A long, long time ago in 2004, the sports gaming world welcomed a classic.
ESPN NFL 2K5 was released, and football gaming fans have cherished the game for well over a decade. From the cool game modes like First-Person Football that allowed you to view the game from a player’s helmet to the ability to get a phone call from Carmen Electra challenging you to play against her in football, the gameplay, announcing, and ESPN integration made this a complete video game.
One of my favorite game modes was ESPN’s 25th Anniversary. To celebrate, ESPN took 25 scenarios from classic games and turned them into replayable levels so that we could have both a challenge and learn some NFL history in the process.
I decided to play all 25 levels and try to defeat them all without cheating to analyze how difficult each one is. My esteemed colleagues have also decided to chip in with their personal recollections of each game. We also talked with fans about what the classic football moments meant to them.
So for the younger crowd, sit back and learn some NFL history, and for those who do remember these games, feel free to comment on your personal experiences!
Classic name: The Ice Bowl
Teams: Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
Play as: Packers
Luckily, you get to replay one of the coldest football games ever from the comfort of your humble abode. You have a lot of time to complete the drive and win the game. You shouldn't be in a rush to finish this one.
Go to any neighborhood Wisconsin bar on a Sunday, and you’ll find at least one old man or woman, body pickled by decades of Korbel brandy, who will bring up the Ice Bowl without provocation during that week’s Packers game. Few games hold the combination of Green Bay victory and hometown pride over the elements like this 50-year-old win against the Cowboys.
When you listen to the stories, you’ll assume some of the details have been exaggerated (“It was 35 below! Tom Landry’s thumb snapped off!”), but you can’t really know for sure. - Christian D’Andrea, SB Nation
I saw it live in living color on CBS. I can't remember much at all about the Ice Bowl, except the way it ended with the Cowboys' defenders slipping on the frozen surface as the Packers scored the winning points. But I do very clearly remember what it meant to Cowboys fans. Although they didn't win the game, getting there was sort of a coming out, and taking Green Bay to the end of the game proved that this expansion team from Texas belonged with the original franchises.
Don't forget: This was just four years after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, and the city and region were still recovering from the stigma of that horrific day. For many, this was a turning point, not just for a young sports franchise, but for the self respect of a whole city. It was just one of many steps in recovering, but it was an important one. And it was the beginning of the Landry run of playoff success. On that day, in truth, the Dallas Cowboys came of age, even in a loss. - Tom Ryle, Blogging the Boys.
I watched it, but that is so long ago the only thing I remember is what has been shown on replays over the years! Sneaking in on fourth-and-1 having failed three times and with the game on the line was a gutsy call by Vince Lombardi and a heartbreaker for Bob Lilly and the Dallas Cowboys. Can't win the big one was the slogan that attached to the team until they destroyed Miami in Super Bowl V, when Lilly finally got to smoke his victory cigar.
I always know how long I've been following the Cowboys, because it started with those first two Super Bowl years and the NFL Championship showdowns with Green Bay. That rivalry is still going strong. - VAfan, Dallas Cowboys fan
Classic name: The Heidi Bowl
Teams: Jets @ Raiders
Play as: Raiders
You have a choice to either tie with the field goal or go for the win. It's your choice. This level isn’t hard, but it isn’t a walk in the park either. If you play your cards right, you won’t have any trouble completing this level.
Just a few weeks later, these teams played another classic as the Jets got revenge in the AFL Championship Game. That game also was not shown live in New York. It’s amazing how much great football local fans didn’t see between these teams in 1968. - John Butchko, Gang Green Nation
Classic name: Merry Christmas Miami
Teams: Dolphins @ Chiefs
Play as: Dolphins
You start off receiving the ball with a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. You should have no trouble winning this game. You can do this.
If you tie and go to OT it's sudden death and not the new Iftheykickafieldgoaltheotherteamhasachancetokickthefieldgoal rule.
Ed Podolak’s 350 all-purpose yards, which was a postseason record, was all for naught. It’s incredible this game still stands all these years later as the longest game in NFL history. -Joel Thorman, Arrowhead Pride
Classic name: The Immaculate Reception
Teams: Raiders vs. Steelers
Play as: Steelers
Difficulty: Super Difficult
This is truly a miracle when you think about it. You have no timeouts and 22 seconds to get in either field goal range or score a touchdown. You have Terry Bradshaw running things and solid receivers on both sides, so you're not completely out of luck. But you're going to have to be smart about how you do this or you will be here for a while.
