I remember when the New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 10-7 years ago on a Brian Westbrook punt return for a touchdown. I remember looking the television at Champps in Columbia, Maryland a if someone had just jumped up and roundhouse kicked me in the testicles and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t move, speak or anything. I remember walking to work afterwards in the most demoralized state that I had ever been in.
It was worse than the 39-38 loss in the playoffs to San Francisco where we blew a 24 point lead the previous year because this was a divisional rival and that loss began a slow painful death to our year. It was the end of the Kerry Collins era when he got injured and was then jettisoned out of town, it was the end of Jim Fassel as we lost the next eight games to finish 4-12 and it was the beginning of my absolute hatred towards the Eagles.
Yeah I know that they’re a divisional rival and the New York and Philly are supposed to hate each other, but I always had mutual respect for Philadelphia. This goes back to my old adage of how parents shape your sports life, well my mom at a point in my lifetime loved Randall Cunningham and how he darted through defenses in those pls green, grey and white uniforms just thrashing people and leaving linebackers wondering what happened. So I started liking the Eagles a little because of Randall and his unorthodox style of play (side note: another reason why fatherless homes suck, you get confused in your sports allegiances. Had I had my dad around he would’ve slapped some sense into me and told me that he would disown me if I like the Eagles in any way. You know like how I will if my kid ever wears an Islanders, Michigan or Red Sox jersey).
Besides I hated everyone else in the division that had to be hated. The Cowboys and Redskins were like chopped liver to me and I want Troy Aikman and Darrell Green to die more than Reggie White or Keith Byars. My thinking was that since I hated those two I might as well like the Eagles because they have to play them like the Giants did, so I made my mom and i happy.
Then, well the Eagles got better than the Giants and I got older and began to learn regional rivalries. You can’t like the Eagles, their off-limits like every other team in your division. You have to hate them it’s only natural. I mean the Packers fans can’t like the Lions because it’s not a rivalry but it’s an interdivisional matchup. How crappy would you feel if the Lions made the playoffs thanks to a win over the Packers and they missed out on the playoffs? Exactly.
(the sad part about this is that living in Maryland totally jaded this rule to so many people. Starting about 2007 there were so many people claiming that they liked the Orioles and the Red Sox that I want to drown myself in the harbor. People gave me the same answer over and over “I like the Red Sox a lot but I’m still an o’s fan… Um no you’re not. 1. You couldn’t name one Neil Diamond song, 2. You have no Boston ties except maybe in seafood and 3. You never, ever, say that a team in your own division means just as much to you as the team you grew up with. Thats like if my buddy Scully said to me that he liked the Nats now but not if they play his Phillies… I would hit him with a skillet.)
So as Donovan McNabb and gang green rolled to 4 NFC title games and a Super Bowl I had to deal with the fumble brothers Kerry and Tiki, the beginning of the Eli era and Will Allen an Will Peterson who I still loathe to this day.
Then came my moment of glory, 2008 and the Giants Super Bowl win. Scully and my other Eagles buddy Andrew always try to discredit that win by saying Eli’s a bum the Giants got lucky and other phrases I’ve heard day in and out in my life, but all I did was point to my shirt and say that Donovan couldn’t do it in 4 and Eli did it in 1. I had all the material I needed. There wasn’t a thing that any Eagles fan could say to me about the Giants. I dont care about the 2008 playoffs loss. The fact that we got swept last year or anything. The Eagles got nothing on us… Until yesterday.
That 38-31 loss was the most heartbreaking loss of my life. Yes I understand the Yankees lost a 3-0 lead in 2004 an the Rangers blew a 3-1 lead against the Caps two years ago but like the 2003 Eagles loss those were slow painful deaths. This was at the alter about to get married having the band playing for ten minutes while waiting for your bride to come out, which she obviously won’t, bad.
We had the division wrapped up, a first round bye and legitimate Super Bowl shot all wrapped up and we threw it in the fire. I’ve never seen a football team collapse the way that we did and of all places it had to happen to me while I was in Boston on a personal holiday. It was almost the ballbuster of the trip, thank god Elizabeth was sitting next to me so I couldn’t go into full meltdown mode and she would think i was a nut.
