TEN YEARS ago, the Eagles were closing out one of the best seasons in recent team history, a year that ended with a Super Bowl appearance. Each week this year, the Daily News will look back at the 2004 season.
Game 14 - Eagles 12, Cowboys 7
Date: Dec. 19, 2004
Site: Lincoln Financial Field
Vegas Vic's lines: Eagles -12 1/2. Over/under: 46.
Weather: 37 degrees, mostly cloudy.
What it meant: The win clinched homefield advantage for the Eagles (13-1) throughout the NFC playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Birds also set a team record for wins in a season.
What it really meant: A serious injury to star wide receiver Terrell Owens tempered much of the celebration. Owens suffered a fibula fracture and a ligament sprain in his right ankle after he was horse-collared by safety Roy Williams. The tackle was a legal play then. It subsequently has been outlawed.
Game stuff: Lito Sheppard tipped a pass that led to a Sheldon Brown interception in the third quarter and then sealed the game in the waning minutes with a pick of his own. Earlier in the year, Sheppard had a 101-yard interception return for touchdown at Dallas. Eight of Sheppard's 19 career picks were against the Cowboys . . . Donovan McNabb had two key scrambles for 31 yards on the game-winning drive. Dorsey Levens clinched it with a 2-yard dive . . . This was the 91st game between the Eagles and Cowboys and the lowest-scoring ever to that point. It was surpassed in 2007 when the Eagles beat Dallas, 10-6 . . . Keyshawn Johnson scored the Cowboys' only touchdown.
Missfortune: David Akers' extra-point attempt after the Eagles' first quarter touchdown was blocked by Dallas lineman Kurt Vollers. This snapped a string of 168 consecutive PATs made by Akers, counting postseason.
Gone to pot: Less than 2 years later, and out of football, Vollers went to work for a Dallas-area drug ring. He was arrested in 2008 and pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. He eventually was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.
Current events: The last-place Miami Dolphins were about to start the search for a new head coach, which eventually ended with the hiring of LSU coach Nick Saban. Two years later, Saban went to Alabama. LSU fans still despise him for it . . . Notre Dame hired Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as its head coach . . . The city of Philadelphia sued the Eagles for $10.7 million for back payments of luxury boxes the city built at Veterans Stadium when Leonard Tose was the owner . . . Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged he used a machine to sign more than 1,000 condolence letters sent to families of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Back to the game: Owens was done for the rest of the regular season. There was faint hope that he could return for a possible appearance in the Super Bowl. Miraculously, it turned out, he did.
Sight for sore eyes: Owens ended the season with a team-record 14 touchdown receptions, which was one shy of a wild wager he made with coach Andy Reid in training camp. If T.O. scored 15 touchdowns, Reid would have to wear spandex tights similar to what Owens wore. Fortunately for everyone involved, that never happened.
No white flags here: "We have other players besides T.O.," running back Brian Westbrook said. "He's an important part of our team and he is a playmaker, but we have other guys who can make plays and I expect those guys to step up."
And finally: "Brought to Philadelphia to lead the Eagles to a championship, carried in on a sedan chair and fanned with palm fronds, T.O. was last seen leaving Lincoln Financial Field and heading into the tunnel beneath the stands, and then onto the injury cart," Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann wrote. "Later, he would leave the Eagles' locker room on crutches.
And now a city waits, and worries.
And a football team circles."
- Ed Barkowitz