1961 Eagles Got No Help from the Cleveland Browns

If anyone tells you I said this I will deny it.   Cleveland was the most hated team for rooters of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles.  The rivalry between the New York Giants and the Browns attracted the most attention for many fans.  At one point, the Giants won six in a row.  Three in 1958 which counts the playoffs;  two in 1959;  and the first game in 1960.

On the last weekend of the 1961 season,  I was hoping that the Cleveland Browns would defeat the New York Giants.  Around mid-season, the Giants defeated the Browns at Cleveland 37 to 21.  The Eagles were 9-4 and the Giants 10-3 after 13 games.  After a 7-1 start,  the Eagles lost three of five.  The Giants defeated us twice with Y.A Tittle torching the Eagles secondary,  38 to 21 at Yankee Stadium and 28 to 24 at Franklin Field .   The Eagles at Cleveland-Jimmy Brown set an NFL record rushing for 245 yards with four touchdowns.  Milt Plum completed 16 of 21 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown.  Cleveland put up 505 yards defeating the Eagles 45 to 24.

Week 14.  The only hope for the Eagles was winning  at Detroit and the Giants losing  at Yankee Stadium versus the Browns.  This would set up an Eastern Conference Playoff  the following week between New York and Philadelphia.  Since the Giants defeated the Eagles twice during the season, the game would be at Yankee Stadium. More Later.




1961 Eagles got no Help from the Pittsburgh Steelers

The New York  Giants  finished the season at 10-3-1  and the Philadelphia Eagles were 10-4, 1/2 game behind.   Freezing  other variables,  a Week 2 game at Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Giants really hurt both Pennsylvania teams.  The Giant offense was  phasing in Y. A. Title as the first string quarterback but 42 year old Charlie Conerly still had significant playing time.

Now for the game. The  Steelers scored first as John Henry Johnson capped a drive with a three yard zip.  Steelers 7 Giants 0.  Then came the most damaging play of the entire season for Pittsburgh.   A second drive in the first quarter stalled at the NY 35 yard line.   The Steelers were attempting a 42 field goal with Tom Tracy holding for Lou Micheals.  Tracy spotted the ball then picked it up which totally  confused the Giants.  Tracy threw on the option play to John Henry Johnson,  who was standing all alone at the 20 yard line.   The pass was right between his numbers and he dropped the ball.  I believe he could have crawled into the End Zone.

A 14 to 0 lead might have opened in flood gates for Pittsburgh; quite the contrary it invigorated New York and this below  took place.

Chuck Conerly threw a touchdown pass to Joe Morrison;

Y. A Title threw a touchdown pass to Del Shofner;

Pat Summeral kicked a 19 yard field goal

Erich Barnes had two interceptions off  Bobby Lane

for Pittsburgh:

John Henry Johnson opened the scoring with a four yard touchdown run;

Buddy Dial caught an 11 yard touchdown pass

Trailing 17 to 14, Pittsburgh had the ball at the Giants 25.   Jim Katcavage hit Layne on a pass play.  Andy Robustelli recovered.

Had the Steelers won, the Eagles would have won the division 10-4 to the Giants 9-4-1


1979 Playoffs Rams 21 Cowboys 19

An an easy victory is preferable to a very close one.  It’s easier on the fans.  Teams can rest regulars and  give the reserves valuable playing time.   But to me the biggest factor is in the immediate aftermath of the game.   A team often comes  from behind to win and  falls flat the following week.  

On the last regular season game of 1979,  the Dallas Cowboys defeated  the Washington Redskins 35 to 34. As per usual, Roger  Staubach led a great come from behind effort.   Look at a recent article called Roger Staubach Last Miracle.  On the first round of the playoffs,  Dallas hosted the Los Angles Rams.  All signs pointed to any easy win.  After all:

Dallas defeated the Rams 28 to 0 in the previous year’s NFC Title  game.  Earlier in the current year,  Dallas demolished the Rams  30 to 6. Dallas’ record in 1979 was 11-5, two games better than the 9-7 Rams.   As might be expected, the Rams’ competition  in the NFC West was way below Dallas in the NFC East.   Los Angeles did not even have to win their final game.   The system would looked really  bad with a  .500 team in the playoffs.

