The Eagles open the season against the Rams this Sunday. Michael Vick, who was making license plates a couple of years ago, will be leading the Eagles against young, promising upstart Sam Bradford. It’s interesting to note that just less than 10 years ago, these two teams met in St. Louis with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kurt Warner, who had been bagging groceries a couple of years before was matched up against the promising young star of the Eagles, Donovan McNabb. Eagles fans were ecstatic to be in the NFC Championship game, their first one since 1980.
But the Eagles defense was no match for Rams superstar Marshall Faulk. He ran for 159 yards and scored two TDs. Of course, that was no knock on an excellent Eagles defense, which had given up 64 points in 8 regular season road games that year, something no team had done since 1942. Faulk was unstoppable at that point in his career, having gained over 2,100 yards from scrimmage that season and having scored 21 TDs, despite missing two games with injury.
The Eagles had no such stars in their backfield, with Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley combining to rush for almost 1200 yards. But they had a tremendous defense, led by stars Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter, and wins over the Buccaneers and the bears had gotten them to the NFC championship game. The Birds led, 17-13 at halftime, but the Rams proved to be too much in the 2nd half, and went on to win 29-24. At the time, Eagles fans knew that the better team had won, but were excited by this Eagles team that had all the parts in place to make numerous runs at a title in the future. The Birds would indeed make numerous runs, being a very good team at a time when the NFC was rather pitiful, but they couldn’t get over the top. The Rams game is now held up as an example of their futility, instead of being the moment the Eagles showed the world that they would be a contender for the next decade. Here is a recap of that game on CNNSI.
You can find the box score here. The most interesting thing about the box score to me is the names on the starting lineup, none of whom is currently on the team but many of whom have a place in Eagle lore. Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas, Chad Lewis, and of course McNabb. The last link to that team was dropped a few months ago when the Eagles let David Akers go. The Rams have no players left from their 2001-2002 roster, either. There will however be two former member of that 2001 Eagles team playing for the Rams this Sunday. Can you name them?