TEN YEARS ago, the Eagles were finishing off one of the best seasons in recent team history, a year that ended with a Super Bowl appearance. Each week, the Daily News is looking back at the 2004 season.
Game 15 - Rams 20, Eagles 7
Date: Dec. 27, 2004
Site: Edward Jones Dome
Vegas Vic's lines: Rams -3.
Over/under: 45 1/2.
For the Eagles: The game was meaningless. The Birds had clinched homefield advantage the week before, when they also lost star receiver Terrell Owens to a serious foot injury. Coach Andy Reid deactivated a number of players and limited Donovan McNabb to one series. McNabb led the Eagles on a 63-yard drive that ended with a touchdown toss to Freddie Mitchell.
For the Rams: Rookie Steven Jackson ran for 148 yards and a score and Marc Bulger hit Isaac Bruce with a TD pass. St. Louis improved to 7-8 and
actually snuck into the playoffs the
following week with an overtime win over the Jets.
Not only that: But both the Rams and Vikings got into the playoffs with 8-8 records and each won a postseason game.
History lessons: This was the Eagles' first visit to St. Louis since losing, 29-24, in the NFC Championship Game following the 2001 season. The Birds are 4-0 against the Rams since, including an uncomfortable, 34-28 win this year in Philadelphia.
Numerology: It was the first Eagles' game to end 20-7 since the Birds beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game following the 1980 season.
A sad day: Eagles Hall of Famer Reggie White passed away the day before from a cardiac arrhythmia. He was 43. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and White had previously talked about a ceremony to retire White's No. 92 some time during the 2005 season.
Strong comments: Analyst John Madden disagreed with Reid's decision to bench his key players ahead of their first playoff game - which wouldn't be for another 20 days. "I don't like it," Madden said."I always felt during regular-season games you played your best players and you go out to win the game. You want to be peaking as you go into the playoffs. Shutting it down now is too early."
Game stuff: The Eagles used two other QBs in addition to McNabb. Koy Detmer completed just one of six passes and Jeff Blake went 4-for-14 . . . The Eagles came in having won 16 of 17 prime-time games under Reid . . . Rams running back Marshall Faulk's streak of consecutive games with a reception ended at 158.
Around the NFL: Lions rookie and Cardinal O'Hara product Kevin Jones became the first player from one of Philadelphia's three city leagues (Catholic, Public, Inter-Ac) to rush for 1,000 yards in an NFL season since Leroy Kelly (Gratz/Browns) in 1968 . . .
Peyton Manning broke Dan Marino's 20-year-old, single-season record by tossing his 49th touchdown pass. He played one series the following week . . . Temple product Joe Klecko had his No. 73 retired by the Jets.
Current events: An earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000. Indonesia was hit hardest . . . Actor Robert Blake was on trial for murdering his wife. He eventually was found not guilty in criminal court, but liable by a civil jury . . . Actor Jerry Orbach,
the wonderful Lennie Briscoe to "Law & Order" fans, died at 69 of prostate cancer. Boy, what a sad week.
- Ed Barkowitz