5 Most Memorable Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants Moments
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Can you feel the excitement?!
No? Can't say I blame you.
In a season that's gone south in a hurry for two NFC East franchises filled with decades of pride and tradition, it's tough to find reasons to anticipate this upcoming showdown in the longstanding rivalry.
However, I'll attempt to come up with a few:
- If When the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Denver Broncos on Sunday and if the Eagles win, they will be somehow tied for first place. If the Giants prevail, they are somehow just one game out with many more to play. (Hope springs eternal in the worst division in sports!)
- With two of the worst defenses in the league squaring up against each other, gamblers are scrambling to their bookies to bet the over and fantasy. Nerds such as myself are making sure their Birds and G-Men players are in the starting lineup in this likely barnburner. And who doesn't like a lot of scoring anyway?
- Because memorable things tend to happen when these two teams play—especially on the Giants' home turf.
And although the Giants boast bragging rights by leading the all-time series 84-76-2, it's the guys in green who come out on top in contests that will stand the test of time.
Here's the top five...
(Note: not only do each of these memorable moments take place on the Giants' field, but note the uncanny similarities with the dates.)
No. 5: B-West's Return—Oct. 19, 2003
Fresh off two consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances, it was Super Bowl or bust for the Eagles. However, frustration was mounting as they brought a 2-3 record into the Meadowlands. The Giants were also 2-3, putting any hopes of a postseason on the line for both squads in this matchup.
Most of the game reeked of ugliness and, although the Giants dominated in every facet of the game, they couldn't capitalize on a number of opportunities and were ahead just 10-7 with only 1:34 to play. However, considering that Donovan McNabb was playing arguably the worst game of his career (9-of-23, 64 yards), the lead still seemed safe.
Brian Westbrook picks up a wobbling, bouncing Jeff Feagles punt on his 16-yard line and takes it to the house.
The Eagles go on a run toward their third straight conference championship game (and third straight title game defeat).
Final Score: Eagles 14, Giants 10
No. 4: Simmons Scores on a Blocked Kick—Nov. 20, 1988
The post-Dick Vermeil years had not been kind to Philly, who had six straight losing seasons heading into the 1988 campaign. However, at 6-5, Buddy Ryan's up-and-coming Eagles were just a game behind the 7-4 Giants heading down the final stretch.
In a game full of strange bounces (earlier, Cris Carter recovered a Keith Jackson fumble into the end zone for a touchdown with less than five minutes left in regulation to send the game into overtime), the even-stranger ending was fitting: Lining up to kick a 31-yard field goal to win it, Luis Zendejas' kick was blocked by Lawrence Taylor.
Crisis averted, right?
Well, it turns out All-Pro Defensive End Clyde Simmons—for some reason playing offensive line for the kick attempt—picked up the ricochet and ran it in. Game. Set. Match.
Dubbed by some as Miracle At The Meadowlands II, the Eagles would win four of their last five games to win their first division title in eight years, leading up to another memorable game: The Fog Bowl against the Chicago Bears in that year's playoffs.
Final Score: Eagles 23, Giants 17 (OT)
No. 3: The Miracle at the Meadowlands—Nov. 19, 1978
For most of the 1970s, these proud franchises were two of the biggest laughingstocks in the league.
But after nearly a decade-and-a-half of ineptitude, the Eagles were once again relevant, as Dick Vermeil, Ron Jaworski and crew were leading the franchise into a new era of winning ways and man cries.
Heading into this matchup, Philly was 6-5, New York was 5-6. Although in third and fourth place respectively, a win here would keep one of them in the NFC wild-card race. The Giants, who got off to a favorable 5-3 start, were looking to stop the bleeding. The Eagles, winners of two in a row, were looking to build upon newfound momentum.
The G-Men shot out of the gate, getting off to an early 14-0 lead and maintaining a 17-6 advantage heading into the final quarter. The Eagles mounted a comeback of sorts, bringing the score to 17-12 and even had a chance to take the lead late in the game, but an Odis McKinney interception with less than two minutes left and no Eagle timeouts seemed to seal Philly's fate.
The impossible happened. And Herm Edwards? Well, he played to win the game. (I'd hate to have been a Giants fan who happily headed out to the parking lot before the Giants tried running out the clock and the craziness ensued.)
The two teams continued to head in opposite directions for the rest of the season, with the Eagles reaching the playoffs for the first time in 18 years and the Giants finishing 6-10. However, the next 30 years or so would prove to be much more fortuitous for the latter squad than for the former.
Final Score: Eagles 19, Giants 17.
No. 2: The New Miracle at the New Meadowlands—Dec. 19, 2010
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Once again, the Eagles visited North Jersey to face the Giants—this time, in their new stadium—a game behind New York for the division lead with just four games left to play. Eli Manning and crew were sitting pretty at 9-3 and were thoroughly spanking the Birds throughout the contest. They were up by 21 on two different occasions, including 31-10 with 8:17 left to play.
And then the tables turned.
On their next possession, Michael Vick hit Brent Celek, who rumbled 65 yards for a score. Riley Cooper then recovered the ensuing onside kick (with just 10 men on the field). Two runs later by Vick (including a 37-yard scamper), and it was now 31-24 with 5:28 to go.
The Giants were able to move the ball into Eagles territory (but just outside of field-goal range) on their next possession, forcing them to use all three of their timeouts. The Giants punted and Eagles returner Jeremy Maclin made a fair catch on Philadelphia's own 12-yard line with 3:01 left.
Vick then put the team on his back and with a couple more gutsy scrambles, he drove the offense the length of the field, hitting Maclin on a game-tying TD pass with 1:16 to go.
So either the G-Men were going to win it on the final drive or send it into OT, right?
Tom Coughlin decided he was going to do everything possible to not let that happen, and after two incomplete passes and a Trevor Laws sack, it was up to punter Matt Dodge, with just 12 seconds left in regulation, to simply punt it anywhere that DeSean Jackson wasn't.
In April of this year, it was voted the greatest play of all time by NFL.com readers. That might be a reach, but it was certainly the most exciting quarter of football I personally have ever witnessed. Both teams would fizzle out the rest of the season, though the Eagles would leapfrog the Giants and back into the playoffs, losing to the eventual Super Bowl champ Green Bay Packers.
Final Score: Eagles 38, Giants 31
No. 1: Bednarik Knocks out Gifford: Nov. 20, 1960
It may not have led to anything miraculous, but it was simply the most memorable play in one of the most memorable seasons in Eagles history. (I'm guessing, since I wasn't alive.)
Rolling through the 1960 season at 7-1, the Eagles were still just a game ahead of the Giants and set to face them in back-to-back weeks. Down 10-7 heading into the final quarter, the Eagles kicked a field-goal and scored on a 38-yard fumble return by Jimmy Carr. The Giants still had one last chance on their final possession, trailing 17-10.
A vicious blow by Chuck Bednarik not only put an end to the Giants' comeback efforts, but it interrupted Frank Gifford's career for 18 months.
It was one of the most famous hits—resulting in one of the most famous photos—in NFL history. It also helped propel the Eagles to an eventual NFL championship. And 53 years later, the wait for another title continues.
Final Score: Eagles 17, Giants 10.