Giants vs. Eagles: Big Blue and the Birds
The rivalry between the Giants and the Eagles is one of the longest and most passionate in the NFL. It goes back a long way—beginning in 1933—and has only gotten better with age.
Because the Giants and Eagles have always played in the same division (with a brief exception after NFL expansion in the late 1960s), the schedule has featured a home-and-home series between them for decades. The Giants and Eagles have also met four times in the playoffs. Throughout this long history, both teams have had exhilarating wins and crushing losses that have intensified the rivalry.
The Giants and the Eagles have rivalries with other teams too, but Eagles vs. Giants is the big one. For Giants fans like myself, the Eagles have always been the team we love to hate. And even though Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” I am pretty sure Eagles fans feel the same way.
This article traces the history of the Giants–Eagles rivalry and highlights some of the memorable games and notable moments along the way.
The Rivalry Begins: 1933–34
The Giants were fairly successful on the field from the time they began play in the NFL in 1925. They won the 1927 NFL Championship and had winning records in six of their first eight seasons.
From 1924 to 1931, Philadelphia was represented in the NFL by the Frankford Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship and had five winning seasons out of their first six, but the franchise went bankrupt and folded in 1931.
The NFL wanted a team in Philadelphia to replace the Yellow Jackets. After searching for suitable owners, in 1933 they awarded a franchise to a syndicate led by college coaches Bert Bell (who was friendly with several NFL owners) and Lud Wray. Wray became the first head coach of the Eagles.
The NFL had always awarded the league title to the team with the best winning percentage during the season. But in 1932, the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans tied for first place. In order to determine the champion, the league held a playoff game. Football fans liked the idea.
1933: The Expansion Eagles Join the NFL
In order to accommodate a championship game, the league changed its format for the 1933 season. It admitted three new expansion franchises: the Eagles, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. It also split the league into two divisions, Eastern and Western, with the NFL Championship to be determined by a playoff game between the two division winners.
The Eagles joined the Eastern Division, along with the Giants, the Pirates, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Redskins. The Giants already had a local rival in the nearby Dodgers, but Philadelphia, only about 80 miles away and the second-largest city on the East Coast, was a natural rival too.
The stage was set. But it would be up to the Giants and the Eagles themselves—along with their fans—to make the competition between the two teams into a true rivalry.
October 1933: A Blowout to Begin the Rivalry
The Giants played the Eagles for the first time on October 15, 1933, before 18,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Not only was it the first game of the rivalry, but it was the first NFL game that the expansion Eagles ever played.
The game was a mismatch on paper and a mismatch on the field. Giants player-coach Steve Owen, a future Hall of Famer, had three other future Hall of Fame players on his roster. In addition to Owen at left tackle, the starting lineup included Ray Flaherty at left end, Mel Hein at center and Ken Strong at right halfback. The Giants’ quarterback was the highly touted rookie Harry Newman, who had been an All-American the previous year at The University of Michigan.
On the other side of the ball, Eagles coach Wray’s starting 11 featured five rookies. Only two players, linemen George Kenneally and Joe Carpe, had more than two years of NFL experience under their belts. This turned out to be quarterback Art Koeninger’s last game, while Carpe and rookie fullback Jody Whire each played in only one more game. Among the Eagles’ starters, only rookie right end Joe Carter went on to enjoy a long and successful NFL career.
The start of the game was promising for the Eagles. On their first possession, they got two first downs and advanced to the Giants’ 30-yard line. But Hein intercepted a pass by Whire to stop the Eagles’ drive. Two plays later, Newman threw a 70-yard pass to fullback Hap Moran, including 47 yards by Moran after the catch, for the Giants’ first touchdown.
The interception and quick touchdown set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Eagles never seriously threatened again. The Giants scored two more touchdowns in the first quarter on a goal-line plunge by halfback Bo Molenda and a five-yard run by Strong. The Giants scored additional touchdowns in the second and third quarters and three more in the fourth quarter. Molenda and Kink Richards led the scoring for New York with two touchdowns each.
