With the first Giants/Eagles game of the 2012 season less than 48 hours away it’s a great time to look back on a rivalry that has had some memorable games in recent years. Below are the five best Giants/Eagles games in the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era.
A variety of factors went into determining which games made the list including significance of the game, how competitive the game was and the impact of the outcome of the game on both teams. One note of caution to Giants fans—some of these games will awaken painful memories!
5. Nov. 9 2008—Giants 36, Eagles 31—in Philadelphia
This was a signature game in the Giants' 11-1 start to the 2008 regular season. Despite the Giants entering the game with a 7-1 record while the Eagles were only 5-3, many people thought that Philadelphia could lay claim to being the class of the NFC East with a win. The fact that the Eagles were a three-point favorite in Vegas further proves that Big Blue was still fighting for respect despite their superior record (and Super Bowl victory nine months earlier).
It was a seesaw battle that saw one tie and four lead changes. The key play came late in the third quarter with the Eagles leading 24-20 and New York facing a 3rd-and-10 situation on Philadelphia’s 20-yard line. Manning completed a 17-yard pass to Kevin Boss that appeared to give the Giants a crucial first down. The play, however, was nullified because it was initially ruled that Manning was beyond the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball to Boss. Coughlin wisely threw the challenge flag, and the call was reversed based on the fact that Manning’s back foot was still in contact with the line of scrimmage when the ball was released.
The Giants scored a touchdown two plays later on a three-yard run by Brandon Jacobs, and they never trailed again.
4. Jan. 11, 2009—Eagles 23, Giants 11—Divisional Playoff Game in New York
This was the least competitive game on this list, but it carried the most significance.
New York’s end to the 2008 season was abysmal starting with the Plaxico Burress self-inflicted gunshot wound incident that cost the Giants their best receiver. The distraction of the Burress fiasco and the sudden lack of explosiveness in the Giants' offense were major reasons why they lost three of their last four regular-season games.
Despite the late-season swoon, New York still captured the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, which earned the team the right to play the Eagles at home in Round 2. Gusty winds at the old Giants Stadium nullified the home-field advantage though as Manning struggled with his accuracy, completing only 52 percent of his passes while throwing two interceptions.
New York actually had an 11-10 lead early in the third quarter, but Manning’s ineffectiveness and the Giants’ failure to crack the end zone were too much for them to overcome. The Eagles took a 13-11 lead midway through the third quarter on a 35-yard field goal by David Akers and never looked back.
3. Sept. 17, 2006—Giants 30, Eagles 24 in OT—in Philadelphia
Things appeared bleak for the 0-1 Giants heading into the fourth quarter of this contest with the Eagles, who were enjoying a comfortable 24-7 lead. Momentum changed quickly, however, in this often overlooked early-season classic.
New York, out of nowhere, made a furious comeback, scoring 17 unanswered points in the final quarter to force overtime. They finished the comeback on their second possession in OT when Manning, facing an all-out blitz on 3rd-and-11 from the Eagles' 31 yard-line, tossed a beautiful touchdown pass to Burress.
The Giants went on to win five of their next six games to finish the first half of the regular season, 6-2. The Eagles, on the other hand, bumbled their way to a 4-4 start. Both teams seemed headed in opposite directions, but little did they know that they were on an unlikely collision course to meet again in the playoffs.
2. Jan. 7, 2007—Eagles 23, Giants 20—Wild-Card Playoff Game in Philadelphia
After their 6-2 start the Giants went into the tank, losing six of their last eight games. They barely snuck into the playoffs as an 8-8 team, though the fans and media didn’t seem to really care. All anyone could talk about was the demise of Manning, who had several terrible games in the second half of the season, and the inevitable firing of Tom Coughlin (or so they thought).
Meanwhile the Eagles won their last five games of the season to capture the NFC East crown and did it with back-up quarterback Jeff Garcia, who was filling in capably for the injured Donovan McNabb.
It appeared the Giants would exit the playoffs quietly when they entered the fourth quarter trailing 20-10. Just like in September though, the Giants didn’t quit and tied the game on a Manning-to-Burress 11-yard touchdown strike with five minutes left in the game.
The Giants defense never allowed the offense to get the ball back, however, as the Eagles drove 46 yards on 10 plays to set up a successful Akers 38-yard field goal as time expired.
The defeat capped a lost season that seemed so promising after eight games. It also ended the career of running back Tiki Barber, who famously announced his impending retirement during the season. At this point, the Giants seemed like a franchise that would never get over the hump and win a championship with the Coughlin/Manning duo. 13 months later that would all change.
1. Dec. 19, 2010—Eagles 38, Giants 31—in New York
There is no need to go through the gory details of this epic defeat as it is still fresh in the mind of every Giants fan even two years later. If you really must torture yourself, here are complete highlights of the Eagles' 21-point comeback with less than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Take solace in the fact that the Eagles didn’t win another game the rest of the 2010 season, including a crushing home playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. It also helps to remember that the very next season the Giants won their second title in four years.