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January 16, 2018

Ranking the Eagles' Conference Championship appearances, from most devastating to most satisfying

In the Super Bowl era, the Philadelphia Eagles have been to the NFC Championship Game six times, winning two, and losing four. Here we'll rank those appearances from most devastating to most satisfying.

6) 2002 season: Eagles lose 27-10 to the Buccaneers

In the final game at Veterans Stadium, the Eagles came into this matchup as four-point favorites. They got a long return on the opening kickoff, and a quick 20-yard TD run from Duce Staley, and the rout was going to be on, right? Nope.

Pretty much nothing went right the rest of the way, as Joe Jerevicius had a 71-yard catch and run, leading to a Mike Alstott one-yard plunge, giving the Bucs the lead, which they would never relinquish.

Late in the game, with a little more than three minutes to go, the Eagles were down 10, but driving, when Ronde Barber happened. Note: Don't actually watch this:

5) 2003 season: Eagles lose 14-3 to the Panthers

Like the previous year, the Eagles were four-point favorites, but this time they only scored "three stinkin' points," as Ricky Manning Jr. intimidated Todd Pinkston all day, while picking off three Donovan McNabb passes.  Here's one of them:

That was the Eagles' third consecutive NFC Championship Game loss in as many years, making them something close to the Buffalo Bills of the NFC, but lamer.

4) 2008 season: Eagles lose 32-25 to the Cardinals

With the Eagles once again favorites, this time by 3.5 points on the road, they dropped a heart-breaker to the Cardinals. Really, the Eagles shouldn't have been anywhere near the NFC Championship Game in 2008, as they needed a miracle scenario just to make the playoffs, culminated by a 44-6 beatdown of the Dallas Cowboys.

Still, after beating the Vikings in the wildcard round and the No. 1 seed Giants in the divisional round, the Eagles were red hot and looking like serious Super Bowl contenders.

The Eagles fell way behind in the first half, with the Cardinals up 24-6 at halftime, but the Eagles stormed back, taking a 25-24 lead with 10:45 to go on a bomb to DeSean Jackson. On a personal note, this was back in my fan days, and I can still remember scaring the bejesus out of my cat Butters when the Eagles scored on this play. 

BUT... Arizona followed that up with an 8 minute TD drive of their own, and the Eagles couldn't answer.

3) 2001 season: Eagles lose 29-24 to the Rams

The Eagles were down 12 in the fourth quarter, but they scored with 3:01 to go. The defense then promptly forced a punt, and the Eagles had to drive 55 yards with 2:20 left to get the win. They were unable to pick up a single first down, and Aeneas Williams picked off McNabb on fourth down.

While a tough loss to take, the Rams were a juggernaut at the time, coming into this matchup as 11-point favorites. The Eagles took their best shot and had a chance to win it on their final drive. It was clear that the Eagles were going to be around for a while.

2) 2004 season: The Eagles beat the Falcons 27-10 to advance to the Super Bowl

After losing in the NFC Championship Game in each of the previous three years, winning this game was more of a relief than anything. Brian Dawkins nearly murdered Alge Crumpler, the Eagles bottled up Michael Vick, and Philly won handily.

1) 1980 season: The Eagles beat the Cowboys 20-7 to advance to the Super Bowl

I was only three years old when the Eagles won this game and I don't remember it whatsoever, but in my lifetime, I've probably seen the Wilbert Montgomery run more than any other highlight ever.

Oh, and hey, the Eagles were home underdogs! The Cowboys were favored by a point. I wonder if Roynell Young wore a dog mask.

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