The Philadelphia Eagles knocked on the door of a championship for years and never came through. After the Eagles made the playoffs for the first time under Andy Reid in 2000, it took four more years to finally reach the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens also took five years to reach the Super Bowl under John Harbaugh, yet unlike Reid and Philadelphia, their waiting paid off on Feb. 3.
The Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers by 34-31 and won a long overdue Lombardi Trophy. They weren’t as overdue as the Eagles from a decade ago, who lost three straight conference title games from 2002 to 2004 and then lost the Super Bowl the next year. In contrast, the Ravens merely lost two conference title games in 2009 and 2012, before winning the AFC and the Super Bowl this year.
Reid had five cracks at a Super Bowl title in the early stages of his career, just like Harbaugh did. However, the Eagles lost them all and the Ravens looked certain to do the same, until a series of miracles broke their way this postseason.
Donovan McNabb failed time and again to give Reid and the Eagles a championship, yet Joe Flacco finally came through for the Ravens. Brian Dawkins couldn’t lead Philadelphia’s defense to a ring in his prime, yet Ray Lewis and Ed Reed powered Baltimore’s defense to a title in their final shot. And while Reid came up short over and over again for the Eagles, his former protégé Harbaugh did one better.
Reid had to endure a 5-11 campaign in his first season back in 1999, before giving the Eagles at least one playoff win over the next five years. However, Harbaugh went to the AFC title game right off the bat in his first season in 2008, and won at least one playoff game in his first five seasons -- which now includes one Super Bowl.
After the 2005 Super Bowl, the Eagles only got one more shot at a championship over the next seven years. This could be a harbinger of things to come for Harbaugh and the Ravens, especially with Lewis retiring and Reed to perhaps follow.
But just because the Eagles collapsed after five straight years with a playoff win, it doesn’t mean the Ravens will. Since Baltimore finally broke through in its run and Philadelphia didn’t, Harbaugh has already defied history.