If you are lucky enough to make it into field goal range, keep calm; don’t let the wind distract you and make the field goal.
I said MAKE the field goal.
In Pittsburgh’s first-ever playoff victory, it took every second for the game to get the job done. In what has become the greatest, and possibly most famous, play in NFL history, there is a reason Franco Harris has a statue of this play at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Everyone remembers Bradshaw scrambling, throwing over the middle, the debate of Frenchy Fuqua potentially making first contact with the pass, and as the ball careened to Harris, the rest is history. - Jeff Hartman, Behind the Steel Curtain
Classic name: The Sea of Hands
Teams: Dolphins @ Raiders
Play as: Raiders
You have no timeouts left, but you do start inside the Dolphins 10-yard line and have the full playlist at your disposal. You'll be fine; this isn't that hard of a level.
Score the TD, then do your dance.
Classic name: The Final Comeback
Teams: Washington @ Cowboys
Play as: Cowboys
Difficulty: Hard, but not impossible
This one is difficult because of the time restraint, but you have a QB with a rocket arm and some WEAPONS.
If you score quick enough then you don't have to use an onside kick. You have a fast punt returner that can make some plays. The second drive is less stressful in my opinion because you know that you only have to score one more time.
After Washington had demolished the Cowboys a month earlier, this was the sweetest revenge for Cowboys fans. We won the NFC East and helped knock them out of the playoffs. Unbridled joy! Bonus satisfaction as Harvey Martin threw a funeral wreath into Washington’s locker room after the game, a wreath that had been sent to the Cowboys facility earlier in the week, supposedly from a Washington backer. - Dave Halprin, Blogging the Boys
Classic name: The Aints Biggest Choke
Teams: Saints @ 49ers
Play as: 49ers
Difficulty: Pretty Damn Hard
This is one of the more challenging games on the spectrum, and this comeback is hard to pull off because instead of 15-minute quarters you get five-minute quarters. You might feel the need to get creative with this one.
A couple things about that time period. The bagheads were like the worst team in football, where we had been the second worst. We had pretty much sucked for five seasons, where the bagheads had sucked since entering the league. They had some very good players on offense, but nothing on defense, and they had a terrible head coach.
Since inserting the young QB as starter a handful of games before, you could see little flashes giving some hope. This was another, where we put things together in the second half, great TD from Dwight Clark, another from Freddie Solomon. It was kind of like, yeah that was great, a win’s a win, but it’s still the bagheads. - az9rfan
Classic name: Longest Playoff Game Ever
Teams: Chargers @ Dolphins
Play as: Chargers
Unlike the other levels where you have to come from behind to win, you're given a 24-point lead in this challenge. If you somehow blow this lead, you should stop playing and sell your console. Your quarterback and halfback are both a 90+ rating. This is all you.
Arguably the most entertaining NFL game ever played. Air Coryell at the height of its glory. Longtime backup QB Don Strock comes off the bench for MIA, trailing 24-0 in the first half, and rallies MIA to 24-17 at halftime on a hook and ladder. By the fourth MIA has a 38-31 lead. HOF QB Dan Fouts leads a late TD drive, followed by a blocked MIA FG attempt to force overtime.
In OT, Rolf Benirschke misses a chip-shot FG, and MIA has a second FG blocked. Benirschke gets a chance at redemption and doesn’t miss. HOF Kellen Winslow catches 13 for 166, a TD, a blocked FG, and is cramping in the heat so badly he has to be carried off the field. - Jeffrey Siniard, Bolts from The Blue
Classic name: The Catch
Teams: Cowboys vs 49ers
Play as: 49ers
Difficulty: Easy unless your defense is trash.
You have two plays to score with a great QB (Joe Montana) and a solid wide receiver core, and you only need 6 yards. There are way harder levels to play in this game. You don't have any timeouts, but that shouldn't be a problem. If you score quickly you have to worry about the Cowboys’ comeback because all they have to do is get into field goal range. I'd suggest shaving some time off the clock with a run play if you're not good at defense.
If you had watched the team all year, this wasn’t terribly anti-climatic. Our defense was awesome, offense was good and made plays when they needed to. I was at home, watching with my youngest son who was 10 at the time. My wife at the time had bought him a Cowboys jacket in ‘76, and after they won in ’77, there was no turning him back. So this was gonna be good. Game see-sawed, which gave us both opportunities to rub it in. They score late in the fourth to take a 6-point lead, he’s jumping and screaming all over the place, game over, crap like that.
