4th and 26

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Posted: July 2, 2017


On January 11, 2004 during an NFL playoffs game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles pulled off one of the most memorable plays to help them triumph 17-20 over the Packers. The Packers had a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter with the Eagles facing a fourth-and-26 in their own territory. The Packers were well poised to win the game, needing only a stop to run down the clock. However, the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb was able to complete a 28-yard pass to Freddie Mitchell giving Philadelphia another chance at the downs. The Eagles tied the game and sent it into overtime where they won with a field goal. The famous play is known simply as the “4th and 26,” and is brought up every time that the two teams meet.

Buildup to the 4th and 26

The first quarter of the game, played at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, belonged to the Packers, who opened a 14-0 lead through two touchdowns by Robert Ferguson. In the second quarter, quarterback Donovan McNabb, who was culpable for some of the Eagles’ defensive lapses in the first quarter completed five successive passes to gain 77 yards for the Eagles. The last of these was a 7-yard touchdown pass to Duce Staley to give Philadelphia their first points of the game. A green pay drive on the ensuing kickoff was snuffed out on fourth down giving possession back to the Eagles. The rest of the second quarter and most of the third went on uneventfully. Late in the quarter, McNabb came to life again, completing four successful passes and rushing 37 yards to gain 72 yards for the Eagles, a move that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Todd Pinkston. With the scores now tied, the Packers went on the offensive in search of the lead and Ryan Longwell hit a 21-yard field goal to hand them a 17-14 lead.

The 4th and 26 Unfolds

With just 1: 12 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Eagles still trailing and having used all their timeouts, they found themselves with a fourth down and 26 yards. The Eagles called the “74 Double Go”, a play that involved wide receiver Freddie Mitchell taking a slant route. Mitchell’s route took him into a pocket of space in the Packers’ secondary and McNabb found him with an inch perfect 28-yard pass. The play was aided by some questionable defensive setup from the Packers who according to experts should have waited for Mitchell in front of the first down marker. Two Packers defenders tackled Mitchell but the Eagles had earned a first down, which allowed them another go at the Packers. From the resulting play, David Aker scored a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17.

Aftermath of the 4th and 26

The game went into overtime, and was won by the Eagles, when Brian Dawkins intercepted a pass from Brett Favre before returning it 35 yards where Akers made another field goal. The Eagles won 20-17 to set up a tie with the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game. The Panthers won the game, ending the Eagles’ season. The game has remained a hot factor for the Packers and Eagles rivalry, with the Eagles often trolling the Packers using the 4th and 26 during their subsequent meetings.

The 4th and 26 Unfolds

With just 1: 12 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Eagles still trailing and having used all their timeouts, they found themselves with a fourth down and 26 yards. The Eagles called the “74 Double Go”, a play that involved wide receiver Freddie Mitchell taking a slant route. Mitchell’s route took him into a pocket of space in the Packers’ secondary and McNabb found him with an inch perfect 28-yard pass. The play was aided by some questionable defensive setup from the Packers who according to experts should have waited for Mitchell in front of the first down marker. Two Packers defenders tackled Mitchell but the Eagles had earned a first down, which allowed them another go at the Packers. From the resulting play, David Aker scored a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17.

Aftermath of the 4th and 26

The game went into overtime, and was won by the Eagles, when Brian Dawkins intercepted a pass from Brett Favre before returning it 35 yards where Akers made another field goal. The Eagles won 20-17 to set up a tie with the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game. The Panthers won the game, ending the Eagles’ season. The game has remained a hot factor for the Packers and Eagles rivalry, with the Eagles often trolling the Packers using the 4th and 26 during their subsequent meetings.

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