Whoever said that numbers don’t lie is a liar.
Just look at the NFC Championship game’s box score.
On paper Donovan McNabb appears to have played great. Sunday he was 28 of 47 passing for a playoff career-high 375 yards and three touchdowns.
That sounds great.
No.5 looked like No.1 when you consider that he connected with Brent Celek a Philadelphia record 10 times for two touchdowns. The 32-year old also rediscovered his scrambling ability going for 31 yards while gaining two first downs.
Sounds even better.
In his fifth (perhaps final) NFC Championship game with the Eagles, McNabb appeared in the box score to play like a great quarterback. But, when the Arizona sandstorm settled D-Mac reconfirmed that he’s still only a good quarterback.
McNabb looked great on the stat sheet. In reality he was always a step, or throw behind.
In case you haven’t seen it on every news station’s headlines, every newspaper’s front page or in every Eagles fans eyes, Philadelphia will have to wait yet another year for that long overdue Super Bowl championship.
The team of destiny has once again succumbed to a cruel fate. A fate that has tarnished some of sports most successful franchises including the Atlanta Braves who went to nine National League Championships from 1991 to 2001 only to come away with the 1995 World Series Title or the Buffalo Bills who went to four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s only to come away empty handed.
The curse is successful failure -- always in the big games but without big results.
The Iggles are a part of that not-so-elite group.
And the man behind center is the epitome of great stats without the rings.
What the stats sheet leaves out is that McNabb looked horrible in the first half and as history has shown with No. 5, a slow start usually means another Philly disappointment.
Despite completing 57.8 percent of his first half passes Philly was held out of the endzone.
McNabb’s three touchdown passes in the second half put the Eagles into prime position for one of the greatest comebacks in conference championship history but the team of destiny had reached its final destination -- just one flight shy of Tampa.
McNabb’s miracle comeback fell just short -- like many of his passes. His name will now be synonymous with Buffalo’s Jim Kelly -- both unable to achieve championship glory despite lighting up stat sheets and fantasy scoreboards.
Blame the defense for the loss if you want. 32 points often won't get it done.
Once again the numbers lied. The No. 1 total defense (on paper) in the NFC looked good at times but not great.
Let’s face it, without the NFC’s best defensive unit that constantly saved the offense the Birds wouldn’t even be talking about the playoffs.
The defense last gave up 30-plus against Baltimore -- that day McNabb was benched for the first time in his career and since his return the following week against Arizona he looked like a man destined to change his legacy from good to great.
Destiny started with Arizona only to end with Arizona.
This time it was the offense that needed to bailout the city of Philly from another heartbreaker. Yet pass after pass was behind the receiver, too low for the receiver or like the Super Bowl, just out of reach.
McNabb doesn't seem to be going anywhere next season. He will still jog onto the field sporting No.5, except this time there won’t be the high expectations.
What will be lost is that there is no debate that he could be a big game quarterback. Plain and simple, McNabb can’t didn’t deliver when the team, the city and the fans need him the most.
It wasn’t his entire fault, blame whoever you’d like but when people think of this loss, they will think of D-Mac.
Andy Reid’s Eagles have sealed their fate and their legacy as a good not a great team.
Five NFC Championship games in eight years looks great on paper but it makes each loss hurt so much more in reality. Just ask an Eagles fan.