TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With his Philadelphia Eagles mired in an eight-game skid, coach Andy Reid sure could do without being reminded of one of the most disappointing losses of his career. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Eagles in the NFC title game 10 seasons ago, and the Jon Gruden-led club that went on to win the franchise's only Super Bowl championship. Those players will be honored Sunday when Reid brings his struggling team to town hoping to ruin the party at Raymond James Stadium.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With his Philadelphia Eagles mired in an eight-game skid, coach Andy Reid sure could do without being reminded of one of the most disappointing losses of his career.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Eagles in the NFC title game 10 seasons ago, and the Jon Gruden-led club that went on to win the franchise's only Super Bowl championship. Those players will be honored Sunday when Reid brings his struggling team to town hoping to ruin the party at Raymond James Stadium.
Ronde Barber is the only player remaining from that Tampa Bay roster who's still playing in the NFL. His fourth-quarter interception and 92-yard return for a touchdown clinched a 27-10 victory, a play Reid remembers all too well.
"Yeah, 200-Jet-All-Omaha. He got us. He picked it and took it the distance," Reid recalled. "He was a heck of a player then, and still a heck of a player."
The 37-year-old Barber has made the transition from cornerback to safety this season, his 16th in the league.
Back in 2002, the five-time Pro Bowl selection was a key player but easily overshadowed on a team featuring higher-profile stars such as Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Simeon Rice on defense, and Keyshawn Johnson and Brad Johnson on offense.
"He's switched positions, which is really a tribute to his ability to adapt to a position, just being a football player. I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for Jon Gruden. He's a good friend, and I'm happy for him," Reid said.
"I can't tell you I'm excited to see that whole group again. Every time I see John Lynch I get upset. But he's also a great person, a great kid."
The Eagles (3-9) have won six NFC titles and appeared in five conference title games in 14 years under Reid. But the final football game played in Veterans Stadium is a loss that still gnaws at the coach.
Philadelphia's longest losing streak in 42 years has assured the club will finish below .500 for only the third time in Reid's tenure, and also could wind up costing him his job.
"When you're two months without a win in Philadelphia, it seems like a long time — and it is a long time. So, what you try to do is try to focus in on getting better as a football team. I've appreciated our guys' attitude throughout this, working hard. That includes practice, meetings and so on. I think that's important," Reid said.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing in the National Football League. It's never as good as you think and never as bad as you think. These guys are all phenomenal athletes and there are good coaches in this league," he added. "So it's just a matter of getting yourself on a roll and get going."
With Michael Vick still sidelined by a concussion, Reid has selected rookie Nick Foles as his starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
The third-round draft pick threw for 251 yards and one TD without an interception in last week's 38-33 loss to Dallas. This week he'll face a defense that's ranked No. 1 against the run but is yielding a league-high 309.4 yards passing.
While Barber leads the Bucs with four interceptions, suspensions and injuries have left the team with a mostly inexperienced secondary that includes a pair of rookies, one an undrafted free agent.
Still, Foles isn't taking anything for granted.
The Bucs (6-6) turned their season around following a 2-4 start. One of the keys to a four-game winning streak that helped them climb into playoff contention was an ability to force timely turnovers that the Josh Freeman-led offense converted into points.
"They're a very talented group. You've got Barber back there, who's been in the league for a very long time and has been an outstanding player, and a very strong D-line," Foles said.
And Tampa Bay isn't looking at the inexperience of Foles, who's started three games while Vick has been out, and feeling it has an advantage.
"He's done some good things. He did really good things against Dallas Sunday night," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "We need to make sure we do good things. That's more important."
The NFC title contest isn't the only time the Eagles have been scorched by Barber, who has three interceptions — returning all of them for scores — in his last four games against Philadelphia. Surprisingly, the only player in NFL history with more than 40 interceptions and 25 sacks insists he doesn't remember every detail of the play that silenced the crowd at the Vet and sealed a trip to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay's playoffs ended in Philadelphia the two previous years, leading to the firing or Tony Dungy and a blockbuster trade that brought Gruden to the Bucs from the Oakland Raiders before the 2002 season.
"There's nothing magical about it. ... The enormity of the moment didn't hit me until later," Barber said. "I do remember the quiet and I remember the guy in the right corner of the end zone that was talking trash before the game. I wanted to run right to him, but I didn't."
Gruden and most members of the 2002 team are expected to be in town for dinner Saturday night and will be recognized during a halftime ceremony. Lynch is part of the television crew broadcasting the game.
Barber, whose trophy case includes a piece of the Veterans Stadium turf taped to the ball he returned for the clinching score, will take in as much of the fun as possible.
"Unfortunately I won't get to enjoy as much as the other guys, but it'll be a great moment," he said. "I've got work to do."
From the opposing sideline, Reid will remember but not fret.
"They had a good football team. They beat us fair and square," Reid said. "You wish it wouldn't have happened, but it did. I'm glad they have a chance to honor that group."