The 10 worst postseason losses in Eagles history

The 10 worst postseason losses in Eagles history originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The sad thing about this list of the 10 worst playoff losses in Eagles history is that it was so tough to narrow it down.

There’ve just been too many of these postseason nightmares.

Just think of the games that didn't make the cut:

The 2021 wild-card game in Tampa, when they trailed 31-0 in the third quarter. The 14-0 wild-card whitewash in San Francisco in 1996. The back-to-back 14-point home wild-card losses to the Rams and Washington in 1989 and 1990. The wild-card loss in Atlanta in 1978 when they blew a 13-point 4th-quarter lead and Mike Michel missed a game-winning 33-yard field goal with 13 seconds left. The home losses to the Packers in 2010, the Saints in 2013 and the Seahawks in 2019. The 1981 wild-card game against the Giants, who led 20-0 before the first quarter was over.

All painful. But not quite as painful as these 10.

As bad as those were? These are worse.

That said, here’s our look at the 10 most horrifying, disturbing, wretched, atrocious, painful postseason losses in Eagles history.

1. Buccaneers 27, Eagle 10 [2002 NFC Championship Game]

(Jan. 19, 2003, the Vet)

The top-seeded Eagles were four-point favorites over the Bucs, who they had beaten by 10 points during the regular season. Duce Staley’s 20-yard TD run just 52 seconds into the game had the crowd at the Vet going berserk, but the Eagles‘ 4th-ranked offense managed only one David Akers field goal and 292 yards the rest of the game. The game was tied at 10-10 late in the second quarter before the Bucs scored 17 straight points, including Ronde Barber’s exclamation point 92-yard interception return touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The 17-point defeat is the Eagles’ largest in franchise history at home.

Quote: “The fans were ready, the city was ready, we just didn’t play well enough to win. The stage was set. We just didn’t get it done,” Troy Vincent.

2. Panthers 14, Eagles 3 [2003 NFC Championship Game]

(Jan. 18, 2004, the Linc)

A year later, another 12-win No. 1 seed hosted the NFC Championship Game and once again the Eagles were four-point favorites. And once again they lost by double figures. Donovan McNabb threw three interceptions and Koy Detmer threw a fourth after replacing McNabb late in the game after he had suffered a rib injury in the second quarter. This was still a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter, but McNabb’s third interception – with 6 ½ minutes left and the Eagles down four – set up DeShaun Foster’s clinching touchdown. The Eagles’ three points are the fewest they’ve ever scored in a home playoff game and the fewest any home team has scored in a conference title game since the Rams shut out the Bucs 9-0 in 1979.

QUOTE: “It’s tough to say they’re the better team, but they’re going to the Super Bowl and we’re not.”

3. Buccaneers 32, Eagles 9 [2023 wild-card game]

(Jan. 15, 2024, Raymond James Stadium)

The Eagles’ historic late-season collapse culminated in the worst wild-card loss in franchise history. This was a one-possession game early in the third quarter, but Jalen Hurts’ safety and Baker Mayfield’s 56-yard TD pass to Trey Palmer just 59 seconds later turned a close game into a laugher. The Bucs’ 16-point advantage after halftime – they outscored the Eagles 16-0 in the second half– is the largest second-half scoring margin in Eagles postseason history.

QUOTE: “We’ve had a ton of opportunities to do great things and we haven’t taken advantage of them. The reality is we have to be better, and that starts with me,” Jalen Hurts

4. Cowboys 34, Eagles 10 [1992 conference semifinal game]

(Jan. 10, 1993, Texas Stadium)

The Eagles had won five straight when they went into North Texas but after a short Roger Ruzek field goal gave them an early three-point lead, the Cowboys reeled off 34 straight points. Even a late meaningless Calvin Williams TD catch from Randall Cunningham wasn’t enough to make this the most lopsided postseason loss in Eagles history. The only time the Eagles allowed more points in a postseason loss was 38-35 to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII last year. The Eagles netted only 178 yards, to this day their fewest yards ever in a playoff game.

QUOTE: “I’m shocked. Especially the way we got beat so handily. We got whooped,” Reggie White.

5. Chiefs 38, Eagles 35 [Super Bowl LVII]

(Feb. 12, 2003, State Farm Stadium)

What made this loss so painful is that the Eagles seemed to have the game in hand. They put together a terrific first half and led by 10 at halftime and by six early in the fourth quarter before things fell apart. The Chiefs’ 17 points in the fourth quarter are the most the Eagles have ever allowed in a fourth quarter of a playoff game. Going into that game, teams leading a Super Bowl by double digits at halftime were 26-1. Now they’re 26-2.

