Today is my 30th straight Eagles season opener. That's 16 wins and 13 losses.
Not to mention 661 opening day points, 522 opening day points allowed, 159 punts, 205 penalties, 78 sacks and 93 sacks allowed.
The Eagles' leading opening-day rusher over the last 30 years? LeSean McCoy, with 571 yards in six openers.
Leading receiver? Duce Staley has the most catches with 31 in seven openers. DeSean Jackson the most yards with 428. Brian Westbrook the most touchdowns with four.
Leading passer? Donovan McNabb, naturally, with 2,327 yards, 20 TDs and 10 interceptions and an 86.2 passer rating
Wes Hopkins has a team-high four interceptions in the last 30 openers, Trent Cole the most sacks with 7 ½ in 10 openers.
And David Akers is the Eagles' leading scorer on opening day since 1988 with 70 points in 12 openers.
With all that in mind, here are my top 10 personal opening day memories since that first opener in Tampa back in 1988.
1. The Onside Kick
Eagles 41, Cowboys 14, Texas Stadium, Sept. 3, 2000
Andy Reid had been plotting it for weeks. If the Eagles lost the coin toss, they were going to open the season with an onside kick. In the famed Pickle Juice game, Akers' game-opening kick took the Cowboys completely by surprise. Dameane Douglas recovered, the Eagles marched down the field and scored on McNabb's one-yard TD pass to Jeff Thomason and not only went on to rout the Cowboys, but they went on to go 11-5 and really announce their arrival as one of the NFL's elite teams.
2. T.O. Goes to Work
Eagles 31, Giants 17, Lincoln Financial Field, Sept. 12, 2004
All Terrell Owens did in his first regular-season game as an Eagle was catch three touchdown passes from McNabb as the Eagles clobbered their division rivals and set the tone for their Super Bowl season. To put T.O.'s performance in perspective, only three wide receivers have had three TD catches on opening day in the 12 ensuing seasons (Plaxico Burress in 2007, Hakeem Nicks in 2010 and Victor Cruz in 2013). Owens went on to catch a franchise-record 14 touchdown passes as the Eagles went 13-1 to clinch the No. 1 seed and sweep through the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville.
3. Our first look at Chip
Eagles 33, Redskins 27, FedEx Field, Sept. 9, 2013
Before he became the guy who tore up the roster and was fired before even completing his third season, Chip Kelly was an offensive genius. At least we thought so for a little while. Our first glimpse of Kelly's offense was a Monday night season-opener in Washington, when the Eagles, led by Michael Vick, Shady and DeSean, scored 33 points in a 26-minute span to take a 33-7 lead over the Redskins before hanging on late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles operated at such an insanely fast pace to open the game they ran 53 plays just in the first half! The Eagles piled up 322 yards before halftime - which turned out to be the most a Chip Kelly team ever netted in a first half. In his first game, no less. And DeSean and LeSean were both over 100 yards in the second quarter. It wasn't sustainable. Especially after Chip gutted the roster. But for about a year and a half, it sure was fun.
4. Total Domination
Eagles 38, Panthers 10, Sept. 13, 2009, Bank of America Stadium
This all happened: Victor Abiamiri returned a Jake Delhomme fumble two yards for a touchdown, DeSean had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and McNabb threw touchdown passes to Brent Celek and Westbrook. One other thing: that all happened in the second quarter. The Eagles spotted the Panthers an early 7-0 in the 2009 opener, then scored 31 consecutive points, including 28 in the second quarter - tied for the second-most points the Eagles have ever scored in any quarter. They scored those 28 points in 11 minutes, 36 seconds. Remember, the Panthers were coming off a 12-4 season and had allowed only 14 points per game at home in 2008. The Eagles doubled that. In one quarter.
5. McNabb Goes Wild
Eagles 38, Rams 3, Sept. 7, 2008, Lincoln Financial Field
This game had everything. A 90-yard touchdown catch by Hank Baskett. A touchdown run by Tony Hunt (who had only 14 career carries). It had Greg Lewis's only 100-yard game. The Eagles recorded their most lopsided season-opening win in franchise history to open their last NFC Championship Game season. McNabb was brilliant in this one, completing 21 of 33 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns before letting Kevin Kolb finish (and throw for 53 more yards). And three Eagles went over 100 yards - Baskett, Lewis and DeSean. With their 35-point win over the Rams in 2008 and their 28-point win over the Panthers a year later, the Eagles became only the ninth team in NFL history to win consecutive openers by 28 or more points.
