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The Eagles actively pursued premier wide receiver Terrell Owens, and acquired him in a controversial three-way deal with the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, on March 16, 2004. Owens would often feud with McNabb, and was released by the Eagles after the 2005 season.
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The 2004 season started out great as Owens caught 3 touchdown passes from McNabb in their season opener against the New York Giants. Owens would end up with 1,200 receiving yards and fouteen touchdown receptions, although his season ended early with an ankle injury on against the Dallas Cowboys. Their 12-7 victory in this game gave them home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs for the third year in a row. The Eagles tied a record by clinching the NFC East division. After their eleventh game of the season, matching the mark set by the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1997 San Francisco 49ers. Their final two regular-season games thus became meaningless. They then began their playoff run with the Divisional round at home against the 6th seeded Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles led from the start and never looked back, as McNabb led a very efficient passing game, Brian Westbrook dominated on the ground with 70 rushing yards, and Freddie Mitchell performed very well on the receiving end, as Philadelphia won 27-14, setting up their fourth-straight NFC Championship appearance.
The Eagles’ futility in Conference Championship games had become notorious. In 2002, the Eagles had fallen in the NFC Championship Game against the Rams in St. Louis, 29-24. In 2003, the Eagles hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Veterans Stadium and were widely viewed as the overwhelming favorites—this view no doubt accentuated by the expected emotional boost that many anticipated would power the team, given that the game was to be the last at “the Vet.” After a promising start, however, the game slipped away, and the ensuing 27-10 loss devastated a fan base that had already become too accustomed to disappointment. In 2004, a banged-up Eagles squad managed to overcome numerous injuries, particularly to its defense, to reach the NFC Championship for the third year in a row, only to suffer a heartbreaking 14-3 loss against the Carolina Panthers.