QUOTE: “We worked really hard to have this opportunity and to come up short, it’s tough. There’s a lot to learn from tonight.”

6. Raiders 27, Eagles 10 [Super Bowl XV]

(Jan. 25, 1981, Louisiana Superdome)

Another game that was pretty much over as soon as it began. Jim Plunkett threw touchdowns to Cliff Branch and Kenny King and the Raiders led 14-0 before the first quarter was over, to this day matching the most points ever scored in a first quarter of a Super Bowl and the largest 1st-quarter deficit in Super Bowl history. The Raiders led 24-3 before the Eagles finally scored their only touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles’ first Super Bowl was a disaster start to finish.

QUOTE: “We needed a team effort and we didn’t get it today. We got behind early and played right into their hands. We were never able to get into the flow of the game,” Ron Jaworski.

7. Cowboys 34, Eagles 14 [2009 wild-card game]

(Jan. 9, 2010, AT&T Stadium)

Tied after the first quarter, down 27 at halftime. That’s really hard to do, but that’s exactly what happened in Donovan McNabb’s final game in an Eagles uniform. The Cowboys scored 27 points in less than 13 ½ minutes, turning a close game into a laugher. The 27 points are the 5th-most in any quarter in postseason history and seven more than the Eagles have ever allowed in any other playoff quarter. The Eagles committed four turnovers, three inside their own 25-yard-line. Not a receipt for success.

QUOTE: “I take full responsibility for it. For all the opportunities we had to make plays, I should have made those plays for our team. I just didn’t today,” Donovan McNabb

8. Cowboys 30, Eagles 11 [1995 conference semifinal game]

(Jan. 7, 1996, Texas Stadium)

If these scores are starting to look familiar, there’s a reason why. The Eagles have lost four playoff games in franchise history by more than 17 points. Three were against the Cowboys in Dallas. One was Monday night in Tampa. What made the 1995 game so miserable was that when starting quarterback Rodney Peete suffered a concussion in the first quarter, backup Randall Cunningham was unprepared to play. Cunningham, benched a month into the season, had missed the entire week of practice in Vero Beach, Fla., to be with his wife at the birth of their first child in Las Vegas. He didn’t bring his playbook with him. Oops. Cunningham was an erratic 11-for-26 for 161 yards and an interception in his last game as an Eagle.

Quote: “It seems like when we come down here, they come to play and we don’t. We were confident, but they came to play and we didn’t,” Bill Romanowski.

9. Bears 20, Eagles 12 [1988 conference semifinal game]

(Dec. 31, 1988, Soldier Field)

It wasn’t the fog that beat the Eagles in the Fog Bowl. It was their inability to convert time and time again from deep in Bears territory. The Eagles had drives down to the Chicago 4, 11, 16, 17, 24, 25 and 39 without scoring and drives to the 11, 13, 17 and 24 without a touchdown. That’s 10 drives inside the opposing 25 and no touchdowns. That’s really hard to do. The Eagles’ 430 yards that day remains the most in NFL postseason history by a team that didn’t score a touchdown, and Randall Cunningham’s 407 yards are the most in NFL postseason history by a quarterback without a TD pass. The Fog is not why the Eagles lost.

QUOTE: “Every time we got down there, they just kept pulling us back. The only way to sum it up is we didn’t execute,” Randall Cunningham.

10. Cards 32, Eagles 25 [2008 NFC Championship Game]

(Jan. 18, 2009, State Farm Stadium)

Another huge game that the Eagles had in their hands and let slip away. Donovan McNabb’s 62-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson early in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles a 25-24 lead, but the Cards drove 72 yards in 14 plays over 7:52 and took the lead for good on Kurt Warner’s eight-yard TD pass to Tim Hightower with 2:53 left. Hightower had converted a 4th-and-1 from the Eagles’ 49 with eight minutes left, and a stop most likely would have sent the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The Eagles did get the ball back and got into Cards territory in the final minutes before McNabb’s 4th-down pass to Kevin Curtis fell incomplete after Curtis was clearly interfered with by Rod Hood. It went uncalled. That loss was the end of an era, Brian Dawkins’ final game as an Eagle and Jim Johnson’s final game on the sideline.

QUOTE: “It just hurts. When you burn your hand, no matter how you burned it, is still hurts.”

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