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Eagles' Championship Drought now at 49 after loss to Cowboys


0 and 49 and counting.

In a parity-stricken, 32-team league, no franchise with any degree of success should have to go 50 years without a championship.

Yet, after Saturday night’s fiasco in Dallas in which the Eagles were thoroughly embarrassed by the Cowboys  to the tune of 34-14, and it could have been worse, the years without a title is now up to 49.

So next year Jeffrey Lurie’s Gold Standard will be able to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the last time his team were crowned NFL champions.

What makes it worse for the Eagles (the Andy Reid  era) is that it’s not one team they cannot beat, or one franchise that always stands in the way.

That would be at least somewhat understandable. Such as when the Bum Phillips-Earl Campbell led Houston Oilers just couldn’t get past Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain in the ‘70s, or when Tom Landry’s Cowboys couldn’t beat Vince Lombardi’s Packers in the ‘60s. Or even when Troy Aikman and the Dallas trilogy took turns with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice’s 49ers to win in the 90s. Reid finds a new team to lose to in every one of his playoff disasters.

Reid has taken the Eagles to the postseason eight times in eleven years. This of course is a very good percentage, and the reason why the organization rewarded him with a new contract. Only problem is, Reid has lost to eight different teams along the way.

In 2000, it was the Giants, who had his number beating him three times, the third time in the second round of the playoffs. You know, when they took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and never looked back.

In 2001, the Eagles moved past the Giants, won the NFC East for the first time under Reid, and then ran into St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf’’ and fell to the high-powered Rams inside their dome in the NFC Championship Game.

The following off-season the mantra was “to get home field advantage.’’ If the Eagles could just get the Rams outside in January, they would slow them down and get to the Super Bowl. It worked to some extent. The Eagles did gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but it was Tampa Bay coming to the Vet for the NFC title game and spoiling the Eagles dreams, as Jon Gruden and Monte Kiflin took Reid and Jim Johnson to school in that one.

The following year was the same script, except Carolina played the role of Tampa Bay, losing to Reid’s Eagles during the regular season and then beating them in the NFC Championship Game at brand new Lincoln Financial Field.

When the Eagles did get to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, it was New England who ended their dream.

And so it has gone – New Orleans in 2006 in the conference semifinals; Arizona in 2008 in another NFC Championship Game; and Dallas this year in the first round of the playoffs – a new ending to the same old story for Reid and the Eagles.

This year, like the rest of them, had hope. Team President Joe Banner said before the season the Eagles had the best roster in the NFL. This was quite a boast for a team with an above average defensive line, a below average group of linebackers, and still looking for a safety to replace the great Brian Dawkins. The best roster in the league went 11-5, which quarterback Donovan McNabb said more than once after the Dallas debacle “was a great season.’’ Going 11-5 and making the playoffs is good by any standard.

Great? You have to do better than that to be great.

And that’s the Eagles problem these past 49 years, they have been good, they just have never been great. When they went on their six-game winning streak this year that raised expectations and started the Super Bowl talk. All they really did was beat six bad teams – Chicago, Atlanta (without half of its offense), Washington, the Giants, San Francisco and Denver. Good teams do that. They beat the bad teams, and pile up enough wins to make the playoffs. Great teams beat the good ones. The Eagles went 0-5 this year against good teams.

Which is why they are 0-49 and counting.

Contact Mark Eckel at meckel@njtimes.com


Homepage photo: AP Photo/Sharon Ellman

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