It was Nov. 11, 1962. John F. Kennedy was President. It was just weeks after the world had narrowly escaped possible nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. It was a turbulent time in the world. But things were very good for the Green Bay Packers. They were defending NFL champs and they had just beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia by a 49-0 score to improve their record in 1962 to 9-0. They wouldn't lose a game until they played a buzzsaw named the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. The Packers finished 13-1 in 1962 and beat the New York Giants 16-7 in the NFL championship game. Some say the 1962 Packer team was Vince Lombard's best ever Packer team. That is debatable. What is not debatable is that the Packers have not won a game in Philadelphia since 1962.
The Packers have played in Philadelphia seven times since that convincing victory in 1962. They have been beaten in some blowouts, like in 1974 when the Eagles thrashed the Pack 36-14, or in 1990 when Philly shut out Green Bay 31-0. The 1990 game pitted Packer right tackle Tony Mandarich against future Packer defensive end Reggie White. White dominated Mandarich and the Eagles dominated the Packers that day. Eagles defensive tackle Mike Golic quipped after the game that he would have had more sacks had he not kept tripping over Mandarich, who was getting thrown around like a rag doll by White. The 2004 game in Philadelphia was also a blowout as the Packers were drilled 47-17 as Terrell Owens had a field day against an overmatched Packer secondary.
There have been some close losses in the City of Brotherly Love as well. The Packers lost 13-7 to the Eagles in 1994 and 10-9 in 1997. The 1997 loss was especially painful as rookie K Ryan Longwell missed a chip shot field goal late in the game that would have won it. But when it comes to painful losses in Philadelphia, nothing can top what happened on Jan. 11, 2004. What happened that day rivals the Super Bowl XXXII loss to the Denver Broncos and the last second loss the Packers suffered to the San Francisco 49ers when Terrell Owens caught a 25 yard TD pass from Steve Young during the 1998 playoffs in San Francisco.
The 2003 Green Bay Packers were a game away from playing in their first NFC Championship game since 1997 when they arrived in Philadelphia that day. The Packers got off to a quick start as Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Robert Ferguson, giving the Packers a 14-0 lead. Then, just before halftime, the Packers had the ball near the Eagles goal line leading 14-7. It was fourth down. The Packers could have kicked a chip shot field goal to make it a two possession lead. But Coach Mike Sherman opted to go for it as the Packers were dominating the run game. The Packers offensive line opened a nice hole for running back Ahman Green, but Green was tripped accidentally by guard Mike Wahle just as he was about to score. Green just missed getting into the end zone and the scored remained 14-7.
In the second half, the Packers allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 14-14. Then Brett Favre hit wide receiver Javon Walker on a long pass play that set up kicker Ryan Longwell's go ahead field goal. The Packers held the Eagles in check and then started gashing the Philadelphia run defense with an assertive ground attack. It finally came down to a fourth-and-one in Philly territory. The Packers had two choices. They could punt and make the Eagles go a long way for the tying field goal or winning touchdown with little time on the clock and no timeouts. Or they could go for it behind their dominating offensive line and put their foot on the Eagles' throats and basically end the game and punch a ticket for the NFC Championship game. Sherman opted to punt. He may have been gun shy after the Eagles goal line stop late in the first half. But still, the Eagles defensive front had their tongues hanging out and the Packers were gashing the run game for big yardage on that drive, and throughout the game.
Josh Bidwell punted the ball into the end zone giving the Eagles the ball at the 20 yard line. The Packers then forced the Eagles into a 4th and 26 situation. Once again, one play here and the Packers are on their way to Carolina for the NFC Championship game. We all know what happened. Wide receiver Freddie Mitchell found a hole in the Packer secondary as middle linebacker Nick Barnett didn't roll into deep coverage and the safeties were playing too deep. The Eagles got their miracle first down and went on to get a field goal to force overtime. Philadelphia went on to win the game in overtime as safety Brian Dawkins picked off Brett Favre setting up the game winning field goal. A lot of people tried to blame that loss on Favre and that interception. I say there never should have been an interception because there never should have been an overtime. The Packers had ample opportunities that day to win the game and get to the NFC Championship game.
The 2005 Packers are 2-8. The 2005 Eagles are 4-6. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries. Both teams have had their share of team turmoil. Some say there isn't a lot to play for. The Packers know that just one more loss guarantees a sub .500 season. They also know that they owe the Eagles for some painful losses as of late. The Packers also have a chance of becoming the first Packer team since Lombardi's fabled 1962 team to win in Philly. I'd say that they are due.
Bob Fox is a longtime Packers fan and freelance writer from the Tampa, Fla. area.