The final score was 56–0. The Philadelphia Inquirer said the “Quaker Birds” were “riddled by land and bombarded by air” by the “Ogres” from New York. Not mincing words, the paper characterized the game as a “massacre and slaughter.” It certainly didn’t seem like the start of much of a rivalry.
December 1933: A Thriller to End the Season
The Giants and Eagles met again on December 10, 1933, on the Eagles’ snow-covered home turf in Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl. It was the last regular-season game for both teams. The Giants had won their last six games and entered the game with a 10–3 record, in undisputed possession of first place in the Eastern Division. The Eagles, meanwhile, had done better than one might have expected after their first-game blowout loss to the Giants. They had compiled a 3-4-1 record going into the game, which was good enough for fourth place.
Unlike the first game, this one was a thriller. After a scoreless first quarter, the Giants scored first in the second quarter on a touchdown by Newman after a 44-yard drive. Two minutes into the second half, the Eagles came back to tie the score at seven on a forward-lateral pass play capped by quarterback Red Kirkman’s 54-yard run.
The Giants countered with a touchdown 10 minutes later after Butch Gibson recovered a fumble on the Eagles’ 26-yard line. But the Giants gave the Eagles a potential opening by missing the extra point attempt.
The missed extra point loomed large in the fourth quarter when Eagles fullback Swede Hanson scored on a thrilling run of 61 yards and Red Davis kicked the extra point for a 14–13 Eagles lead. But the euphoria was short-lived for Philadelphia fans. A few minutes later Richards caught a 20-yard pass from Newman and raced 40 yards for a touchdown. This time Newman’s extra point kick was good, sealing the Giants’ 20–14 victory.
With their fourth-place finish, the Eagles bested the other Eastern Division expansion club, the Pirates. The Giants finished with an 11–3 record to win the division. The following week, they faced the Western Division champion Bears in the first-ever NFL Championship Game but lost 23–21.
Despite the Eagles’ two losses to the Giants, the excitement of the December 10 game and the relative closeness of the score made it possible to believe that future showdowns between the teams could have the makings of a real rivalry.
1934: The Eagles Break Through
The Giants continued their winning ways against the Eagles in their first game of the 1934 season. On October 28, the last-place Eagles came into the Polo Grounds to face the division-leading Giants. Although the Eagles out-rushed and out-passed the Giants and scored more first downs, New York managed to blank the Birds 17–0 on scores by Ken Strong and “Wee Willie” Smith.
The return engagement in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park on December 2 was a low-scoring thriller. Despite some brilliant running for the Giants by Smith, the Eagles came away with a 6–0 victory on a touchdown by Jim Leonard.
The Eagles were in the win column. The rivalry was official.
Despite the Eagles’ win, there was no disputing that the Giants were the better team. The week after their loss to the Eagles, the Giants met the Bears for their second straight NFL Championship showdown. This time the Giants beat the Bears 30–13, scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the championship.
The Early Years: 1935 Through the ’40s
The Giants Dominate Through 1942
The Giants continued their winning ways, taking the Eastern Division Championship in 1935, 1939 and 1941, and winning the NFL Championship again in 1938.
The Eagles, meanwhile, had finished in third place in 1934, but over the next eight years, they finished last five times and fourth three times. This record of futility included three seasons in which they managed only one win.
Unfortunately for New York, the Eagles’ lone win in 1936 was a 10–7 victory over the Giants in their opening game, under new Eagles head coach Bert Bell. They went on to lose 11 in a row for a 1–11 season mark.
The Eagles’ third win against the Giants came in Philadelphia on September 25, 1938. It was one of only two losses that the Giants suffered en route to the NFL Championship that year. And when the Giants won the second meeting of the season, they began a streak of nine straight wins against the Eagles. Through the 1942 season, the Giants led the series against the Eagles 17–3.
The rivalry seemed to be on life support.
