Choosing the worst game of the season for the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles is not an easy, or fun, task.
There are the blown fourth quarter leads, all five of them. There’s the blowout losses to New England and Seattle, which came in back-to-back weeks, with the Eagles’ backup quarterback. And then there’s the Buffalo game, in which the Eagles failed on a late comeback attempt.
But the worst game of all?
That would be the season’s fourth game, when the Eagles played the San Francisco 49ers at home.
The Eagles were 1-2, and fresh off a pair of brutal losses, in which they blew a pair of fourth quarter leads. Their season was on the line, but luckily for the Eagles, they faced a 2-1 49ers team that really wasn’t as good as their record–at least that’s what everybody thought.
The Eagles jumped out to a big 23-3 lead midway through the third quarter, and it seemed the Eagles were well on their way to evening their record for 2011.
This lead came despite a goal-line fumble by backup running back Ronnie Brown, a play that still stands as one of the stupidest plays I have ever seen.
But the 49ers staged a comeback, scoring twice in the third quarter, on a pair of touchdown passes from Alex Smith. The Eagles still led 23-17 entering the fourth quarter but the 49ers had all of the momentum.
The fourth quarter was mostly a defensive struggle. The Eagles had two opportunities to score, but both times rookie kicker Alex Henery missed on a 37-yard field goal.
At that point, the Eagles had one final chance to win the game. They started their drive on their own 20, needing just a field goal to take the lead (and probably win the game).
Vick led the Eagles down the field, and with just over two minutes remaining, Jeremy Maclin caught a 17-yard pass, putting him well into San Francisco territory. But he was caught from behind by 270-pound defensive end Justin Smith, and stripped of the ball. The 49ers recovered, ran out the clock, and won the game.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3, and put a major blow to their postseason hopes. As we all know, the Eagles ended 8-8, so winning this game would have put them in the playoffs.