clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eagles vs. Giants: The history

Rob Carr

Philadelphia vs. New York equals intense hatred, in whatever sport or rivalry one chooses. Flyers-Rangers, 76ers-Knicks, Phillies-Mets and even the old Philadelphia A's and Yankees were rivals. In football, it dates back to 1933, when the Eagles were born and began playing the Giants. The two teams have faced each other 161 times, with the Giants having a slight edge over the Eagles, with a 83-76-2 record, which includes four playoff games. The Giants have also won more titles (eight) than the Eagles, who have won three NFL Championships (1948, '49 and '60) but are still looking for their first Super Bowl win. The history between the Eagles and Giants is so long one could write a book about it, so we'll just rummage through the wreckage, the pain, the triumph and the thrills, and pick a few facts, highlights and lowlights.

The first-ever meeting occurred on Oct. 15, 1933 (eight days after baseball's New York Giants defeated the Washington Senators to win the World Series), at the Polo Grounds, and football's Giants kept the winning momentum going at the field of champions, by destroying the Eagles, 56-0, in Philadelphia's NFL debut game. The Eagles finished with a 3-5-1 record in their first season, defeating the Cincinnati Reds for their first win (and again for their third victory, in the Reds' second and final year of existence) along with the Pittsburgh Pirates (to be renamed the Steelers in 1940), in the somewhat National League baseball-themed season. The Giants went 11-3 in that year but lost to the Chicago Bears in the NFL Championship Game, thwarting the chance for three New York champions, as the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in the spring of '33. The first time the Eagles beat the Giants came on Oct. 28, 1934, in their fourth try, defeating New York at the Polo Grounds, 17-0.

The Giants and Eagles have squared off in the playoffs four times, with the first coming almost 50 years after their first game, on Dec. 27, 1981, at Veterans Stadium. The teams split the season series, each winning a game. The Giants' win was the first time they defeated the Eagles since 1975, and this was their first playoff game since 1963. In the 27-21 victory, the Giants jumped all over Philadelphia in the first quarter, when Scott Brunner threw touchdown passes to Leon Bright and John Mistler while Mark Haynes scored on a fumble return. The Eagles got on the board when Ron Jaworski hit Harold Carmichael with a 15-yard pass, but Brunner connected with Tom Mullady on a 22-yard pass to give the Giants a 27-7 lead. Wilbert Montgomery ran for two more Eagle touchdowns but the Giants prevailed when Brunner successfully kneeled down to end the game, avoiding any Joe Pisarcik-like mishaps. Rob Carpenter was the offensive star for New York, rushing for 161 yards, and Herm Edwards intercepted a Brunner pass for the Eagles.

The Giants won again the second time around, on Jan. 7, 2001, 20-10, at the Meadowlands, as it was the first step toward their Super Bowl appearance. The Giants defeated the Eagles twice during the regular season, and the playoffs would be no different. The game couldn't have begun any better for New York, when Ron Dixon returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The Giants added three points in the second quarter on a 37-yard Brad Daluiso field goal, and seven more on the signature play of the game, a tumbling, acrobatic 32-yard interception return by Jason Sehorn. The two teams then traded field goals, and the Eagles finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter (a Donovan McNabb to Torrance Small 10-yard pass), but it was all over by that point. Each team turned the ball over three times, but Kerry Collins was efficient (12-for-19, 122 yards, no picks) and the Giants' defense sacked McNabb six times, with Michael Strahan recording two.

Six years later to the day, the Giants and Eli Manning weren't quite up to Super Bowl material just quite yet, as they lost to the Eagles 23-20, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants and Eagles split the season series, but Philadelphia prevailed in the playoff meeting. The Giants scored first on a Manning to Plaxico Burress 17-yard connection, but the Eagles eventually took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter. The Giants came back to tie the game on a Jay Feely field goal and another Manning-to-Burress touchdown strike, but the Eagles, with five minutes left, methodically marched down the field, and David Akers booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to win it. The Giants had no answer for Brian Westbrook, as he rushed for 141 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run. Tiki Barber gained 137 yards in a losing cause.

