10 Greatest Moments in Philadelphia Eagles History
The Philadelphia Eagles last won an NFL championship in 1960. But every September I still hope that this will be the year they do it again. And with the great crop of rookies the Eagles have assembled this year, maybe it will be. I keep hoping that one year I will be able to attend an Eagles' ticker-tape Super Bowl victory parade down Broad Street.
The earliest memory of my childhood is waking up as a little kid on Christmas Day 1960 and opening a little plastic box as the last gift under the Christmas tree. In that box were tickets for my Dad and I to attend the NFL Championship Game at Franklin Field the very next day.
I can remember my mother making us hot chocolate and putting it in a thermos. I can remember taking the bus that the local barber shop ran to the game. I can remember as a little kid fearing that I would never get the feeling back in my toes and fingers. I can remember adults standing in front of me so I had to stand up on the seat so I could see Ted Dean take the opening kickoff. And I can remember Chuck Bednarik making the last tackle of the game.
Twenty years later I was going through a very rough time in my life and I was suffering a bout of depression. But it was the hope that the Eagles had a shot at the Super Bowl that season that kept me going. And they did go to the Super Bowl that year.
Some years I have checked out on the Flyers or Sixers, but never the Eagles. You see, even if we go 2-14, it is still a great year if those two wins come against the Giants. We used to have the same feeling about the Cowboys when they were America's Team. But with only one playoff victory in the last 14 years, Dallas has not been worthy of too much emotion lately.
While there have been disappointments along the way, I won't discuss them in this article. There will be no balanced journalistic discussion here. Clearly, I am writing this from the heart as a fan.
This article will review the ten greatest moments of Eagles history. Please take a trip with me back on memory lane and enjoy them. I watched all ten of these moments, several of them live in the bitter cold.
This is why my winter coat is an Eagles varsity jacket.
This is why I wear an Eagles tie to the office after we beat the Giants, as we always seem to do.
This is why I am part of a group that Forbes magazine has called the "most die-hard football fans."
This is why Fly Eagles Fly is the ringtone on my iPhone.
This is why I am so grateful to be able to write about the Eagles here on Bleacher Report and have Eagles badges on my profile.
This is why I have the audio file of Merrill Reese's call of the DeSean Jackson punt return stored on four different devices.
This is why I have the TV version of the DeSean Jackson punt return stored on my iPad.
This is why my family knows not to even think about asking me to do anything with them when the Eagles game is on.
This is why an otherwise serious, mostly stoical, grown man shouts and jumps for glee every time we beat the Giants, and has a childish temper tantrum when we lose a close game.
This is why I sing the fight song when we score a touchdown, even if I am watching the game alone.
This is why I bleed green.
Fly Eagles Fly !
No. 10: The Hit
The date was November 20, 1960.
The Eagles were playing the defending Eastern Conference champs, the New York Giants, at Giants stadium. Entering the game the Eagles were 6-1 and the Giants were 5-1-1. The winner of the game would have the inside track to the championship game.
The Eagles were leading the Giants 17-10 but the Giants were driving to tie the score. Charlie Connerly threw a short pass to halfback Frank Gifford, who hauled it in and turned to run upfield.
But just as he turned, Chuck Bednarik leveled him with what has been called, "The Hit." The Eagles recovered the fumble, won the important game, and went on to win the NFC Championship.
Unfortunately, Gifford missed not only the rest of the season but all of the next season as well. When he did return, he was no longer a running back, but a wide receiver instead.
No. 9: 4th and 26
The date was January 11, 2004.
The Eagles were facing the Packers at home in a playoff game. The Packers had a 17-14 lead with a minute left in the game. The Eagles faced an impossible fourth down with 26 yards to go for a first down. Well, maybe it was no so impossible.
This pass from Donovan McNabb to Freddy Mitchell kept the drive alive. David Akers kicked a 37-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Then he kicked a 31-yarder to win it.
No. 8: Thanksgiving Day Massacre
The date was November 23, 1989.
The Eagles played the Cowboys, America's Team, on Thanksgiving day on national TV.
The Eagles had 381 yards of offense to the Cowboys 191 and 22 first downs to their 10. The result was a 27-0 trouncing.
This was the best Turkey Day I ever had.
No. 7: Closing Down Giants Stadium
The date was January 11, 2009.
