As I mentioned two weeks ago before the Colts game, when the Eagles face a non-NFC East opponent, we will try to do a history esque lesson reflecting back on a previous matchup between the two teams.
Ideally we would go further back than three years ago for this feature, but today’s game reminds me a lot of a 2011 matchup, only the roles flipped completely upside down here.
Allow me to refresh your memory, and you can decide on your own if you see such parallels.
The date was October 2 (another Week 4 game), and the 49ers came to Philadelphia with a surprising 2-1 record. The Eagles entered on a two-game losing streak at 1-2 but were still a home favorite and perceived to be the better team.
They had the more established coach albeit similar to Jim Harbaugh now, some questioned if Andy Reid was losing his grip on the team at the time. They also had the more accomplished quarterback in Michael Vick, and most figured it was a game set up for the Eagles to win and get back to .500 at 2-2.
Early on, it seemed like things would follow that exact script. The Eagles jumped out to a 23-3 lead. An inexplicable lateral near the goal line by running back Ronnie Brown would cost them points, but everything was still going well.
Alex Smith found Josh Morgan for a 30-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to 23-10. It was thought to be a relatively harmless touchdown pass at the time, but Vick and the Eagles went three and out. The 49ers scored again, and all of a sudden, a 23-3 lead was now 23-17 with 20 minutes still to play.
The Eagles looked prime to respond on their next drive and make it a two-possession game again, but rookie kicker Alex Henery missed a 39-yard field goal wide right three plays into the fourth quarter.
Juan Castillo’s defense was able to force a punt, and with less than seven minutes to go, Henery had a chance at redemption from 33 yards.
He missed again.
This time, Alex Smith and the 49ers would take advantage of a golden opportunity. Frank Gore capped off an eight-play drive with a rushing touchdown from 12 yards out. Former Eagles kicker David Akers nailed the extra point, and Lincoln Financial Field was in a state of shock.
The Eagles still had time and were actually moving the ball, but Justin Smith forced a Jeremy Maclin fumble on the edge of field goal range in Niners territory that was recovered by Dashon Goldson. A slim chance still existed, but Frank Gore was able to run for two first downs to salt away the clock.
Andy Reid’s squad would lose a game at Buffalo before it won again and would never completely recover from the 1-4 start, finishing the season 8-8. The 49ers would not lose again until Thanksgiving night as they advanced all the way to the NFC Championship game.
A box score from the game is here. A screenshot of the scoring summary and video highlights are embedded below.
The 49ers broke the Eagles will that afternoon, and today, the Eagles have a chance to do the exact same thing in San Francisco at the newly opened Levi’s Stadium.
They come in rolling while the 49ers are reeling after losing two straight. They have a better kicker now and a hot shot coach making waves throughout the league.
Everything feels so eerily familiar. All that’s needed is an Eagles victory to flip the script as part of the sequel.