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Another year and another Super Bowl champion not named the Eagles


When Tracey Porter  intercepted Peyton Manning  and returned it for a touchdown to seal the New Orleans Saints  win in Super Bowl XLIV, it made it 22 different teams Tracey Porter's pick sealed it for the Saints. Photo: http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2010/02/08/alg_saints_celebrate.jpg that have won either an AFL or NFL title since the Eagles were last champions.

Not since 1960 have the Eagles worn the crown and next year Jeffrey Lurie’s Gold Standard will get the chance to celebrate their Golden Anniversary.

It’s bad enough that all three NFC East rivals – Dallas, Washington and New York – have won multiple titles since the Eagles last won one, but Tampa Bay and now New Orleans two teams who weren’t even in existence back in 1960 have won titles.

The only teams who have not won a title since 1960 are Detroit, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Arizona, Seattle, Jacksonville, Houston (as the Texans) and Cincinnati.

Consider that Carolina, Seattle, Jacksonville and especially Houston are still rather new teams compared to the Eagles, and Atlanta and Cincinnati aren’t that old either.

That puts the Eagles in the same company as the Vikings, Lions and Cardinals in terms of championship futility.

That’s not good company.

The difference is the Eagles, like the Vikings, have come oh so close only to be denied in the end, and in amazing fashion by a different team every time.

In Andy Reid’s eight playoff losses he has lost to eight different teams – the Giants, the Rams, the Bucs, the Panthers, the Patriots, the Saints, the Cardinals, and this year the Cowboys.

It’s not one team Reid and Co. are trying to beat, it’s a playoff monster that goes all the way back to when Chuck Bednarik stopped Jim Taylor on the final play of thatEagles players celebrate the 1960 Championship with head coach Buck Shaw. Photo: Associated Press 1960 Championship Game handing Vince Lombardi his only postseason loss.

Maybe it’s Lombardi’s Ghost that haunts the Eagles.

Whatever it is, it has left the Eagles on the outside looking in as Saints parade  down Bourbon St. and Eagles fans await another snowstorm on Broad St.

So what can the Eagles do to end the drought?

If this year’s Super Bowl is any indication, the Eagles needs might have to be looked at a little differently.

A quick comparison of the Eagles with the Saints and the Colts show that the defenses were on the same level. The Eagles actually ranked higher than the Colts in almost every defensive statistic, including sacks, and turnovers.

New Orleans only edge on the Eagles defensively was the ability of its linebackers to make plays. The Saints starting linebackers combined for 14 “big plays’’ that is a combination of sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. That was twice as many as the Eagles linebackers had.

Other than that, the two sides were pretty equal.

New Orleans finished the season ranked 26th overall on defense, 20th against the run and 26th against the pass. The Eagles were 12th, 8th and 17th in the same areas, so maybe that defensive end, that linebacker and that safety to replace Brian Dawkins, are not the necessary improvements the Eagles need to get over the top.

All right maybe the safety is.

As far as pass rush, a major perceived concern for the Eagles, they outsacked the Saints, 44-35, this season. Trent Cole's 12½ sacks were almost a push with Will Smith's 13 and Juqua Parker's eight sacks were more than any other Saint.

Offensive is where the Saints had the edge on the Eagles, both in terms of running the ball and throwing it, and allowing the backs to run and the quarterback to throw.

Head coach Sean Payton, the one-time Eagles assistant under Ray Rhodes, went with the running back by committee approach, something Andy Reid does not oppose.Donovan McNabb after the Eagles Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

Pierre Thomas led the Saints with 793 yards and averaged a gaudy 5.4 yards and six touchdowns. Michael Bell also ran for 654 yards and five touchdowns. And Reggie Bush  was there, too.

The Eagles were led this season by rookie LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 637 yards, a 4.1 yards average and four touchdowns.

Yes, the Eagles could use another back, especially if Brian Westbrook is not back, and while not a top priority, it should be on the list.

A receiver "" for once "" should not be. Marques Colston (70 receptions, 1,074 yards, 9 touchdowns), Devery Henderson (51, 804, 2), Robert Meachem (45, 722, 9) and tight end Jeremy Shockey (48, 569, 3) were the Saints top four targets this season.

DeSean Jackson (63, 1,167, 9), tight end Brent Celek (76, 971, 8), rookie Jeremy Maclin (55, 762, 5) and Jason Avant (41, 587, 3) were the Eagles top four.

That’s almost a push.

Where the Saints thrived, and the Eagles just survived was the play of the quarterback and the offensive line.

Drew Brees threw for 4,388 yards, completed 71 percent of his passes, and had 34 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

Donovan McNabb, who missed two games with a sprained ankle, threw for 3,553 yards, completed 60 percent of his passes and had 22 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

New Orleans' offensive line allowed Brees to be sacked just 20 times in 534 dropbacks. McNabb was sacked 35 times in 478 dropbacks. So Brees went back to pass over 50 times more than McNabb and was sacked 15 times less, and that does not even take into account how many sacks McNabb avoided with his mobility.

Then again, McNabb’s penchant to hold the ball too long may have added to that sack total as well.

In any event, if the Eagles don’t get better quarterback play and a better offensive line the drought will continue and more teams will win titles, while they still look back to 1960.

Contact Mark Eckel at meckel@njtimes.com

McNabb photo: http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2005/writers/john_donovan/02/06/superbowl.insider/p1_mcnabb-ap.jpg