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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 04:09 GMT
Philadelphia and NFL's nearly men
By Alex Trickett

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl action
McNabb and team-mates fell at the final hurdle
Philadelphia fans saw improvement this season.

After four-straight years of trying, their team finally won an NFC Championship game, but they went on to lose narrowly to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Like it or loathe it, the Eagles have now joined a long list of nearly men, some of whom never made good despite almost dominating American football for several years.

OAKLAND RAIDERS - 1968-77

Possibly the most painful run in NFL history finally came to an end at Super Bowl XI when the Raiders beat fellow nearly-men Minnesota 32-14.

That win ended 10 years of torture for Oakland fans, starting with a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay in 1968 and also including six losses in eight years in the AFC Championship game.

Imagine the Raider Nation joy when cornerback Willie Brown put the seal on victory with a 75-yard interception return.

Verdict: Came good

MINNESOTA VIKINGS - 1974-77

The 1977 loss to Oakland capped a nightmare streak of three near-misses in four years for Vikings fans, who also missed out in Super Bowls VIII and IX, as well as in 1970.

Verdict: Still waiting

BUFFALO BILLS - 1991-94

If Minnesota thought that was bad, Buffalo went one worse in the 90s, losing four-consecutive Super Bowls.

Following the heartbreak of a one-point loss to the New York Giants, inspired running back Thurman Thomas and his Bills were beaten soundly on their next visits - twice to Dallas.

Verdict: Still waiting

DENVER BRONCOS - 1987-90

In an era of AFC whipping boys, Denver paved the way for Buffalo's losers by falling short in three quick-fire Super Bowls despite the efforts of adored quarterback John Elway.

But veteran Elway had his moment eight years later when he led the Broncos to back-to-back wins before retiring.

Verdict: Came good - eventually

CLEVELAND BROWNS - 1986-89

Incredibly, Cleveland lost to Denver in the AFC Championship game before each of their Super Bowl disasters.

Elway was usually the reason for this and, in 1986, engineered a 98-yard touchdown with only seconds remaining to force an overtime, which Denver won.

Known simply as "the drive", many fans still consider this series of plays one of the most impressive in NFL history.

Verdict: Still waiting

LOS ANGELES RAMS - 1974-1980

While in Los Angeles, the Rams tasted bitter defeat in four NFC Championship games before finally reaching the big one.

They went on to lose Super Bowl XIV 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose legendary quarterback Terry Bradshaw won a second MVP award.

Verdict: Only came good as the St Louis Rams



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