The History of the Giants-Eagles Rivalry

Updated on December 10, 2019
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) scores on a 13-yard touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field, November 25, 2018.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) scores on a 13-yard touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field, November 25, 2018. | Source

Giants vs. Eagles: Big Blue and the Birds

The rivalry between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles is one of the longest and most passionate in the National Football League (NFL). The history of the Eagles vs. the Giants goes back a long way—it began in 1933. And the rivalry has 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 for Eagles fans too, even though Philadelphia is known as the "City of Brotherly Love," I am pretty sure the feeling is reciprocated.

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 De Benneville “Bert” Bell, who was friendly with several NFL owners, and James R. Ludlow “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 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 Brooklyn 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.

Giants 1933 rookie quarterback Harry Newman had starred at the University of Michigan
Giants 1933 rookie quarterback Harry Newman had starred at the University of Michigan | Source

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 coach Steve Owen, a future Hall of Famer, had four future Hall of Fame players on his roster. Three of them started: 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 eleven featured five rookies. Only two players, linemen George Kenneally and Joe Carpe, had more than two years of NFL experience under their belts. For Carpe and quarterback Art Koeninger, this turned out to be their last NFL game. Rookie fullback Jodie Whire played 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 7 on a forward-lateral pass play capped by quarterback Red Kirkman’s 54-yard run.

The Giants countered with a touchdown ten 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 the 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 to seal 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 Chicago 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, the New Yorkers 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, though, there was no disputing that the Giants were the better team. The week after their loss to the Eagles, the Giants met the Chicago Bears for their second straight NFL Championship showdown. This time the Giants beat the Bears convincingly 30-17, 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. They won the Eastern Division Championship in 1935, 1939, and 1941, and they won 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. 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.

Program for "Steagles" vs. Giants at Shibe Park, 1943 (in Football Hall of Fame)
Program for "Steagles" vs. Giants at Shibe Park, 1943 (in Football Hall of Fame) | Source

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 Pittsburgh 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.

Eagles halfback Steve Van Buren led the Eagles to their first winning season in 1944
Eagles halfback Steve Van Buren led the Eagles to their first winning season in 1944 | Source

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 eight times, the Eagles won twice, and the teams split the series eight 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.

Giants quarterback Charlie Conerly led the Giants from 1948 to 1961
Giants quarterback Charlie Conerly led the Giants from 1948 to 1961 | Source

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 Cleveland Browns at 9-2 and faced a must-win situation to keep pace with the Browns.

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. Now, 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.

Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik on his 1952 Bowman football card
Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik on his 1952 Bowman football card | Source

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 American Football League (AFL) went into effect. The league was realigned with the expansion, and the Giants and Eagles were both assigned to the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference (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 as well en route to a 3-10-1 season.

1970: Monday Night Football Debut

But 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 the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) network. 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 games against the Giants, versus 5 wins for New York and 1 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

Date
Location
Winner
November 23, 1970
Franklin Field
Eagles 23-20
October 2, 1972
Veterans Stadium
Giants 27-12
September 22, 1980
Veterans Stadium
Eagles 35-3
October 10, 1988
Veterans Stadium
Eagles 24-13
November 4, 1991
Veterans Stadium
Eagles 30-7
October 22, 2000
Giants Stadium
Eagles 10-9
October 28, 2002
Veterans Stadium
Eagles 17-3
October 19, 2015
Lincoln Financial Field
Eagles 27-7
December 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 throughout the NFL 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 2 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

The year 1981 marked a return to the playoffs for the Giants after a long drought of 17 years. The Eagles were back for the fourth straight year. They had 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. The Giants 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 Los Angeles 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 the New Yorkers 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 Tampa Bay 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 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game the next week before losing to the Baltimore 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, excepting only 2002, when they earned a Wild Card spot. The Giants’ only win against Philadelphia 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 1 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 Minnesota 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 two field goals by Akers. The 23-11 final score put a disappointing punctuation mark on what had promised to be another great season for the Giants.

Michael Vick scrambles to avoid the Giants' pass rush, December 19, 2010
Michael Vick scrambles to avoid the Giants' pass rush, December 19, 2010 | Source

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 mind-numbing 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 8 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.

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned a Giants punt for a stunning victory
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned a Giants punt for a stunning victory | Source

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.

Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) kicks a field goal against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) kicks a field goal against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. | Source

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 twelve games to the Giants’ four, with four 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

 
Giants
Eagles
Division Championships
22
14
NFL Championships
8
4
Super Bowl Appearances
5
3
Super Bowl Championships
4
1
The Giants' eight NFL Championships include 1927, before the Eagles were in the NFL.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) reacts after 43-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) reacts after 43-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. | Source

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 handwriting 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 of course 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.

(UPDATE: With their 23-17 overtime win on December 9, 2019, the Eagles took the lead in the overall series for the first time.)

Looking to the Future

The Giants and the Eagles have both had their ups and downs throughout their long histories. That’s the nature of football, and it’s likely to continue. 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 New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles will continue to provide great entertainment for their fans and generate intense passions on both sides.

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