As Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson crossed the goal line with the game-winning touchdown against the New York Giants, visions of Herman Edwards must have been dancing through the heads of those in attendance at the new Meadowlands Stadium.
A little over 32 years ago, the former Eagles corner back recovered a fumbled hand-off between Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik and fullback Larry Csonka and ran it back 26 yards for a game-winning touchdown in the old Meadowlands Stadium.
The play came to be known as the 'Miracle at the Meadowlands' because it occurred at a juncture when the Giants were in complete command of the game.
With Philadelphia trailing 17-12 and out of timeouts, New York faced a third-and-two with 31 seconds left. Inexplicably though, Giants offensive coordinator Bob Gibson called for Pisarcik to hand it off to Csonka for a standard run up the middle.
However, vehement dissension in the huddle over the play call resulted in a rushed snap, a bobbled hand off and the eventual fumble that Edwards was only too happy to run back for a touchdown, giving the Eagles an improbable 19-17 victory.
Since that fateful afternoon of Nov. 19, 1978, it certainly appeared that the Giants buried the skeletons of that inexcusable collapse with three Super Bowl trophies and the grand opening of a $1.6 billion new stadium.
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But in Sunday’s afternoon tilt with the Eagles for NFC East supremacy, the Giants conjured up the spirits of collapses past by losing a game that will surely come to be known as the Miracle at the new Meadowlands.
After outgaining Philadelphia 222-74 to take a 24-3 lead into halftime, the G-Men were well on their way to debunking the widespread notion that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is unstoppable.
And with a 24-10 lead after the third quarter and a 31-10 advantage with 7:58 remaining in the game, the Giants had the most satisfying victory of the season within their clutches.
This is when the catalyst of the NFL’s top-ranked offense started to dissect the league’s second-ranked defensive unit with his left arm and his nimble feet.
In the final eight minutes of the contest alone, Vick threw two touchdown passes (65, 18), ran one in for a score (4) and rushed for nearly 100 yards, while turning a 21-point deficit into a tie game with 14 seconds left. The Giants’ offensive inefficiency and a successful Eagles’ onside kick didn’t hurt either.
So, after a one-minute three-and-out that netted -7 yards, all the Giants had to do was kick away from the dangerous DeSean Jackson and regroup for overtime.
Punter Matt Dodge did the exact opposite though, and channeled his inner Joe Pisarcik in the process.
Dodge drove a line drive right down the middle of the field, which Jackson initially bobbled before returning 65 yards for the game-winning score in the penultimate play of the game.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin wasted no time in berating his rookie punter for the gaffe, but let there be no doubt that the monumental collapse was a collective effort.
And, as a result, a new legend was born in this heated rivalry that the Eagles will always remember and the Giants would like to forget as soon as humanly possible.
Joe Pisarcik, you’re not alone.