Still over three minutes left, I tell him, "we got ’em right where we want ’em." Joe marches ‘em down the field, Dwight Clark makes the catch, I go nuts. He gets up, runs to his room, slams the door. I’m like, “wait a minute, it’s not over yet.” He’s not hearing it, in his bed with pillow over his head shedding a few little tears. I try to offer a little comfort/hope, but I gotta go see the rest of this. In the melee after the game, what I remember most was Lawrence Pillers making mud angels on the sideline.
The thing is, very few people can fathom how atrocious this team had been for a very long time prior to ‘81. The field was cement with patches, ugly as sin. The team played down to that level on a routine basis. ’81 was like rising up out of a sewer we’d been in for years, and finally breathing fresh air.
And it wasn’t due to some No. 1 overall pick magic bean QB, or magic bean WR. It was a stud defense that came together in one year, a bunch of guys on offense that could execute a scheme together. Out of those players that had been not much the year before, turned into three pro bowlers on offense, 2 first team all pro’s and three pro bowlers on defense. it was a great time. - az9rfan
Classic name: Greatest Washington Comeback
Teams: Raiders vs. Washington
Play as: Washington
Difficulty: Super hard
This comeback is a tough one. You start on your own 13 down not 14 points, but 15. As with most of these levels here, the offensive line seems to not care about the health and well-being of the quarterback or running back. It's literally like that time in the Adam Sandler version of The Longest Yard where they stop blocking for him.
You're going to have to go for two at least once. (Twice if you're daring.) You're given two good wide receivers, but since this game gets drop happy you can't just expect them to make these outstanding plays for you all of the time ... or even get them the ball.
Classic name: The Drive
Teams: Broncos vs. Browns
Play as: Broncos
This one is in the middle of the spectrum due to Jon Elway's ability to scramble. We all know that in video games, scrambling quarterbacks are king, and Elway gives you that added element that makes this level easier than some of the other ones that involve a drive. You have the option to play for the tie, but if you're like me and you listen to the bad coach conscience, you go for the win right there.
I'd be a terrible coach.
Remember when beating the Browns was considered an accomplishment? Like half of John Elway’s legacy is based on this one fact, which feels somehow dirty today. - Christian D’Andrea, SB Nation
Many kids turned Broncomaniacs this day. I was one of them. I was too young to care too much about football when there were G.I. Joe’s to play with, but when there are a dozen adults in the room going crazy with each play, I began to watch. I saw The Drive. And then saw every Broncos game I could ever since. - Tim Lynch, Mile High Report
I saw this request and said “Fuck that, I'm not reliving that shit pile of a game where some horse-toothed bastard goes down the field.” - Matt Wood, Dawgs by Nature
Classic name: The 2-second miscalculation
Teams: 49ers vs. Bengals
Play as: 49ers
Difficulty: Fairly easy, but it may take you a few tries.
As hilariously sad as this level is in real life, it's going to take you a couple of tries in this game. It's not like you have an all-time QB-receiver combination at your disposal.
Oh shit, it's Jerry Rice and a store-brand Joe Montana. How convenient.
While Rice being on the team is a big help, I actually found A to be open more often. If you do plan on only targeting Rice (and I don't blame you), make sure you figure out where he is on the field before you snap the ball. He pops up in different places depending on the play call.
Classic name: Same old Bucs
Teams: Bucs vs. Cardinals
Play as: Cardinals
Difficulty: F**cking impossible
You want me to score 26 points in five minutes? This is just hell. Forget about not letting the Bucs offense score, because this is about not even letting the Bucs offense take the field because you don't have time for it. I'm not going to lie. I threw my controller a couple of times back then. Softly because of the controller was on a cord.
If anyone ever told me in person that they beat this level not on rookie and not with the penalties turned off (you ain't slick) I still wouldn't believe you. Your QB is 92 over. That's cool. YOU'RE STILL DOWN 25 IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. You have to be an absolute deity at onside kicking to get the ball over and over again with the time limit that you're given. I totally understand if you still haven't. You have to average five points a minute just to tie the game. I don't blame you fam.
