Being a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles isn't always easy. The toughest part of all is the fact that it's been ages since the franchise last finished better than the rest. Over the years dust has slowly been collecting on those Eagles NFL championships from 1948, 1949, and the most recent one from 1960. The Super Bowl era has been unkind thus far to the Eagles in their quest for title glory. That's something many rival fans (especially in the NFC East, obviously) are quick to point out with unoriginal and unfunny (but true) jokes.
But as the modern football version of Shakespeare may have suggested, it is better that the Eagles made it close and lost than to never have made it at all. And the Eagles certainly have been close. Looking back through the missed opportunities though, I wonder, which Eagles team was the closest to winning it all? Let's take a look at some of the top candidates.
Super Bowl appearances
The obvious place to start. The Eagles went to the Super Bowl twice in franchise history: once in 1980 and most recently in 2004.
The 1980 team lost to the Oakland Raiders by a score of 27-10. Eagles QB Ron Jaworski (1 TD, 3 INT, 18/38 for 291 yards) was thoroughly outplayed by Oakland's Jim Plunkett (3 TD, 0 INT, 13/21 for 261 yards). The Eagles were down as much as 24-3 by the third quarter. It's hard to say the Eagles were close here despite making the big game.
The 2004 team probably would have went 15-1 in the regular season if not for Andy Reid choosing to rest starters in the final two weeks of the reason. They were really good. The only thing that could stop WR Terrell Owens was an injury, and T.O. even played well through that during the SB. Once again the Eagles came up short in the big game due to turnovers; QB Donovan McNabb threw three interceptions. The game was much closer than their first SB appearance with only three points being the deciding factor in the 24-21 loss. It's easy to think that this was the team that could and should have won it all.
NFC Championship Games
Prior to making the Super Bowl in 2004, the Eagles appeared in the NFC Championship Game for three consecutive years (2001, 2002, 2003) and lost each time. The loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was probably the most painful. The one where the Eagles felt closing to winning the Super Bowl, however, was the 2008 team that lost to the Arizona Cardinals. It was such a strange season for the Eagles in that they needed a number of things to go right and then win a Week 17 finale against the Dallas Cowboys just to make it into the playoffs. The Eagles defied the odds and seemed almost destined for a Super Bowl appearance before the Cards just edged Philadelphia out in a game that was much closer than the 32-25 final score indicated.
I can't really think of any that I missed, but if I did, let me know. The Eagles 28-21 loss in the 1947 championship game is probably worth mentioning at least.
As I alluded to above, I'd pick the 2004 team as the best to not win. By strict definition alone, they were only 4 points away from a win.
What say you? Which team was the best to fall short in Philadelphia Eagles history?