The Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants rivalry, which dates back to 1933, renews during NFL Week 12 at MetLife Stadium. And it’s beyond special.
It contains an abundance of nerve-wracking, white-knuckle finishes, game-ending plays dubbed miracles and post-season berths altered by them.
Yes, the Eagles lead the series 89-87-2. Plus, they have enjoyed the longest win streak, at 12, from 1975-81. And yes, a litany of marquee stars has appeared in what NFL Films calls the league’s No. 1 rivalry.
But this piece details improbable moments so memorable they live outside the realm of who played on what team and when.
I call them Shock Doctors. Five incredible, unlikely developments that live on in the hearts of Eagles and Giants fans. Four occurred on the final play to change and decide games. The other is a rare two-part administrative broadside that fuels the intensity for this week’s matchup.
But before they take the field Sunday at 1 p.m., here’s a look back at top-five moments in the storied Eagles-Giants rivalry.
5. Modern mayhem: Double dose of the burn
If we look back at the 2020 NFL season, many would agree the Eagles poured gasoline on the rivalry fire twice.
First, they sat Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of their final regular-season game, enabling the Washington Football Team to gain 20-14 win and the NFC East title.
The Giants would have won the crown if the Eagles beat Washington and were livid that their hopes rested on the immortal Nate Sudfeld. Relieving Hurts, Sudfeld promptly lost a fumble and threw an interception.
Accusations that the Eagles tanked the game streamed across Twitter from North Jersey.
Three months later, the Eagles singed the Giants again. They traded with the Dallas Cowboys to go from 12th to 10th in the draft, leap-frogging the Giants at 11 to get Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
But the Eagles did an administrative end-around. And the Giants were again livid.
Instead of grabbing Smith, they traded down with the Chicago Bears and picked up Kadarius Toney with the 20th selection
Barring injuries, both Smith and Toney will be on the field Sunday. Their intertwined fate is the latest in a long list of strange collisions between the two storied teams.
4. Jake Elliot kicks the Eagles into high gear
This one takes us back to Sept. 24, 2017.
The importance of Jake Elliott’s 61-yard, game-winning field goal against the Giants has grown over time.
It launched a nine-game win streak that vaulted the Birds into the playoffs, and ultimately their first and only Super Bowl title.
This kick, which Jake snaked inside the left upright, was a record for a for a rookie kicker. It remains the Eagles’ franchise record.
But there’s another element to this: the Giants’ clock mismanagement.
Elliott tied game with a 46-yard field goal with 51 seconds to go.
The Giants should have had the ball until the end. What happened? They kept the clock alive, taking a timeout trying to get upfield. Then came an offensive penalty, a stalled drive and a short punt.
With just seven seconds to go, Carson Wentz was in his own territory. Overtime loomed. How does he then complete a 19-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery, who then gets out of bounds? Everybody in the stadium and watching on television knew it would be a bomb or an out pattern.
Somehow, Jeffrey reached the sideline just in time. And Elliott beat the Giants on the improbable boot.
The Giants, via the timeout and by letting Jeffrey get out of bounds, kept the clock alive long enough for the Eagles to stun them.
3. Happy 10th Miracle anniversary
Eagles and Giants fans are extremely familiar with the Miracle at the Meadowlands moments. There are so many to talk about that they are the theme for the remaining three slots on this list. Let’s go back to Nov. 20, 1988 – the 10th anniversary weekend of the first miracle (highlighted below).
It was overtime. Eagles kicker Luis Zendejas attempted a game-winning field goal.
The Giants blocked it and dodged a bullet. But who was there to scoop it up? Clyde Simmons, who took it in for a score and a 23-17 triumph. Yes, a defensive end running in a touchdown from a blocked field goal against his offense. Happens all the time.
Hollywood could not have even conceived this.
Both teams finished 10-6. The Eagles reached the postseason, losing to the Chicago Bears in the Fog Bowl. The Giants were 10-6 and sat home.
It would be easy to label this game as the reason why. But on the last week of the season, the Giants had a playoff spot until they were beaten by the New York Jets.
2. Miracle at the Meadowlands 2 impacts postseason spots
On Dec. 19, 2010, the Eagles trailed 31-10 midway through the fourth quarter in a matchup of 9-4 teams. It looked over. But the Giants opened the door. They allowed a successful onside kick when the Eagles trailed 31-17, part of a disaster of three touchdowns yielded in six minutes.
With the game tied, the Giants had to punt with 14 seconds to go. It was a line drive to DeSean Jackson. He dropped it, picked it up and raced 67 yards to paydirt on the final play, capping Philadelphia’s unlikely triumph.
As he streaked toward the end zone, Merrill Reese called it “the most memorable win I have ever seen.”
High praise coming from the Eagles’ play-by-play voice since 1977.
As Eagles fans celebrated the 38-31 win, Giants fans wondered why Matt Dodge did not simply punt that ball out of bounds and go to overtime.
Impact: The Eagles finished 10-6 and did make the postseason, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers. The Giants finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs, because of this game. Talk about a big play.
1. The first Eagles Giants Miracle at the Meadowlands
When talking about Miracle at the Meadowlands moments, it’s hard to forget about Nov.19, 1978.
This is the first date of the first Miracle.
The gold standard for the word dagger. It is such a definitive moment that NFL Films calls it the third-worst play in league history.
The Giants led 17-12 in the final seconds of a game both teams needed to reach the playoffs. The Giants had the ball. The Eagles had no timeouts.
“All Joe Pisarcik has to do is fall on the ball and there is nothing the Eagles can do,” Reese said.
Well, the Giants did it for them. Pisarcik handed off to running back Larry Csonka, the Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphin-turned-New York Giant.
But even the future Hall of Famer could not carry the ball on his hip, which is where Pisarcik placed it. The ball came loose, bounced fortuitously right to Herman Edwards and he ran into the end zone to seal the 19-17 steal.
In Philadelphia, there was euphoria. In New York, grown men cried. Giants’ offensive coordinator Bob Gibson was fired the next day. The Giants cleaned house on the coaching staff after the season.
What it meant for the NFL: the birth of victory formation at the end of games.
What it meant for Gibson: a bitter departure from football. He never worked in the NFL again and refused to talk about the play.
What it meant for the teams: The Eagles finished 9-7 and made the playoffs, losing in the first round to the Atlanta Falcons. The Giants, 5-6 at the time of this game, finished 6-10.
For Eagles fans, these memories are rich.
Which game will create the next crazy finish?
AP Photo/Kathy Willens