Eagles vs. Giants brings forth memories of years past. Be it Miracle in the Meadowlands or a decade of black and blue Gladiator-fests through the 1980s and 1990s. Every time these two teams meet, there is venom and anger and pride but this time it is more than just a grudge match. The last time the Eagles and Giants played this late in the season, with this much at stake, with these sort of won-lost records, the coaches were Parcells and Buddy, the quarterbacks were Simms and Randall, and the defenses were anchored by Reggie and the original “L.T.” (Lawrence Taylor). Those two men have been dubbed the two greatest defensive players in NFL history.
The Eagles were 8-4 and the Giants 9-3 going into their game Dec. 3, 1989, at Giants Stadium. First-quarter TD by Andre Waters on a fumble return and Clyde Simmons’ rumbling INT return led the Eagles to a sound defeat of the Giants, 24-14. This one might be bigger and better.
Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium, Eagles and Giants square off to determine first place in the NFC East. Both teams are 9-4, both teams are hot, both teams realize that if they lose, they could find themselves out of the playoffs with11-5 records- and both teams want it!
“This is why you play the game,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who had three sacks when the Eagles beat the Giants 27-17 at the Linc in November. “That’s what you love to play in, December time. This is when you really make your money. You love playing in situations like this. Only brings the best out of each team, each individual. People remember this time of year and games like this, and it seems like it’s going to be another one of those classic games, just like it was down there [in Philly].”
These teams have played in the same division since 1933 so there is a wealth of history. It’s been 49 years since the Eagles and Giants met with both teams going into the game at least five games over .500. On Dec. 10, 1961, the Eagles and Giants were both 9-3 when they met at Franklin Field. Charlie Conerly threw 3 TD passes and the Giants won, 28-24. The Giants finished 10-3-1 and won the NFL Eastern Conference before losing in the NFL Championship Game to the Packers. The Eagles finished 10-4 and out of the postseason in the pre-wild card days – unable to defend their 1960 Championship title.
This year, the Giants are 8-2 since a 1-2 start, and they’ve won three straight since losing to the Eagles in November. The Eagles are 7-2 since a 2-2 start, and 5-1 since blowing a nine-point fourth-quarter lead and losing to the Titans 37-19 going into the bye week.
“We all know the magnitude of the game,” said Michael Vick, who hasn’t played in this important a game in six years. “We know it’s a big one. Where else would you want to be? Playing against a good team, so we’re going to have to be at our best. We’re going to need each and every day this week, as far as our preparation and getting to play a good football game. Come Sunday, it’s going to have to be lights out on both sides.”
The Eagles have won five straight over the Giants, but the Giants won six of the previous eight. Going back to 2001, the Eagles are 7-3 in East Rutherford, including a playoff win in 2008. The games are usually close, usually decided in the fourth quarter – sometimes later. Four times since Andy Reid took over as head coach of the Eagles, the Eagles and Giants have played overtime. The Giants won all four of those overtime games. Then again, history is no real indication of what will happen now. The players change, the coaches change, the playbooks change, weather conditions change but what remains is the bitter rivalry between the Eagles and the New York Football Giants.
“We’ve played some close ones,” said Giants QB Eli Manning, who is 6-9 in his career against the Eagles, including two playoff losses. “The one earlier this year, we had a lead in the fourth, but we couldn’t hold onto it. They’re a talented team, they play great football.” The Eagles are 17-3 in December games since 2006 and 9-1 on the road, losing only to the Redskins late in the 2008 season in Landover. The Giants are 9-10 in December during the same five-year span.
“It’s a big game and it seems like every year when we play the Giants around this time of year it’s like that, but that’s what we love around here, man,” said safety Quintin Mikell, a veteran of 17 Giants games. “If you’re trying to get to the Super Bowl, these are the kinds of game you have to win.”
Both teams are banged up, missing several key players. Both teams are perennial playoff visitors – the Eagles eight times in the last 10 years, the Giants four times in the last five years with one Super Bowl victory. Both teams have a signature that powers them – the Giants’ forceful rushing game, the Eagles’ big-play offense. It’s an intriguing matchup and a critical one.
“We know they’re going to bring it,” guard Todd Herremans said. “It’s the first time we’re going up to play in their new stadium, and they definitely are going to want to get back at us for last time we played them. It’s pretty much playoff mentality whenever we play a division game this time of year.
“We’re definitely ready. We’re excited. We wish we could play right now.” Patience is a virtue but preparedness is what will be required. The weather will be cold and windy. The game will be huge and the pressure will be gargantuan – even giant if you will. Joe Pisarcik and Herman Edwards will not be playing, nor will we see Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Mark Bavaro or Harry Carson. Eagles. Giants. Meadowlands. Winner represents the NFC East, loser probably doesn’t make the playoffs. Bring it!
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 24
NEW YORK GIANTS 23
CB Assante Samuel participated in practice this week and is likely to see action. He may not start, but expect Samuel in the Eagles defensive backfield rotation… Stewart Bradley is definitely out with until at least the playoffs. If there was ever a week that Andy Reid would pick not to be starting a rookie at MLB it’s this one. The Giants have leaned heavily on their running game the past few weeks and have had a lot of success with it. They’ve got two capable backs and a line that’s really started to open some holes for them. Dallas had been running the ball well and Chaney, along with the rest of the Eagles D were very good against the run last Sunday.
Video: Body Bag game Buddy Ryan defense vs. Redskins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lGnHqlXilg
Video Eagles vs. Giants: Week 11 Highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4-V7vgX91s
Video: 200 NFC Championship vs. Falcons – the last playoff game for Vick (and I was in attendance January 2005). Eagles went to Super Bowl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7RQAb_ZhQk
Video: Buddy’s Watching You (1988 Eagles Rap) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlR6ujpB89k (turn up your sound)
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org