6. Introducing Carson Wentz
Eagles 29, Browns 10, Sept. 11, 2016, Lincoln Financial Field
Eight days after being promoted from No. 3 to the starter, Carson Wentz began his NFL career with a 75-yard touchdown drive that he capped with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews. Wentz went on to complete 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. With help from Matthews (7 grabs for 114 yards) and Ryan Mathews (77 rushing yards) and a defense that held the Browns to 107 yards and three points in the second half, the Eagles began the Wentz Era with an easy win over RG3 and the Browns. Wentz's 101.0 passer rating made him only the 13th rookie in NFL history to record a passer rating over 100 on opening day of his rookie year.
7. Down Goes Randall
Eagles 20, Packers 3, Sept. 1, 1991, Lambeau Field
On the first play of the second quarter, Randall Cunningham's 10th snap of the season, Bryce Paup went low at Randall Cunningham as he released a pass intended for Fred Barnett. Cunningham didn't get up. He was later diagnosed with two torn ligaments in his left knee and a year after his MVP season, Cunningham was finished after just four passes. One-time Super Bowl hero Jim McMahon, who had thrown only nine passes the year before, replaced Cunningham and threw touchdown passes to Keith Byars and Fred Barnett as the Eagles began life after Randall. The Eagles wound up using five QBs that year - Jeff Kemp, Brad Goebel and Pat Ryan also played - and despite going 10-6 with one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, they failed to reach the playoffs. The Eagles allowed just 222 yards per game that year, fewest in NFL history in a 16-game season.
8. A Force To Be Reckoned With
Eagles 41, Buccaneers 14, Sept. 4, 1988, Tampa Stadium
To understand how big the 1988 opener was, you have to remember the Eagles were coming off SIX straight losing seasons as they began Buddy Ryan's third year as head coach. But they went into Tampa and destroyed Vinny Testaverde and the Bucs, taking a 27-0 lead at halftime on the way to a lopsided win. That 27-point lead is the fourth-largest opening day halftime lead in NFL history. Randall threw first-quarter TD passes to Mike Quick and Kenny Jackson and later ran for another touchdown, and the Eagles also scored on a fake punt when safety Terry Hoage ran 38 yards for a touchdown. Hoage's 38 career rushing yards are sixth-most in NFL history by players with one career rushing attempt. Hoage also had two of the Eagles' five interceptions. Hopkins, Seth Joyner and Eric Allen also had picks. And, yes, Hoage is the only player in NFL history with two interceptions and a rushing TD in the same game (four others had one INT and a TD run).
9. Safe Harbor
Eagles 17, Browns 16, Sept. 9, 2012, Cleveland Browns Stadium
It was an ugly game in an ugly season. Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden combined for eight interceptions in the 2012 opener, and after a miserable season, Reid was fired (as was Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who became offensive coordinator for Kelly, Reid's successor). But the ending on opening day was sure thrilling. The Eagles trailed the hapless Browns 16-10 when they took over with a 1st-and-10 on their own 9-yard-line with 6:25 left. Vick, who struggled all day, finally warmed up, and drove the Eagles into Browns territory. With the help of a McCoy three-yard run on 4th-and-1, the Eagles got down to the Browns' 4-yard-line with 1:23 left and faced a 3rd-and-4. That's when Vick competed a four-yard TD pass to tight end Clay Harbor, only his third TD in 26 career games up to that point. Harbor scored with 1:18 left in the game, making this the Eagles' latest game-winning go-ahead touchdown since 2003, when McNabb connected with Todd Pinkston on a game-winner with 32 seconds left against the Packers.
10. Historic comeback vs. the Jags
Eagles 34, Jaguars 17, Sept. 7, 2014, Lincoln Financial Field
The Eagles were getting ripped apart by Chad Henne. Think about that for a while. At halftime in the 2014 season opener, Henne was 12 for 17 for 167 yards and two touchdowns, Nick Foles was 12 for 24 for 139 yards with no TDs and an interception and the Jaguars had outgained the Eagles 188-129 and outscored them 17-0. The second half? All Eagles. The Eagles outscored the Jaguars 34-0 in the second half and outgained them 291-118. Henne was just 12 for 36 for 99 yards, Foles was 15 for 21 for 183 yards with two TDs and no INTs and the Eagles turned a 17-point deficit into a 17-point win. Thus the Eagles became only the second team in NFL history to trail by at least 17 at halftime and win by 17 or more. (The other came in 2010, when the Bengals were up 31-14 at halftime but the Bills came back to beat them 49-31.)
Roob's Top 10 Opening Day Moments: Wentz, T.O. Debuts, Pickle Juice Game
Today is my 30th straight Eagles season opener. That's 16 wins and 13 losses.