As the Giants prep for the Eagles tonight, with both teams in disarray - a combined two wins in 12 games - we thought it apropos to list the more ignominious moments the G-Men have suffered from the talons of their Philadelphian foes. Let's just say it's fitting that the teams stink, and that there should be a DeSean Jackson sighting.
5. Clyde’s Glide
Sadly, we're not recalling the great Walt Frazier, but an actual Clyde - Simmons, to be precise. On November 20, 1988, way back into Tuna time, Bill Parcells’ Giants and the Eagles were in a cage match for NFC East supremacy. With the game tied, 17-17, the Eagles stormed down the field in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. The kick was blocked…but kicker Luis Zendejas somehow scooped the pill and lateraled to monstrous lineman Clyde Simmons, who ran the rest of the way for a game-sealing score. The Giants not only blew the game, but also blew the division despite both clubs finishing with the same record, as the Eagles swept the season series. And yes, this happened at the Meadowlands, like four of the five incidents in this bloody blooper reel.
4. The Punt, Part II
Go back about seven years, replace DeSean Jackson with Brian Westbrook, and you have another soul-snatching loss that should have - would have - been a win anywhere else. On October 19, 2003, the Giants were leading the Eagles 10-7 with about 90 seconds left in the game. Not much time to mount a comeback, unless you plan to return a punt for a touchdown. Which is exactly what the Eagles did to the Giants in general, and Westbrook did in particular. But instead of 65 yards, as was the case with Jackson, Westbrook brought the rock 84 yards, making it almost from goal line to goal line. No idea what it is about the Meadowlands, the 19th and 20th of every month, or the Giants, that turned the Eagles into an army of Rudys and Rockys, but the Giants' home turf was the scene, if not the inspiration, for some biblically bad moments.
3. Chuck’s Clothesline
All you have to do is say the name, and the haunting image is summoned. On November 20, 1960, the Giants' iconic halfback, Frank Gifford, caught a football and ran across the hard winter dirt of Yankee Stadium. Then Bednarik hit him with what the old-timers called a clothesline - a furious forearm swung at great speed that crushed Gifford just under the chin. Gifford dropped like a stone, and lay motionless for a moment. There's a famous (or infamous) picture of Bednarik standing over Gifford's prostrate body, as if to savor the savage collision.
Bednarik even looked every bit the menacing part, his fingers sprouting in different directions like the branches of a tree. Though the hit could get someone arrested today, it was widely tolerated in 1960. Indeed, Bednarik, a World War II veteran, landed a shot that could have wiped out a platoon of Germans in the frostbitten Ardene Forest. Gifford's career was never the same, though, thankfully, he remained just as charming and affable for decades, becoming as vital a part of our Monday night ritual as a cozy couch and a bag of chips. His unfairly handsome face was beamed into our living rooms for 27 years as part of the Monday Night Football team.
2. Miracle at the Meadowlands I
In all the madness that engulfed the Big Apple and beyond in the late-1970s, there were a few random but historic disasters that helped to highlight the era. The first was the blackout of 1977, which sparked all kinds of chaos and malfeasance, with parts of the city literally feeling like a frontier town. The second was the blizzard of 1978, which dumped over two feet of snow and clamped down on the city like the lid of a white box, crippling Gotham for days.
The third event was a small, simple, and almost silent snap of a football just across the Hudson River. On Nov 19, 1978, in the waning seconds of a football game between the New York Giants, a team that just moved to New Jersey, and the Philadelphia Eagles, the G-Men were salting away a win at the newly-minted Meadowlands, a sleepy ending in a new place and part of a new 16-game NFL schedule.
But Giants QB Joe Pisarcik botched the exchange with RB Larry Csonka, and the rest was four seconds of ignominious history. The Eagles, trailing 17-12, snatched the ball and dashed down the field for a touchdown, winning in almost impossible fashion. It was the low-water mark for a Big Blue club that was on the back-end of a most gruesome time in their history, the gory bridge between the glory of the 1950s and their revival in the 1980s.
The best part? The scoop and score came courtesy of a defensive back named Herman Edwards, who was indeed playing to win the game.
1. Miracle at the Meadowlands II
On December 10, 2010, the New York Football Giants and Philadelphia Eagles were tied, 31-31, with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. The game was all set for a thrilling overtime, with one caveat: don't punt the ball to DeSean Jackson.
So, the G-Men of course punted the ball right at DeSean Jackson, and after the ball bounced a bit, the speedster snagged it mid-air, stepped back to survey the defense, and then took off like a fighter jet. The Giants didn't see him again until 65 yards later, when he sauntered into the end zone. Game. Set. Match. And another moment of agony burned into the archives of this rivalry. This was not only a grueling loss, but also a game the Giants led, 31-10.
See the theme here? While celebrating its 100th birthday, the NFL listed its 100 greatest plays. Bednarik's bone-crunching hit was No. 44, the first Miracle was named No. 23, and this redux, Miracle at the Meadowlands II, is listed at No. 36. These aren't just gruesome local plays that are kept alive by the New Yorker's native hubris. These moments rippled across the country, even as fun-house distortions of truly great plays, and have become part of the NFL’s mythology.
Follow Jason Keidel on Twitter: @JasonKeidel