In fact, the Eagles franchise itself was on life support. In late 1940, Bell had worked out a complicated deal that resulted in the sale of the team to Alexis Thompson. Thompson hired Alfred “Greasy” Neale to replace Bell as the Eagles’ head coach. But the team continued to struggle in 1941 and 1942.
1943: The “Steagles” Beat the Giants
The Eagles, like other teams, lost numerous players to military service in World War II. The Eagles responded by merging with the Steelers to field a team nicknamed the “Steagles” for the 1943 season. This team split the season series with the Giants, beating the Giants 28–14 at Shibe Park for the first “Eagles” win against the Giants after nine straight losses. The game was notable for the fact that future Giants head coach Allie Sherman scored the final touchdown for the Steagles.
The Late ’40s: The Eagles Turn the Tide
The Eagles fielded their own team again in 1944 and began an upward trajectory. Led by future Hall of Fame halfback Steve Van Buren, the Eagles had the first winning season in their history in 1944 and came in second to the Giants. They finished second again in 1945 and 1946, then won the Eastern Division each of the next three years. The Eagles won their first NFL Championship in 1948, then won again in 1949.
The Giants–Eagles rivalry in the second half of the 1940s was consistent with the Eagles’ new overall success and a mirror image of the rivalry’s earlier years. Between 1944 and 1949, the Eagles dominated the rivalry with a record of 9-2-1. They got their first win in the Polo Grounds on October 29, 1944, when they held the Giants scoreless in the second half.
The Eagles closed out the 1940s with six straight wins, taking the season series 2–0 in 1947, 1948 and 1949. The worst loss for the Giants came in Philadelphia on October 10, 1948, when the Eagles crushed them 45–0. Veteran Eagles quarterback Tommy Thompson starred on offense, and the Eagles’ defense allowed the Giants to advance past midfield only twice all afternoon. The Eagles finally repaid the Giants for that first-game 56–0 loss in 1933.
The 1950s and ’60s
The Giants Build Their Series Lead
The Giants and Eagles played 38 games in the two decades from 1950 to 1969. There were ups and downs for both teams during this time. Each team won an NFL Championship, the Giants in 1956 and the Eagles in 1960. The Giants also reached but lost the championship game in five out of the six seasons from 1958 to 1963.
In terms of the rivalry, the Giants came out on top. Of the 18 seasons in which the teams played two games in a home and away series, the Giants won the series nine times, the Eagles won three times and the teams split the series six times. (In 1967 and again in 1969, the Eagles and Giants were placed in different divisions due to NFL expansion, so they played each other only once in those years.) Typically the splits represented wins on home turf for each team, but in 1952 the split was reversed, with the Giants beating the Eagles in Philadelphia and the Eagles returning the favor in New York. This “reverse split” would not happen again until 1975.
The total series record for the two decades was 25 wins for the Giants versus 13 for the Eagles. Cumulatively, the Giants padded their lead to a commanding 45-26-1.
For Giants fans, the two most memorable games during these decades occurred in 1950 and 1960.
1950: A Must-Win for First Place
For the 1950 season, the NFL Champion Eagles and the Giants were both placed in the new American Division, which was created after the NFL’s merger with the All-American Football Conference. The Giants won the first battle between the teams 7–3 at the Polo Grounds in late November.
Their second meeting was scheduled at Shibe Park on December 10 as the last game of the season for both teams. The Eagles entered the game with a 6–5 record and an opportunity to secure sole possession of third place in the Division. The Giants were tied for first with the Browns at 9–2 and faced a must-win situation to keep pace with Cleveland.
Played in the snow, the game was another low-scoring contest. After the Giants scored nine points in the first quarter on a field goal by inexperienced kicker Randy Clay and a touchdown pass from Charlie Conerly to Bob McChesney, their offense was stymied for the rest of the game. Fortunately for the Giants, their defense held the Eagles to seven points with timely tackles and timely interceptions.
The Giants’ win kept them in a tie for first, but they lost to the Browns in a playoff game the following week. The Eagles had to settle for a tie for third with the Steelers.
