The Super Bowl is just 13 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 13 years ago to honor this not-so-significant occasion!
Jacksonville hosted Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, 2005. The game pitted the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles against the defending World Champion New England Patriots. The Patriots looked to become the first time to repeat since the Dallas Cowboys 11 years earlier.
New England Patriots 13 Years Ago
The Patriots made a significant change on offense during the offseason adding the powerful running back Corey Dillon. In 2004, Dillon rushed for a career-high 1635 yards. Consequently, the ’04 Patriots were the best of their teams to date.
On opening night, they dispatched their rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, yet again 27-24. When they defeated the Seahawks in the sixth game, New England recorded an NFL record 21st consecutive win overall. The following week, they were plastered on Halloween by Pittsburgh to end the run. But, they would store that performance in their memory banks.
In the playoffs, the Patriots would get another crack at the Colts and Steelers. Many pundits felt this could be the season Peyton Manning’s would conquer New England. It was not to be. The Patriots’ defense did something that had not occurred all season. They stonewalled Indianapolis’ top-ranked offense. In an absolute statement, the Pats embarrassed the Colts 20-3. In the following game, the Patriots would get their revenge on Pittsburgh.
The Patriots jumped all over the Steelers from the get-go at Heinz Field. The 15-1 Steelers led by rookie sensation Ben Roethlisberger were behind the eight-ball all night. They had no answer for the third-year wide receiver out of Louisville, Deion Branch. Branch went for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. The dagger was Rodney Harrison’s 87-yard interception return before the break. That score gave New England a 24-3 lead en route to the 41-27 victory.
Philadelphia Eagles 13 Years Ago
The 2004 Eagles were in the midst of their best stretch of football in franchise history. They were coming off three consecutive losses in the NFC championship game and clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a 13-1 start to the season. The Eagles had three Pro Bowl players on offense including QB Donovan McNabb, RB Brian Westbrook and All-Pro WR Terrell Owens. On defense, the Eagles were led by the fantastic Brian Dawkins and their stellar secondary.
In the playoffs, the Eagles proved way too strong for Minnesota and Atlanta despite Owens being out with a severe ankle injury. The Eagles held Mike Vick to just 136 yards passing and 26 rushing. Philly went 7 for 14 on third down conversions and that proved to be the difference as Atlanta just could not possess the ball enough for Vick to make something happen. Therefore, the Eagles advanced to their second Super Bowl!
Competitive First Half
The first half of Super Bowl XXXIX was very interesting and competitive. The Patriots registered 27 yards and 4 punts to start the game. Philadelphia did slightly better when it came to moving the chains, but consecutive drives ended in turnovers. Likewise, Brady fumbled near the goal-line for a critical Patriots’ turnover. Both teams scored touchdowns on their final drives of the first half. The Eagles scored on a pass down the middle to tight end L.J. Smith. New England countered with a brilliant drive consisting of several screen passes. Brady made a magnificent pass to David Givens for the tying score just before the break.
New England took their first drive of the second half right down the field as well. Brady consistently hit Branch to get into the red zone on both of their second half touchdown drives. Mike Vrabel put the Patriots up 14-7. Philadelphia answered with a Westbrook score and the game went into the fourth tied at 14. The Patriots proved too tough in the final frame.
With the score 24-14, the Eagles used too much clock on their final scoring drive. After they did not recover the onside kick, they were forced to use their timeouts. They did not get the ball back until there were just seconds to play and they were stuck at their own goal-line. Rodney Harrison intercepted McNabb to seal the deal.
The Patriots were officially a dynasty as of February 2005. But, they had much, much more things in store under Coach Belichick. The Eagles, on the other hand, never captured a World Championship under Andy Reid. In fact, 2017 was the best Eagles’ squad since Super Bowl XXXIX. With Carson Wentz at quarterback, the future looks bright!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills