Super Bowl 52 features the New England Patriots taking on the Philadelphia Eagles, which gives a chance to get nostalgic for the mid-2000s. Yes, this is a rematch of Super Bowl 39, which ended with the Patriots winning their third title in four years and solidifying their dynasty after a 24-21 victory. The Eagles haven’t been back to the big game until this year.
A lot has changed with both teams since that memorable game on Feb. 6, 2005. In fact, there are only a handful of players still in the league, while the rest have moved on to do other things with their lives. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the biggest names from this game, along with where they are today.
The Patriots entered the game as seven-point favorites after finishing the regular season 14-2 and steamrolling through the playoffs, stomping the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers by a combined score of 61-30.
The Eagles went 13-3 and had a similarly dominant playoff run, dispatching the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons without much trouble. In a funny case of history repeating itself, those were the same teams the Eagles beat in the 2018 playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest story of this game was the status of Terrell Owens, who suffered a serious injury against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. Owens got his leg awkwardly pinned when Roy Williams dragged him down on a horse-collar tackle, which led to the NFL banning the move. He suffered a fractured fibula and sprained ankle, requiring surgery in the process.
In most cases this would be a season-ending injury, but when the Eagles made the Super Bowl, Owens came back much quicker than he probably should have to play in the game. He delivered a heroic effort with nine catches for 122 yards, a performance that could’ve won him MVP had the Eagles pulled off the win.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles drew first blood when Donovan McNabb hit L.J. Smith for a 6-yard touchdown. Tom Brady answered with a 4-yard strike to David Givens near the end of the half, and the teams went into the locker room tied 7-7.
In the third quarter, Bill Belichick broke out one of his favorite goal line packages of the era — linebacker Mike Vrabel checking in as an eligible receiver. He caught a touchdown pass to take the lead, but Philly tied it up again when Brian Westbrook found the end zone.
The score was 14-14 entering the final quarter. The Patriots rattled off 10 unanswered points with a Corey Dillon score and Adam Vinatieri field goal. Down two possessions with 5:40 left, the Eagles needed a quick score. They eventually got one when McNabb hit Greg Lewis for a 30-yard touchdown, but took too much time off the clock (an Andy Reid special), and failed at an onside kick attempt with 1:55 to go.
Philly’s defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out, giving McNabb one final shot to win the game. Unfortunately, the offense was backed up at its own 4-yard line with 46 seconds left and no timeouts, leaving the Eagles in pure desperation mode. Three plays later, Rodney Harrison picked off McNabb to ice the game.
Brady had a solid performance, even if it wasn’t his most memorable Super Bowl game (236 yards, two touchdowns on 23-of-33 passing). Deion Branch took MVP honors with 11 catches for 133 yards.
McNabb finished with three touchdowns and 357 yards, but also threw three interceptions and faced the brunt of criticism for this loss — including a bizarre urban myth that he vomited in the huddle during the Eagles’ final drive.