1960: “The Hit”
The Giants and Eagles played back-to-back games in late November 1960. The Giants lost both games of the series for the first time since 1949, but the first game had an especially devastating effect on the Giants and has long been remembered for “the Hit.”
The Giants were building a dynasty. After winning the 1956 NFL Championship, they had reached the championship game again in 1958 and 1959. Their roster was packed with great players, including four future Hall of Famers.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were on the rise. After finishing in a last-place tie in 1958, they had tied for second behind the Giants in 1959. They too had four future Hall of Famers on their roster. With a 6–1 record, they were in first place a half game ahead of the 5-1-1 Giants when they visited New York on November 20.
Football fans were excited about the matchup between the two best teams in the Eastern Division. The game attracted a capacity crowd of more than 63,000 to Yankee Stadium, with reports of 20,000 fans being turned away.
The game lived up to its billing. The Giants dominated the first half and built a 10–0 lead on a touchdown by Joe Morrison and a field goal by Pat Summerall. The Eagles came back to tie it on a touchdown pass from Norm Van Brocklin to Tommy McDonald and a field goal by Bobby Walston.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the scored tied at 10, the Giants were on the move, when fullback Mel Triplett fumbled the ball. The Eagles’ Jimmy Carr picked it up and ran 38 yards for what would be the winning touchdown.
But the Giants still had a chance. Deep in Eagles’ territory, halfback Frank Gifford caught a pass from quarterback George Shaw and cut inside. As Gifford reached the Eagles’ 10-yard line, veteran Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik hit him with a crushing blindside tackle. The ball was knocked loose and recovered by the Eagles. Bednarik was jubilant over the play because it ensured the Eagles’ win.
But Gifford was lying motionless on the ground. He was taken to the hospital with what proved to be an extremely severe concussion. Bednarik was distraught when he learned how seriously Gifford had been injured. Observers agreed that the hit was a clean play, and Gifford never held it against him. Both Gifford and Bednarik ended up in the Hall of Fame.
But the immediate aftermath of the play was devastating for Gifford and the Giants. Gifford was out for the rest of the season and all of 1961. And the demoralized Giants lost to Philadelphia again the following week. They finished the season in third place with a record of 6-4-2, while the Eagles won the division with a 10–2 record and went on to win the NFL Championship.
The 1970s Through the ’90s
The 1970 season was the first after the NFL’s merger with the AFL went into effect. The league was realigned with the expansion, and the Giants and Eagles were both assigned to the NFC East.
The teams met first in New York on October 11 in the fourth game of the season for each. Both teams were winless. When the Giants won, they began a six-game winning streak that put them into contention for the division lead. The Eagles continued to flounder, losing the next three games en route to a 3-10-1 season.
1970: Monday Night Football Debut
A high point for the Eagles came on Monday night, November 23, in the second game of the series at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. 1970 was the first season of the Monday Night Football television show on ABC. The network expected the Giants–Eagles matchup to be a big draw.
The TV audience, along with almost 60,000 fans at the stadium on a sub-freezing, windy night, saw an exciting game and a 23–20 win for the Eagles to even the season series. The Eagles took the lead for good at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and then quarterback Norm Snead controlled the ball for most of the period to prevent a Giants comeback.
The Giants lost ground in the standings, and despite going 3–1 the rest of the way, they had to settle for second place in the conference. The second-place finish was the Giants’ best showing of the 1970s, as they settled into mediocrity for the rest of the decade and failed to make the playoffs until 1981.
The Eagles did not fare much better than the Giants in the standings for most of the ‘70s, but they did take control of the rivalry. In the 12-year span from 1970 to 1981, the Eagles won 18 regular-season games against the Giants, versus five wins for New York and one tie. The Eagles’ dominance included a streak of 12 straight wins from 1975 to 1981. As a result, they narrowed the Giants’ overall lead in the series to 50-44-2.