NFC South teams and 28-3 leads, amirite folks? - Christian D’Andrea, SB Nation
In many ways that Nov. 8 in St. Louis was a microcosm of what it meant to be a Bucs during the Ray Perkins era. The Bucs had lured Ray Perkins to replace the atrocious Leeman Bennett after consecutive 2-14 seasons. The Bucs were on the road and that meant the game would be broadcast on local TV, which never happened for lowly attended Bucs home games. To make it better, the team was winning for the first time since 1981: Only the defending champion Bears were ahead in the NFC North, and a playoff spot looked like a real possibility at 4-3. The future looked bright, too, with Vinny Testaverde waiting to take over as the savior of Tampa, and that interception-prone bum Steve Young traded to the 49ers for a second-round pick.
Perkins looked like a genius for three quarters against the Cardinals, exploiting their lack of speed at linebacker. James Wilder and Jeff Smith routinely turned checkdowns into big gains, combining for 130 yards in a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust era. Quarterback Steve DeBerg danced on the field, Bucs fans like myself danced in front of their TVs, and the Cardinals got agitated. Tampa would enter the fourth quarter up 28-3.
And that’s when life as a Bucs fan in the 1980s happened. Instead of continuing to rely on speed, Perkins tried to outmuscle the Cardinals. Instead of blitzing, they started to play soft, off coverage. Wilder fumbled on an exceptionally obvious running play, and suddenly the Cardinals were down by just 11 points. The Bucs then tried to run out the clock, and instead found themselves down 31-28. DeBerg would give the Bucs one final shot from the 36-yard line, but the wind got into Donald Igwebuike’s kick and it hit the crossbar.
With it fell the Bucs season, as they wouldn’t win another game. Safety Ron Woods criticized his teammates’ effort on defense and was never allowed to suit up again. Perkins turned into the great dictator and would go to spiral out of control, at one point punching a player. He spent the rest of his four seasons in Tampa benching and then unbenching players, losing control at times, and laying blame everywhere but with himself. - William Malzone
Classic name: 49ers do it again
Teams: Bengals @ 49ers
Play as: 49ers
Difficulty: Easy. You have Jerry Rice.
This is a 92-yard drive, but don't worry because you have GOD MODE JERRY RICE. Seriously you're given Rice. He's given a 100 overall rating. Or use him as a decoy and throw to his other weapons like say the tight end? This is a straightforward one compared to the dream-crushing level I just talked about. How do you blow a 25-point lead in one quarter? ONE QUARTER?! HOW?
In retrospect, what seems so foreign these days about the memories of that game was watching them get the ball back with three minutes left inside their own 10-yard line, and yet still knowing — absolutely, unshakeably KNOWING — that they were going to pull it off. I knew it, my dad knew it, everybody else on our living room couch knew it. Uncle Mike knew it, and he had been asleep in the recliner since halftime. Everyone in the stadium knew it (even if half of them weren’t happy about it). Even Sam Wyche knew it.
And that’s what made it such a masterful work of art and so incredible to watch: They just couldn’t stop it. It was like watching a perfectly choreographed dance with just enough drama: Things go well, there’s a setback, then a big teasing false finish to heighten the anticipation, and finally the big finale, which—even though we all knew it was coming—brought forth such an eruption of celebration throughout the Bay Area that we’re fairly certain it prepped the San Andreas fault for Loma Prieta. In the aftermath, my hands were sore from high-fives, my ribs hurt from the hugs and my eyes were stinging from joyful tears, along with a few somber ones after watching Bill Walsh break down in the locker room.
It was incredible, and even after the curbstomping they put on the Broncos the next year, or Steve Young’s masterpiece in 1994, or the "Bummer" comeback, or even The Catch II, the closest I’ve come to how I felt after that play was watching the Vernon Post to beat the Saints, and it still didn’t quite compare. But it was close. - StripedKramer
Classic name: Wide Right
Teams: Bills vs. Giants
Play as: Bills
Difficulty: If you can kick, you good. Easy.
Just get in field goal range and don't blow it am I right? You're QB/WR/RB core is crazy good ratings wise. You also have three timeouts and the two-minute warning.
This all-New York Super Bowl is the first I can remember watching in my life. It was a much bigger deal just to be awake at 9:30 that night, but I remember the sense of bewilderment as Scott Norwood’s game-winning kick sailed wide right. No one at my parents’ viewing party had much of a stake in the game, but everything went quiet for those brief seconds the ball flipped toward the uprights — and then everything got louder than ever. - Christian D’Andrea, SB Nation
It was heartbreaking for me as a kid to watch my favorite team lose like that. As the 25th anniversary has come and gone and more people look back on the game, Bill Belichick really did a masterful job as the Giants defensive coordinator, but Buffalo had opportunities they needed to capitalize on. Bills fans chanted and cheered for Scott Norwood when the team returned home. No one blames him for the loss, and those Super Bowl teams are still revered in town. - Matt Warren, Buffalo Rumblings
Classic name: Houston's hearts Ripped out
Teams: Oilers vs. Broncos
Play as: Broncos
God Mode Elway strikes again. All jokes aside, having a quarterback as good that can scramble as well is a good help. It's a 98-yard drive, but Elway is a good in these classic levels, so you should be OK.
