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For a decade and a half in the '60s and '70s, the Eagles were an organization left for dead, a perennial loser. The Steelers became a dynasty, arguably the greatest team to ever play the game.
In the '80s, fortunes dramatically changed. By the end of the decade, Pittsburgh reached its lowest point since Chuck Noll became coach in 1969, finishing 5-11. In Philly, Randall Cunningham was electrifying the league, redefining the perimeters that defined "quarterbacking," and leading the Eagles to a winning record.
In his second consecutive great season, Cunningham and crew went to the playoffs, only to get screwed... Isn't that what fans in Philly call it?... by a thick fog at Soldier Stadium. The Bears won the "Fog Bowl" 20-12 in a game that was never technically seen.
On November 13, 1988, the Eagles won a supremely entertaining back-and-forth contest. The Steelers loss gave them a tie for the worst record in the NFL at 2-9, a time that Steel City fans would surely rather forget. In this game, if not for a few mental mistakes, Pittsburgh would have likely beaten the playoff-bound Eagles.
In the early going, it appeared the Steelers would stun the home crowd with a great performance. Taking a handoff from Bubby Brister, receiver Louis Lipps fired a 13-yard dart into the end zone for a touchdown to running back Merrill Hoge, and Pittsburgh led 10-0.
After Philadelphia cut the lead to 10-7, the Steelers drove again. That's when the slew of little mistakes that took defeat from the jaws of victory began.
ERROR ONE: Weegie Thompson (raise your hand if you remember him... um, anyone?) pulled out his finest Limas Sweed impression, snagging a touchdown pass—eh, never mind... he dropped it! Instead of seven points and a double-digit lead, the Steelers settled for a Gary Anderson field goal.
ERROR TWO: Cunningham and the Eagles were unable to respond, or at least it initially appeared so. Tim Johnson sacked the elusive passer (or, is it runner?) on 3rd-and-10. However, defensive end Aaron Jones smacked Eagles' tackle Ron Heller on the helmet. The personal foul gave the Eagles new life.
Philadelphia responded with a Cunningham scramble (It is runner!) around the right end, giving them a 14-13 lead.
Gary Anderson's second field goal gave Pittsburgh a halftime lead. After falling behind 17-16, Pittsburgh celebrated as Louis Lipps took part in a second touchdown, an 89-yard gamebreaker from Brister.
ERROR THREE: Ahead 23-17, the Steelers defense appeared to make a fantastic stop to start the fourth quarter. Randall Cunningham was nailed by Greg Lloyd on a fierce pass rush, and Rod Woodson intercepted the football deep in Pittsburgh territory. However, Lloyd's collision was head-first with the quarterback and, more importantly at the time, came after he released the ball.
The result was a first down, and Cunningham's second rushing touchdown came right up the gut. The Eagles led 24-23.
Again, Gary Anderson answered with a field goal, and Pittsburgh led at the two-minute warning 26-24. Yet, we all know how things tend to go for teams that forgo touchdowns for field goals.
On the game's final drive, a win or lose possession for the Eagles, Philly faced 3rd-and-10 at midfield. Randall Cunningham floated a pass down the sideline to Cris Carter. Yes, that Cris Carter, of future Vikings fame!
ERROR FOUR: Defensive back Lupe Sanchez was in great position to defend the play and he came up from his zone spot for what appeared a clear would-be interception. Then, he tripped and fell over... nothing!
Though he had position on Carter, Sanchez's slip left the receiver wide open, and Carter snagged the pass at the eight-yard line. The play set up the winning field-goal attempt, and Luis Zendejas kicked the pigskin between the pylong for a 26-24 Eagles win.