Monday Night Football Match-Ups
Nov. 23, 1970
Oct. 2, 1972
Sept. 22, 1980
Oct. 10, 1988
Nov. 4, 1991
Oct. 22, 2000
Oct. 28, 2002
Oct. 19, 2015
Lincoln Financial Field
Dec. 9, 2019
Lincoln Financial Field
Eagles 23–17 (OT)
As the table shows, the Eagles own the rivalry on Monday Night Football. In nine Monday night games so far, the Eagles hold a commanding lead of eight wins versus one for the Giants.
1978: The Miracle at the Meadowlands (aka “the Fumble”)
One of the most memorable games in the entire Giants–Eagles rivalry occurred in the middle of this streak. In 1976, the Giants had opened the new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which was often referred to as “the Meadowlands.” On November 19, 1978, the Eagles visited Giants Stadium for the first game of the season series.
For Eagles fans, and NFL fans in general, this game became known as the “Miracle at the Meadowlands.” For Giants fans, it is remembered—infamously—as “The Fumble.”
The Giants opened an early 14–0 lead on touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Pisarcik to Bobby Hammond and Johnny Perkins. The Giants added a field goal by Joe Danelo, and the Eagles scored two touchdowns but missed the extra point on both. With less than four minutes left in the game, the Giants had the ball with a 17–12 lead.
Those last four minutes were filled with drama. With 3:22 left, Giants running back Doug Kotar fumbled the ball back to the Eagles on the Giants’ 33-yard line. But the Giants got the ball back two minutes later when defensive back Odis McKinney Jr. intercepted a tipped pass.
The win seemed secure. With 31 seconds left, the Giants had the ball on third down and two in their own territory. The Eagles had no more timeouts. All Pisarcik had to do was take a knee and let the clock wind down. Instead, he tried to hand the ball off to fullback Larry Csonka. The handoff was fumbled, and the ball bounced away. Philadelphia defensive back Herm Edwards picked it up and raced 26 yards for a touchdown with 20 seconds left.
The Eagles walked off with an unbelievable—and for the Giants, demoralizing—19–17 win. The Giants’ playoff hopes died, and they finished the season 6–10. Meanwhile, the Eagles went on to complete the season at 9–7 and earn a playoff berth for the first time since 1960.
Pisarcik was devastated by The Fumble. But the coaching staff had called the play and ordered Pisarcik not to change it. The Giants fired offensive coordinator Bob Gibson the next day.
Pisarcik had one more season with the Giants, and then, ironically, he moved on to the Eagles in 1980 as the backup quarterback. Pisarcik and Edwards were Eagles teammates for five seasons. But for Giants fans, The Fumble has lived on in infamy.
The 1981 Wild Card Game
After a 17-year drought, the Giants finally returned to the playoffs in 1981. The Eagles were back for the fourth straight year (having reached the Super Bowl the previous year). In 1981, both teams got in as Wild Cards. The Eagles finished second in the NFC East, one game ahead of the Giants. The teams had split the season series. On December 27, 1981, they met in a Wild Card game at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium.
The Eagles were favored, but the Giants led the entire game. They scored three touchdowns in the first quarter on two touchdown passes by quarterback Scott Brunner and a fumble recovery in the end zone by defensive back Mark Haynes. After the Eagles countered with a touchdown in the second quarter on a touchdown pass by Ronald “Jaws” Jaworski, the Giants scored on another Brunner pass to push the score to 27–7 at the half.
The Eagles scored twice in the second half on runs by Wilbert Montgomery, but two key fumbles by Wally Henry were costly. Giants running back Rob Carpenter led New York’s ground attack with 161 yards on 33 carries. With two minutes left in the game, he sealed the 27–21 victory with a 5-yard run for a first down that enabled the Giants to keep the ball and run out the clock.
1988: Overtime in the Rain
When the Giants hosted the Eagles in heavy rain at Giants Stadium on November 20, 1988, they were tied for first place in the NFC East with a 7–4 record. The Eagles, who had already beaten the Giants once in an October Monday night game at Veterans Stadium, were a game behind at 6–5. The game offered an opportunity for the favored Giants to solidify a playoff bid.
