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Sports Then and Now

New Giants’ Home, Same Old Eagles’ Miracles

Posted on December 19, 2010 by Dean Hybl

DeSean Jackson completed the latest Philadelphia Eagles comeback win over the New York Giants with a 65-yard punt return.

The game may not have been played at the original Meadowlands, but the shocking late rally on Sunday afternoon by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles over the New York Giants proves that the new Meadowlands still is a place where the Eagles can perform miracles.

After taking a 24-3 halftime edge and scoring a touchdown to take a 31-10 lead with 8:43 remaining in the game, it looked like the Giants would make their first game against the Eagles in the new stadium a statement victory.

However, anyone who ever saw Eagles-Giants games at the old Meadowlands knows that when the Eagles come to visit strange things can happen.

Michael Vick tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another in just over six minutes of game time to tie the contest at 31-31 with 1:24 remaining.

The Giants had one final chance, but were unable to move the ball and punted to the Eagles with 14 seconds remaining.

It looked like overtime was inevitable, especially when punt returner DeSean Jackson mishandled the line-drive punt from rookie Matt Dodge. However, Jackson instead became the latest Eagle to break the hearts of Giants fans with an electrifying 65-yard return to complete the comeback and give Philadelphia the inside edge to winning the NFC East.

It is the most recent in a series of Philadelphia miracles that began with the original “Miracle at the Meadowlands” on November 19, 1978. In that game, the Giants led 17-6 entering the fourth quarter and had the ball and a 17-12 lead in the final minute.

Needing simply to take a knee and run out the clock, quarterback Joe Pisarcik instead tried to hand the ball off to Larry Csonka. The ball fell to the turf and bounced nicely into the hands of Herm Edwards, who took it 26 yards for the game winning score.

The 1978 touchdown by Herm Edwards was the original Miracle at the Meadowlands.

The Eagles actually won the first six games between the two squads at the original Meadowlands and were 20-16 against the Giants during the history of the stadium.

In addition to the original miracle, the Eagles found other unusual ways to defeat the Giants.

Ten years after Edwards’ touchdown, the Eagles and Giants were in overtime when it looked like the Giants had dodged a bullet by blocking a field goal attempt by Luis Zendejas. However, the ball bounced directly to Clyde Simmons, who caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and rambled into the end zone to give Philadelphia the victory.

Just one year later, the Giants rallied from an early deficit to tie the game at 17-17. After stopping the Eagles deep in their own territory in the fourth quarter it looked like New York would get great field position. However, from his own end zone, Randall Cunningham boomed a 91-yard punt to completely turn the game around.

Two plays later the Eagles sacked Phil Simms and Mike Pitts recovered the fumble to set up the winning score in a 24-17 Philadelphia victory.

Another Philadelphia miracle that included a late punt return occurred in 2003 when Brian Westbrook returned a punt 84 yards with just over a minute remaining to give Philadelphia a 14-10 victory.

While it is Jackson’s punt return that will likely be the lasting memory from the first meeting between the Giants and Eagles at the new Meadowlands, the real story is the fourth quarter comeback and collapse.

After Eli Manning tossed his fourth touchdown of the game to give the Giants the 21 point edge, the Eagles suddenly sensed the urgency and completely changed the complexion of the contest.

First came a 65-yard touchdown pass from Vick to Brent Celek with 7:28 remaining.

Knowing they still needed two scores, the Eagles gambled on an onside kick that when it was successful had to get Giants fans starting to think about their past failures.

Sure enough, Vick and the Eagles needed just two minutes to drive down for a touchdown to make it 31-24 with 5:28 remaining.

The Giants actually did just about exactly what they could have wanted on their next drive as they produced a pair of first downs that forced the Eagles to use all their timeouts. They ultimately pinned the Eagles deep in their territory needing to drive 88 yards with only three minutes and no timeouts.

After not having a sustained drive all day, Vick and the Eagles somehow managed to go those 88 yards in just eight plays while taking just 1:45 off the clock.

That left Manning and the Giants one final chance, but a pair of incomplete passes and then a sack led to the final punt and the latest Eagles miracle.

Both teams still have big games left this season, but when the epitaph is written on the 2010 season it seems likely that fans of both the Giants and Eagles will point to this game as one of the defining moments of the season.

The game will also forever go down in Eagles-Giants lore as the day the Eagles christened the new Meadowlands with another improbable victory.

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