The Eagles had managed to slip into the playoffs with a wild card spot. They had won the wild card game and now had to play the defending Super Bowl Champs, the New York Giants, in the next round.
The day was brutally cold. I know since I was there. I had on so many layers of clothes it was nearly impossible to move in them all. I even had on a facemask, two hats, and a hood. I took a train to the game, got there an hour before kickoff and just walked around in circles in the stadium to try to keep warm.
The Eagles' defense dominated the day. The Giants only scored on three field goals and a safety. The Eagles won the game 23-11.
In the fourth quarter after a scramble for a first down, Donovan McNabb ended up on the Giants' sidelines, where he picked up headphones and tried to call the Giants' coaching staff upstairs. He was hit with a penalty for his antics, but it had no impact.
As the Giants fans left early to escape the bitter cold, we Eagle fans hung around and kept singing Fly Eagles Fly until we got hoarse.
No. 6: Brian Westbrook Punt Return
The date was October 19, 2003.
In this one, the Eagles trailed the Giants 10-7 with a minute and a half left in the game. The Giants punted to Brian Westbrook and he took over from there.
This game turned the Eagles' season around and they went on to play in the NFC Championship game.
No. 5: Miracle at the Meadowlands
The date was November 19, 1978.
Joe Pisarcik just needed to take a knee to run out the clock. But for some reason, he decided to try to hand the ball off to Larry Csonka. Why? I guess we will never know.
Herm Edwards picked up the fumble, and the Eagles snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
When you watch the video, notice that they were already rolling the credits since the game was almost over. This game helped the Eagles make the playoffs with a wild card spot.
Are you noticing a trend of how many of these great moments were against the Giants? This is why we look forward to playing the Giants every season.
No. 4: DJax Punt Return
The date was December 19, 2010.
The Eagles trailed the Giants 31-10 with a little over eight minutes left in the game. The Eagles made a strong rally and managed to tie the score at 31.
With 14 seconds left in the game, the Giants were forced to punt. Tom Coughlin instructed his punter Matt Dodge to kick the ball out of bounds, but Dodge had a better idea. He punted a low line drive to DeSean Jackson who took it to the house with a 65-yard touchdown run.
While you are watching this video, watch the block that Jason Avant put on Zak DeOssie, the long snapper. The collision was so violent that Avant suffered a concussion on the play.
Then be sure to watch Tom Coughlin throw down his play list and run on the field to chew out Dodge. Priceless! It just doesn't get any better than this.
No. 3: Winning the NFC Championship Game
The date was January 23, 2005.
The opposing quarterback was Michael Vick. The Eagles sacked him four times. Tight end Chad Lewis, from Fort Dix, NJ, scored two touchdowns and David Akers kicked two field goals.
After several practice runs, the Eagles finally won the NFC Championship and were headed to the Super Bowl.
No. 2: Defeating the Cowboys in NFC Championship Game
The date was January 11, 1981.
The Eagles played the Cowboys at the Vet for the NFC Championship.
Ron Jaworski had an atrocious day passing. But fortunately Willie Montgomery had a great day rushing, with 194 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys helped the cause by fumbling the ball over to the Eagles three times.
When Montgomery hit the hole to the right, Eagle fans knew that our first Super Bowl appearance was at hand.
Watch the video and listen to Merrill Reese's call of the the touchdown.
No. 1: Chuck Bednarik Tackling Jim Taylor
The date was December 26, 1960.
In the NFL Championship game at Franklin Field, Chuck Bednarik never left the field. He played center on offense and middle linebacker on defense. So it was perfect that Bednarik made the final tackle to win the game.
The Packers got off to an early 6-0 lead on two field goals from Paul Hornung. The lead changed hands several times until a short touchdown run by Ted Dean gave the Eagles a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Packers were driving for the winning score as time wound down. From the Eagles 22-yard line, Bart Star dropped back to pass. He checked off with a short pass to Jim Taylor since the other receivers were covered. Bednarik brought him down on the 9-yard line.
More importantly, he would not let Taylor get off the ground to go back and lineup so the Packers could run one more play. The clock ran out and the Eagles were the champions.
For history buffs, this was the only time that Vince Lombardi ever lost a championship game, and of course, the last time the Eagles won the league championship.
It is only fitting the we began and ended this review with plays made by Bednarik, the greatest Eagle of all time.
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