The teams matched scores in the first half. The Eagles got a touchdown on a one-yard run by quarterback Randall Cunningham. The Giants protested that linebacker Lawrence “L.T.” Taylor had blocked him short of the goal line, but the touchdown call stood. The Eagles added a field goal by Luis Zendejas. The Giants countered with a Phil Simms touchdown pass and a three-pointer by Paul McFadden, and took a 17–10 lead in the third quarter on a Simms pass to Stephen Baker.
The Eagles tied the game at 17 with a messy touchdown in the fourth quarter to set up overtime. Eagles wide receiver Chris Carter scored when he recovered a fumble by teammate Keith Jackson in the end zone.
In overtime, the Eagles advanced to the Giants’ 13-yard line and lined up for a field goal that would win the game. Taylor blocked the kick, but Clyde Simmons Jr. picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone, giving the Eagles a 23–17 win.
The Giants felt that the Eagles got all the breaks in the game, but the result was what mattered. And it definitely mattered. Although both teams finished the season with identical 10–6 marks, the Eagles won the division based on their sweep of the head-to-head matchups. The Giants lost out on the final Wild Card by losing the conference tiebreaker with the Rams.
In 1989 the Giants came out on top of the Eagles in the NFC East, winning the division with a 12–4 record while the Eagles took second place at 11–5. But the Eagles swept the season series with the Giants again, so the two games with the Eagles accounted for half of the Giants’ losses.
In 1990, the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV Championship year, each team won its respective home game. Then in every season for the rest of the ’90s, one of the teams swept the series, with the Eagles sweeping four times and the Giants five.
1999: An Overtime Interception
The Giants picked up one of their most memorable wins of the ’90s against the Eagles in the last game of the decade between the teams. On October 31, 1999, New York’s defense came through with several outstanding plays to lead the Giants to an exciting 23–17 overtime win at Veterans Stadium.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Giants trailing 17–10, tackle Christian Peter blocked an Eagles field goal attempt that would have put the Birds up by 10. A few minutes later, tackle Keith Hamilton knocked the ball loose from the Eagles on Philadelphia’s 5-yard line. The Giants recovered the fumble and scored a touchdown to tie the game with two minutes left.
Four minutes into overtime, Peter deflected a pass by Eagles quarterback Doug Pederson high into the air. Defensive end Michael Strahan caught the ball and ran 44 yards with it for a touchdown.
The thrilling win gave New York its third consecutive series sweep. As the 20th century came to a close, the Giants led the rivalry with the Eagles by an overall tally of 72-59-2.
The Rivalry in the 21st Century
The 2000 Divisional Playoff Game
In 2000, the Giants played the Eagles twice in the first half of the season and beat them by convincing margins both times, giving New York eight straight wins against Philadelphia.
The Giants won the NFC East with a 12–4 record, but the Eagles were having a good season too. With second-year quarterback Donovan McNabb starting regularly for the first time, the Eagles finished the regular season in second place at 11–5 and easily beat the Buccaneers in the NFC Wild Card game, setting up a showdown with the Giants.
The teams met in the Divisional Championship game on January 7, 2001, in Giants Stadium. The Giants fans in the record crowd of 78,765 would not be disappointed.
The game got off to a great start for “Big Blue” when rookie Ron Dixon returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown after only 17 seconds of play. Late in the first half, defensive back Jason Sehorn intercepted a McNabb pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. With a field goal for each team, the score at the half was 17–3. Brad Daluiso added another field goal for the Giants midway through the fourth quarter to make it 20–3.
The Giants’ defense successfully neutralized McNabb for most of the game. When he finally threw his first touchdown pass of the day, there were less than two minutes left in the game and the Giants had their ninth win in a row over the Eagles, 20–10. The Giants beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship game the next week before losing to the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.
