Eagles vs. Patriots Superbowl rematch: What has changed since 2005

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is congratulated by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb after the Patriots won 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is congratulated by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb after the Patriots won 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Perhaps you heard the news already: The Philadelphia Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl after their Sunday night win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Once there, they’ll face familiar foes, the New England Patriots.

Thirteen years ago, the Patriots defeated the last Eagles team to make it this far, winning 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX (Super Bowl 39 for those who haven’t mastered Roman numerals).

Since then, New England has appeared in four more Super Bowls and captured two more titles, including last year’s crown.

Philadelphians are still waiting for their first Super Bowl title. To get it, they’ll have to best a team responsible for one of their biggest heartbreaks.

If you’re trying to get caught up on all the trauma and drama, let’s take a quick trip back in time to February 2005.

A trip back in time

George W. Bush had just started his second term as President. Gas ran about $1.91 a gallon. And the top movie in America was “Boogeyman,” a horror flick about a man facing his childhood fears (rather appropriate given the Eagles’ position today).

The Eagles marched into the Super Bowl after beating the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons, the same two teams they’ve beaten so far in this year’s playoffs. The Eagles finished the regular season 13-3 and earned the top seed in the NFC playoffs, same as this year’s team. And the Eagles were set to face the defending champion New England Patriots, just as they are this time around.

Other than that, though, things were pretty darn different for the Birds.

On defense, the Eagles were led by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and legendary safety Brian Dawkins. Their offensive stars were quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook, and wide receiver Terrell Owens.

None of those players are still in the NFL, let alone on the Eagles.

Owens suffered a late-season injury and missed the NFC playoffs. Few knew what to expect from him when the big game arrived, but Owens posted huge numbers. McNabb, on the other hand, threw a trio of interceptions and was later criticized for allegedly throwing up in the huddle as the Eagles hustled to make a comeback.

Philadelphia did pull close at the end, but New England picked McNabb off in the final seconds for a three-point win.

It’s safe to say Philly fans still remember the occasion:

There aren’t many Patriots leftover from that last Super Bowl confrontation with Philly, but there are three pretty important ones still hanging around.

Bob Kraft still owns the team. Head coach Bill Belichick still runs the team. And the seemingly ageless Tom Brady is still the team’s quarterback.

That trio won the title last year with an historic comeback over the Atlanta Falcons, and if they beat the Eagles in Minneapolis, it will be their sixth title together.

So what should Philadelphia expect this time around?

Old foe, new outcome?

For the third time in as many playoff games, the Eagles will almost certainly be an underdog when the big game kicks off on February 4. Philadelphia lost its starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, late in the season. Few thought the Eagles could rebound from such a crushing injury.

Eagles players and fans have embraced their longshot status, but Vegas oddsmakers don’t share that enthusiasm. New England opened as 5.5-point favorites, making Philly the biggest Super Bowl underdog in almost a decade.

Both teams finished the regular season 13-3. The Patriots won their first playoff game fairly easily over the Tennessee Titans before winning a squeaker Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Eagles survived a close game in their first playoff matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, but crushed the Minnesota Vikings to earn their rematch against the hated Pats.

Can an upstart Eagles team conquer the franchise’s boogeymen and deliver the city to sports paradise? At this point, Eagles fans are ready to believe.

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