Eagles safety and future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins came in with his right shoulder and blasted Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler so violently that he sent the 265-pound Crumpler flying through the air. Crumpler landed motionless in a pile at the 10-yard-line, and Dawkins stomped around triumphantly, looking like some sort of prehistoric warrior celebrating the kill.
Crumpler somehow held onto the ball but had to be helped off the field. Although he did eventually return to the game, he didn’t catch another pass.
“Dawk didn’t just hit him, he exploded into him,” cornerback Lito Sheppard said. “If I hit a guy that size, I’d probably just go backward.”
The Falcons scored on the next play when Warrick Dunn ran in from 10 yards out. That made it 14-10. But the tone had been set. The Falcons had a touchdown but the Eagles had command of the game.
Of all Dawkins’ massive hits, the one on Crumpler was the biggest. And the most important. It helped send the Eagles to their only Super Bowl in the last 35 years.
The Falcons never recovered. They managed just 69 yards and no points on their six drives after Dawkins’ hit on Crumpler, and the Eagles won 27-10.