The 2006 Wild Card Game
In the four seasons from 2001 to 2004, the Eagles won seven of the eight meetings with the Giants, as they made four consecutive trips to the playoffs, culminating in their appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Giants had losing records in three of those seasons, but earned a Wild Card spot in 2002. The Giants’ only win against the Eagles during those four years was in 2002—an overtime victory in the last game of the regular season.
In 2005, the Giants turned things around and beat the Eagles twice. They won the NFC East as the Eagles fell to last place.
In 2006, they split the regular-season series, with the Giants winning in Philadelphia and the Eagles getting the victory at Giants Stadium. Philadelphia won the NFC East with a 10–6 record and was awarded the No. 3 NFC seed in the playoffs. The Giants squeaked into the playoff mix as the No. 6 seed after finishing the season in third place with a .500 record.
On January 7, 2007, the Giants traveled to play the favored Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in the Wild Card game. The rivals treated their fans to an exciting game that went down to the wire.
Each team’s star running back delivered almost identical yardage. The Giants’ Tiki Barber, who was set to retire after the game, rushed for 137 yards and caught two passes for another 15 yards. Meanwhile, Brian Westbrook of the Eagles out-gained Barber by one yard with 141 yards rushing and two receptions for 12 yards.
Westbrook’s total included a 49-yard run for a touchdown, which tied the second-longest touchdown run in Eagles’ playoff history. The Eagles also scored on a touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to Donté Stallworth and field goals by David Akers.
For the Giants, Jay Feely kicked two field goals and quarterback Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress, the second coming with 5:08 to play in the game to tie the score at 20. But after the Giants’ kickoff, the Eagles put together a final drive that included four first downs. With just three seconds left on the clock, Akers kicked a 38-yard field goal for the Eagles’ 23–20 win.
The 2008 Divisional Playoff Game
The Giants and Eagles met again in the 2008 playoffs. They split the season series, with each team winning, as in 2006, on the other’s home turf. The Giants finished with a 12–4 record to win the NFC East and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, while the Eagles finished at 9-6-1 and picked up the second NFC Wild Card spot. The Eagles beat the Vikings in the Wild Card game to advance to play the Giants in the Divisional Playoff game at Giants Stadium on January 11, 2009.
The defending Super Bowl Champion Giants were favored, but it wasn’t their day. Although the Giants had led the NFL with 2,518 rushing yards during the regular season, the offense had difficulty getting untracked in this game. In all likelihood, the Giants missed Burress. Their star wide receiver had accidentally shot himself in the thigh on November 29, and the Giants had lost three out of five games after that, including the second game against the Eagles.
In any event, the Giants’ scoring was limited to three field goals by John Carney, along with a safety. Meanwhile, McNabb rushed for one touchdown and threw for another, and the Eagles added three field goals by Akers. The 23–11 final score put a damper on what had promised to be another great season for the Giants.
2010: The Miracle at the New Meadowlands (aka “the Punt Return”)
The Giants suffered another deflating loss to the Eagles in the second game of the 2010 season series. It may not have been as soul-crushing as The Fumble in 1978, but it was close.
Going into the first game of the series in Philadelphia in November, the teams were tied with 6–3 records. The Eagles won 27–17, pushing their record to 7–3 and dropping the Giants to 6–4. But when they met for the second game at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 19, both were again tied with 9–3 records. The NFC East title was on the line and the Giants were favored.
The Giants dominated the Eagles for most of the game. Manning threw four touchdown passes, and the Giants opened up a commanding 31–10 lead with eight minutes to play. Then Eagles quarterback Michael Vick went to work. In the space of seven minutes, he threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to even the score at 31 with one minute left.
The Giants failed to move the ball. With 14 seconds left, Matt Dodge punted from the Giants’ 29-yard line. Instead of going out of bounds as he intended, his 36-yard punt headed to the speedy DeSean Jackson. Jackson bobbled the ball but quickly recovered and ran it in for a touchdown. Akers kicked the extra point as time expired, giving the Eagles a stunning 38–31 victory.