Here’s all you need to know; the Giants absolutely dominated 52 minutes and 30 seconds of this game. We kept Mike Vick in check, stopped any big DeSean Jackson plays and threw all over the Eagles defense. It was 31-10 after Eli threw his 4th TD of the game and it was over, I told Liz it was over I even sent Scully and Andrew messages mocking that stupid E-A-G-L-E-S chant. I was thinking about the Packers next week and how we get the number two seed in the NFC… then this ridiculousness happened.
At 7:38 in the fourth quarter Vick hot tight end for a 70 yard touchdown because Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell stayed aggressive with a 21 point lead and Kenny Phillips tried to make a big play and failed miserably. 31-17 G-men. No problem.
Then the Eagles recover an onside kick, understandable… EXCEPT OUR SPECIAL TEAMS COACH DIDN’T HAVE THE HANDS UNIT OUT JUST IN CASE A TEAM DOWN BY 14 POINTS MIGHT WANT TO TRY AN ONSIDE KICK THIS LATE IN THE GAME!!!!!
(side note: my buddy Tara always says Scully and I should have our own ESPN show, I disagree because of games like these. Can you imagine me doing a show after this game? I’d get fined or fired because I would rip everyone in a series of f bombs.)
What happens Vick makes a great play on third down because, again, Fewell takes another risk an fails. Three plays later Vick runs it in to cut the lead to 31-24.
At this point I’m not even paying attention to anything Liz is sitting there probably thinking I’m going blow a gasket. He told me her dad gets like that during Browns games so she probably was having a flashback. Poor girl.
Giants get the ball back and I’m praying we get first downs. We get one which leads to this new great moment in the play calling history of Kevin Gilbride: run on first down, pass play on second down which gets us an offside call, run, pass play, sack… ok WHY THROW THE BALL WHEN YOU RUN THE BALL AND KILL CLOCK AND MAKE THE EAGLES USE TIMEOUTS?!?!?! The pass plays cost us clock and a penalty. If we run the ball we kill the clock, game over done. Instead the Eagles get the ball with 3 minutes left.
After forcing another third down Vick runs 30 yards for a first down because Aaron Ross over plays him instead of containing him (at one point I wanted an Aaron Ross jersey, I’m glad I never got it). The two minute warning hits and Liz goes to call her mom, she’s seen this picture before apparently. One minute left Vick to Maclin, touchdown, tied game… Shoot me.
So instead of it being tied with seconds left, which should’ve happened if Gilbride had common sense, there’s a minute left, the Giants are so discombobulated we get nothing an get sacked with 14 seconds left.
Now the ridiculous part… Let me tell you how scared I am when Matt Dodge punts the ball, Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween scared. He’s terrible, I’ve watched him punt this year, league’s worst punter hands down… And he’s kicking to DeSean Jackson… Tom Coughlin tells him do what even Helen Keller knows to do in this situation with a guy like Jackson back there, kick the ball out of bounds. Easy right? He’s a punter, it’s his job, what does he do… Kicks the damn ball directly to Jackson… I’m not making this up.
As he returns the ball up the sidelines I immediately thought of the Westbrook return and how it killed our season in 2003. I knew our season was done, we won’t make the playoffs with two road games left, we won’t recover from this. The damn Eagles did it to me again. They ruined a promising season where the Giants should be going to the playoffs as a two seed and home field advantage. Instead we won’t make the playoffs it’s done.
38-31 Eagles win. When Liz came back she tried to console which led to me going into the bathroom and cursing Matt Dodge and his mother to hell. Of course this happens in Boston and I’m sure Scully, Andrew and every pats fan got a kick out of it.
The Eagles are now more hated in my house than the Cowboys or Redskins ever will be. They’re secondary to the Eagles who continue to torment me. Westbrook, McNabb, and now Jackson. If my mom or anyone influences my kid to like the Eagles I’m jumping off of a cliff.