Tuesday, December 28, 2010. This was the beginning of the downward spiral the Eagles (and pretty much all Philly sports teams) found themselves in over the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Eagles had won 6 of 7 and could potentially keep themselves in the hunt for the #2 seed in the NFC and a playoff bye with a win against Minnesota in Philly on Sunday Night Football. Also worth noting is that the Birds were coming off the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, which was fairly significant.
Then, Philadelphia got slammed by a blizzard and the game had to be postponed until Tuesday night. It would be the first NFL game played on a Tuesday night since the 40s and became notoriously known as “Tuesday Night Football” among Eagles fans. I sat there, with a group of my friends, on a Tuesday Night in December watching it all unravel before our eyes.
Friend, aspiring CPA, and occasional TNP Contributor RJ Carletti sent me the following message in regards to his memories of that night:
- We listened to a steady stream of Rick Ross from my house to Lincoln Financial Field viaPower 99′s nightly Cosmic Kev mixtape
- Most of the game is a blur
- The game started alright
- Mike Vick deteriorated into 2011-2012 form that night
- Joe Webb Looked how Michael Vick was supposed to look
- D Couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down
- Didn’t even consider the fact that we could lose the game until the 4th quarter
And that about sums it up. That’s how one of the NFL’s premier teams of the 2000s crumbled into a two year spin to the bottom of the NFL toilet. The Eagles would play a meaningless Week 17 game with the Cowboys after being locked into the NFC’s 3 seed with a loss and lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Packers in a game that silly mistakes and missed field goals ultimately cost them. That would also, unfortunately, be a sign of things to come. That was all that separated Joe Webb from the Vince Young/Dream Team/Nnamdi Eating Lunch In His Car/Nnamdi Eating Receivers’ Lunch On The Field/Ronnie Brown Goal-Line PassFumble/8-8/4-12 seasons.
Joe Webb. Can we think about that for a minute? I know it’s been talked about how JOE WEBB beat the Eagles that night, but I feel like we only connect that on a superficial, some-bad-quarterback level. Somehow, the Vikings had no better backup plan for Brett Favre than Joe Webb, who was supposed to play wide receiver at the NFL level (despite playing QB at UAB). Could you imagine if the Eagles were playing the Jaguars this coming Sunday, and Denard Robinson started at quarterback for them and beat the Eagles, sending their season into a tailspin? But could you, really? Honestly. Because that is essentially what happened. Joe Webb has since proven that he is not an NFL-caliber quarterback, as he managed to show the immense value Christian Ponder added to the Vikings offense by coughing up an all-time playoff hairball against the Packers last season after Ponder got hurt in Week 17.
The similarities between this Eagles/Vikings game Sunday and the fateful Tuesday Night disaster are eerie. Minnesota might need to rely on their backup QB (Joe Webb then, Matt Cassel now, with star running back Adrian Peterson banged up to boot). The Eagles are coming off of a massive, emotional win (Miracle at the New Meadowlands/Snow Bowl). The Eagles control their playoff destiny and the Vikings are floundering, playing out the string of a lost season. Leslie Frazier was coaching for his job then (to turn the interim head coach tag into a full-time job) and now he’s coaching to keep that job. On top of it all, Philadelphia once again just got slammed by a surprise snowstorm. One of the only differences is that they are playing this one in Minnesota, which is probably a good thing. If they played this in Philly and Matt Cassel and Toby Gerhart started slicing up the Eagles in South Philly–I wouldn’t blame any Eagles fan for not watching football ever again.
As much as these ideas are beaten into the ground in the mainstream sports media, I think a victory over Minnesota this weekend should be extremely important to Eagles fans on a symbolic level. You remember how miserable the last two years of Philly sports have been, right? Tuesday Night Football marked the beginning of that. What better way to mark the end than to beat the team that started it and clinch a winning record for Chip Kelly in his first year as head coach of the Eagles? The Eagles were never right after Tuesday Night Football. They haven’t had a chance to avenge that loss since, avoiding Minnesota on their schedule each of the last two seasons. If the Eagles win on Sunday they will be able to close the book on Tuesday Night Football and Joe Webb forever.
Steve Sabato runs The New Philadelphian. You can follow him @steve_sabato if these posts leave you wanting more.