I became a Broncomaniac during The Drive, but it was The Drive II that I was able to fully appreciate. Converting two fourth downs in the final two minutes in the AFC Divisional Round. It was clutch. It was John Elway. I lost my voice and ran around the house like a crazed boy from Lord of the Flies. - Tim Lynch, Mile High Report
Classic name: The Two TD comeback on KC
Teams: Chiefs vs Broncos
Play as: Broncos
Compared to the other ones, this is sort of a tame level. However, this is still a challenge. You're given 3:30 and John Elway (again) in the nice orange jerseys.
No Way Elway! Too bad, Chiefs Kingdom ... Elway is still your King. - Tim Lynch, Mile High Report
Elway is enemy No. 1 in Kansas City. This is one of many, many games in which he broke our hearts. - Joel Thorman, Arrowhead Pride
Classic name: The Biggest Comeback Ever
Teams: Oilers vs. Bills
Play as: Bills
Difficulty: Hard as hell, but not as hard as the ‘Same Ol’ Bucs’ level
This level is already hard, and it's even harder when you realize that they only give you five-minute quarters to do so. You have to be perfect; you can't afford to level the Oilers score again. The more times you try to defeat this level, the more frustrated you are with the real-life Houston Oilers for somehow blowing a 35-3 lead. You are given five-minute quarters. How. This might take you days, weeks or months. This took me a long time to defeat on a respectable difficulty level and because of this I forever hate the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.
What a classic game for Bills fans, but most people don’t know it was blacked out in Western New York. I didn’t see the game until years later on DVD. I listened to it on the radio like so many fans. It’s still the most well-attended game in Bills history as easily 250,000 people claim to have been there that day to see it with their own eyes. In fact, a large number of fans left the January game to head to the parking lot only to storm the gates and re-enter when the Bills made their own charge. - Matt Warren, Buffalo Rumblings
Classic name: The Heartbreaker
Teams: Broncos vs. Chiefs
Play as: Chiefs
You start this level returning the kickoff. Your second-string QB has a higher rating than your first-string quarterback. Your running back is impressive, and you have a good receiver followed by other decent options. Unfortunately, you don't have enough time to afford running the ball.
If I had to pick my favorite Broncos loss of all time, it would be this game. Watching it, it just felt like I was watching something that would be one for the ages. It was special to see Joe Montana and John Elway go up and down the field in an instant classic. - Tim Lynch, Mile High Report
There is an entire generation of Chiefs fans who are fans because Montana came to Kansas City and this is the instant classic everyone thinks of. You can say “Montana Magic” to anyone in Kansas City and they will go right back to this Monday night game. Two Hall of Famers going at it in primetime with a dramatic ending. It doesn’t get any better than that. - Joel Thorman, Arrowhead Pride
Classic name: The Colts’ Collapse
Teams: Colts vs. Bills
Play as: Bills
Difficulty: Medium, but you have time.
Another Bills comeback? Fine. Ugh. This one is in 1997. You're given three quarters to work with, so while you're still in a deep hole, at least you have more time to chip away at the lead, unlike the Bucs-Cardinals one which I'm still mad about. I'm petty and I don't care. Not having to depend on the air attack is always a relief.
This game is clearly overshadowed in Bills lore by the team’s Wild Card comeback a few years prior. A former player told me head coach Marv Levy’s speech at halftime included a Booker T. Washington quote that rallied the guys; 'Character, not circumstance, defines the person.' Levy was the perfect leader for those teams. - Matt Warren, Buffalo Rumblings
Classic name: The Super Bowl Drive
Teams: Packers vs. Broncos
Play as: Broncos
Difficulty: Not that hard
This is one of the few levels that start out with the game tied. Once again you're given God Mode Elway and you're already on the Green Bay 49. When you do score, you have to stop Brett Favre from getting you back. Simple enough right? Even if Favre does score you still have Elway the God to deliver you from evil.