The game was immediately dubbed “The Miracle at the New Meadowlands,” but for many Giants fans, it is just remembered as “The Punt Return.”
The Giants and Eagles both finished the season with 10–6 records. The Eagles won the division based on their head-to-head sweep of the Giants, and the Giants missed the playoffs.
2017: A Killer Field Goal
The Eagles have dominated the rivalry for most of the decade of the 2010s. Following the “Punt Return” game in 2010, the Eagles have gone on to win 14 games to the Giants’ four, with five season sweeps and four splits.
The most memorable game in this stretch—unfortunately, for the Giants—is probably the Eagles’ 27–24 win at Lincoln Financial Field on September 24, 2017.
The Eagles led 14–0 after three quarters. In the space of eight minutes after the opening of the fourth quarter, Manning threw two touchdown passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and a third to Sterling Shepard to give the Giants a 21–14 lead. The Eagles came back to tie it on a 15-yard run by Corey Clement, but the Giants recaptured the lead on a 41-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas with 3:11 left.
But the Eagles weren’t finished. Kicker Jake Elliott, substituting for the injured Caleb Sturgis, kicked a 46-yard field goal with 0:51 on the clock to tie it up again at 24–24. When the Giants got the ball back, their drive was halted by two penalties, and they were forced to punt with 0:19 left. At this point, both teams most likely expected the game to go into overtime. But Elliott came back in and, with one second on the clock, kicked a 61-yard field goal to win it for the Eagles.
Elliott’s kick was the longest field goal in Eagles’ history. The win marked the start of a nine-game winning streak for the Eagles, who finished the season at 13–3 and won their first Super Bowl. The Giants, by contrast, limped to a 3–13 record.
The Championship Tally
Super Bowl Championships
NFL Eastern Conference Championships
2018: The Equalizer
The Eagles and Giants entered the 2018 season with the Giants up by two wins in the overall series, leading 86-84-2. After 85 years, during which the Giants had always kept the overall upper hand that began with their 56–0 win in 1933, would the Eagles finally catch up in the 86th season of the rivalry? Yes, they would.
The Eagles put themselves in position by winning 34–13 at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night, October 11. The game was never really close. The Eagles’ win evened their record at 3–3 and dropped the Giants to 1–5. The writing seemed to be on the wall.
Sure enough, the Eagles got the equalizer with a 25–22 win at home on November 25. This one was close, and it was another heartbreaking loss for the Giants. Saquon Barkley, their electrifying rookie running back, scored two touchdowns, one on a pass from Manning and another on a 51-yard run. The Giants held the lead until the Eagles’ own rookie running back, Josh Adams, scored a touchdown with 10:11 on the clock to put the Eagles ahead 22–19. But the Giants came back less than five minutes later to tie it at 22 on Rosas’s third field goal of the game.
The Eagles countered with a long, clock-eating drive that took them to the Giants’ 25-yard line. The Giants knew that this put the Eagles within field goal range for Elliott, who had kicked the last-second 61-yarder to beat them in 2017. And true to form, Elliott kicked a 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left to give the Eagles the win.
At long last, the rivalry was all tied up at 86-86-2.
Looking to the Future
With their 23–17 overtime win on December 9, 2019, the Eagles took the lead in the overall series for the first time. As the Eagles currently lead 88-86-2, who can predict whether parity will persist in the rivalry, or whether one team will again build a commanding lead?
One thing is certain. The rivalry between the Giants and the Eagles will continue to provide great entertainment for their fans and generate intense passion on both sides.
Source : Sports IllustratedRead More
Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home
On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.
Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.
The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.
“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”
Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.
“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.
Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.
“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”
The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.
“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”
That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.
The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.
On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”
There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.
“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”
For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.
“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”
Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.
“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”
There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.
“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”
Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.
“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”
With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.
“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”
Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.
Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment
The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.
Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.
“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.
The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.
Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.
“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.
Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”
The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.
Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.
“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”
Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.
The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls
With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.
At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.
What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
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