rice played four more seasons in the NFL with Oakland and Seattle.
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