The Giants fell to the Eagles again two years later, 23-11, at a cold and windy Meadowlands. Ahmad Bradshaw returned the opening kickoff 65 yards to give the Giants great field position, but they had to settle for a field goal, which was the theme of the day, as the Giants' points came on three field goals and a safety, while the Eagles made into the end zone twice to go with a trio of field goals. The Giants rushed for 138 yards to 59 for the Eagles, but it didn't help.

Besides getting the better of the Giants in the last two playoff matchups, the Eagles have also authored three nightmares in Giants history that will never be erased from the minds of Giant fans, as hard as they may try. The first came on Nov. 20, 1960, when Chuck Bednarik knocked out Frank Gifford and sent the halfback into an 18-month retirement. Things began well for the Giants that afternoon at Yankee Stadium, when Joe Morrison ran for a one-yard touchdown and Pat Summerall kicked a 26-yard field goal. But the Eagles, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, in his last season, scored 17 unanswered points in the second half, and won 17-10, with Bednarik's blow to Gifford being the cherry on top. Gifford, who would return in 1962 while changing positions to flanker, rushed for 24 yards that day, completed a 13-yard pass and caught five passes, for 89 yards. Philadelphia also defeated the Giants a week later, 31-23, and went on to win the NFL Championship when they beat the Green Bay Packers.

The play that ultimately changed the Giants franchise for good occurred on Nov. 19, 1978, at the Meadowlands, and it was, of course, the Joe Pisarcik fumble. The Giants, who were 5-6 and on the verge of snapping a three-game losing streak, had built up a 17-12 lead on a pair of Pisarcik touchdown throws, one to Bobby Hammond and the other to Johnny Perkins, along with a 37-yard Joe Danelo field goal. All that was needed was a kneel-down in the victory formation, but the hapless Giants failed to perform that basic task, when Pisarcik instead handed the ball off to Larry Csonka. The ball bounced off the fullback and was scooped up by Herm Edwards, who ran it 26 yards into the end zone to give the Eagles a 19-17 win. Pisarcik, who went 13-for-23, with 181 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, started four games for the Giants in 1979, and then spent five seasons with . . . the Eagles, as Ron Jaworski's backup (who didn't have a great game himself that fateful day: 15-for-31, 164 yards, three interceptions, no touchdowns). Csonka (13 yards on two carries against the Eagles), played two more games as a Giant, gaining 12 yards, before going back to the Miami Dolphins for his final NFL season, in 1979. The Pisarcik/Csonka fumble along with the 6-10 record of the '78 team ushered in the George Young era, and with it prosperity.

One can replace the names Joe Pisarcik and Herm Edwards with Matt Dodge and DeSean Jackson, but the outcome was just as horrifying, on Dec. 19, 2010, at the New Meadowlands. The Giants were rolling, with a 31-10 lead with 7:28 left in the game . . . yada, yada, yada, Dodge boots a punt, not out of bounds, but to Jackson, who returns it 65 yards for a touchdown as time expires, and the Eagles win, 38-31. The Giants couldn't corral Michael Vick in the fourth quarter, who, for the game, rushed for 130 yards while throwing for 242, with three touchdown passes and one rushing score. Eli Manning tossed four touchdown passes, but the defense just couldn't stop the Eagles in the fourth quarter. Dodge played two more games with the Giants, to finish out the season, and hasn't resurfaced in the NFL.

The biggest losing streak the Giants have had vs. the Eagles: 12 games from 1975 to 1981.

The biggest winning streak the Giants have had vs. the Eagles: Two nine-game streaks, the first from 1938 to 1942, and the second from 1997 to 2001.

The Giants have 11 shutout wins vs. Eagles, and the Eagles have five against the Giants.

The Giants' record by the decade vs. the Eagles: 1930s: 11-3; 1940s: 9-10-1; 1950s: 14-6; 1960s: 11-7; 1970s: 4-15-1; 1980s: 12-9; 1990s: 11-9; 2000s: 10-13; 2010s: 1-4.