Everyone was rooting for Elway to get the monkey off his back and win his first Super Bowl — especially seeing as Favre had earned his the year prior. Watching him helicopter his way to a first-and-goal situation gave the world the iconic Elway highlight we somehow still can’t escape. Do us all a favor on this one and just slide for the first down. - Christian D’Andrea, SB Nation
Growing up in Northern California the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it was brutal being the only Broncos fan around. So when the Broncos finally won it all, it was a moment that I’ll always cherish as a fan. I still get goosebumps when I watch the game. - Tim Lynch, Mile High Report
It was supposed to be a glorious repeat for the Packers, a hearkening back to their back-to-back wins in Super Bowls I and II. The Green and Gold were dominant most of the year, but just a bit less so than in 1996. The fans — myself included — were overconfident, and it seemed the team thought it was just going to be a walk in the park. Then Terrell Davis and John Elway happened. I can still remember a certain 10-year old sitting on the living room floor in disbelief. - Evan “Tex” Western, Acme Packing Co.
Classic name: A Yard Too Short
Teams: Rams vs. Titans
Play as: Titans
You have one play to win a Super Bowl for Steve McNair. You score the touchdown ...
and then kick the field goal for the tie ...
SIKE I LIED
Classic name: Vinatieri Strikes again
Teams: Rams vs. Patriots
Play as: Patriots
We've reached the young Tom Brady era. In this level, you have a chance to use the 86 overall Tom Brady OR the higher-rated Drew Bledsoe, who is the backup because of the Tom Brady origin story. Just get the ball to Vinatieri’s range.
and watch him work!
My favorite part of the Patriots final drive is John Madden saying that New England should just play for overtime, and then watching Tom Brady chip his way down the field and into field goal range. When you watch the drive over again, now with 17 years of Tom Brady in our minds, it makes sense. It’s the same Brady that you see come back against the Atlanta Falcons. No fear. No panic. He’s simply a machine. - Rich Hill, Pats Pulpit
Classic name: The Botched Snap
Teams: Giants vs. 49ers
Play as: 49ers
Not the hardest level in the "How did they blow this lead" category. This is actually a three-possession game if you convert on 3/3 attempts. It's your risk to take, though. You have a Hall of Fame-caliber wide receiver in Terrell Owens and a Jeff Garcia who has scramble capabilities. You have to contain Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber, so this is no cakewalk.
When the 49ers fell behind 38-14 in the third quarter, I decided to get up and walk around our coffee table during the 49ers next drive. I just couldn’t sit there. The 49ers scored a touchdown and converted the two-point conversion. Suffice to say, I walked around the coffee table for the rest of the game. I’m sure my superstition didn’t swing the game, but you can’t prove it didn’t! - David Fucillo, Niners Nation
Classic name: 4th and 26
Teams: Packers vs. Eagles
Play as: Eagles
Difficulty: Medium unless you get bailed out.
This one looks difficult at face value, but there is a workaround to this level. Yes, a fourth-and-26 is difficult to convert; however, if you can draw a defensive penalty this level gets infinity easier. This level would have earned a harder rating if not for this workaround, but with that being said this is still going to take you a couple of tries either way.
Fourth-and-26 will live on forever in Philadelphia history. The Eagles simply had no business converting that play. I remember having no faith they could do it. After two straight years of losing in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles were about to choke again and get bounced at home in the Divisional Round.
But then it happened. Donovan McNabb hit Freddie Mitchell RIGHT at the first-down marker. It couldn’t have been closer. There are even some Eagles players who will privately admit they didn’t think he got it. But he did, and it was glorious. The crazy thing is that Mitchell was a big bust in Philly but he made some of the most memorable plays in franchise history. That was one of them. - Brandon Lee Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
F****ing 4th and 26. That down and distance still makes Packers fans cringe.
That Packers team had the best offensive line and running back in football, and they blew it. But while most people will remember Freddie Mitchell’s catch to keep that drive alive, I remember two other things vividly. The first was middle linebacker Nick Barnett dropping only about 15 yards deep in zone coverage on that play instead of carrying his coverage to the first-down marker, where he could have been in position to break up the play. The second was the fact that this game went to overtime, and the defense got a three-an-out on the Eagles’ opening possession.
However, on the Packers’ only offensive snap of the extra period, Brett Favre threw a terrible, terrible interception, and Philly put the game away. That game exemplified the biggest problem with Mike Sherman’s tenure as head coach: He couldn’t rein in Favre from making some awful decisions, even when he had one of the league’s best running games at his disposal.” - Evan “Tex” Western, Acme Packing Co.