This game was about the most even as possible.

Los Angeles Rams-Vince Ferragamo completed only nine passes but three went for touchdowns.  In the final minute,  VF covered 54 yards in a touchdown pass to Billy Waddy that  put the Rams ahead for good.   Wendell Tyler rushed  for 82 yards and  caught a 4o yard touchdown pass.

Dallas Cowboys-In the final game of his career,  Roger Staubach completed 12 passes in 28 attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown.  Tony Dorsett carried 19 times for 87 yards.   Staubach, under a fierce  pass rush,  threw a pass to an interior lineman which drew a penalty and ended the game.






1966 St Louis-A Big Dive

Now for 1966

The Cardinals brought a 7-1-1 record into Pitt Stadium to play the Steelers who were 2-5-1. Pittsburgh used special teams and defense to get the victory.

–Paul Martha returned an interception 38 yards to the Eagle 10. Ron Smith threw a touchdown pass to John Hilton on the next play.
–Andy Russell blocked a punt from Jacky Smith and returned it for a touchdown.
–D Hoak, on a pass option play, threw a touchdown for 38 yards to Roy Jefferson.

The Steelers denied St. Louis a touchdown on this game. Final Steelers 30 Cardinals 9

The very next week, with an oddity, the Pittsburgh Steelers went to St. Louis. This was a bitterly fought game full of penalties, turnovers, and sacks. The Cardinals gained 228 yards to just 80 yards for the Steelers. St Louis got two field goals and the Steelers got one. Final. Cardinals 6 Steelers 3.

The victory gave the Cardinals a 8-2-1 record and in contention for the title. However, they lost the final three games to finish 8-5-1. Among those three losses was a 16 to 10 embarrassment to the first year Atlanta Falcons

1979 Rogers Staubach’s Last Miracle

The last weekend of 1979 saw a tight situation in the NFC East.   Three teams the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, and the Philadelphia Eagles,  had 1o-5 records.  As the math revealed, the Eagles had the Wild Card  and could do no better or worse.  The winner of the Cowboys and Redskins game would be in first place  heading into the post season.  The loser would have to plan for 1980.  A few weeks earlier at Washington, the Redskins  defeated the Cowboys 34 to 21.

At Dallas, the Redskins got off to a quick start leading 17 to 0.  The Cowboys came back and it was a back and fourth game until the fourth quarter.   With seven minutes left in the game the Diesel, John Riggins, went 66 yards for a touchdown  and a 34 to 21 lead for DC.   After a 7-1 start, Dallas had been floundering and few thought that Dallas would win. Then came Roger Staubach throwing  two touchdown passes-26 yards to Ron Springs and  eight yards pass to Tony Hill.  Only eight seconds remained in the game and the crowd went wild.

Joe Theisman had a good game but he was no match for Roger Staubach.  RS completed 24 of 46 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns.  Tony Hill caught eight of these passes for 113 yards  and three touchdowns.   John Riggins kept the Redskins in the game by carrying 22 times for 151 yards and three touchdowns.  This was the last of the Staubach lead come from behind victories.

The Eagles, on the road, defeated the Houston Oilers 26 to 20.

Slow Starts, Late Wins 2006-2011 Why?


2006-After 11 games, the Eagles were 5-6;  counting playoffs the Eagles then won six in a row;  defeated the New York Giants twice in a four game span;  lost to the New Orleans Saints 27 to 24 in the second round of the playoffs;  lost earlier in the season to the Saints by the same score.

2007-Floundering through 13 games with a record of 5-8;  the team should have won five of the eight but simply could not turn the page for a happy ending;  Eagles won their final three games to reach .500; the first of these three was a 10 to 6 win over the Cowboys at Texas Stadium;  with Dallas winning 13 games,  this was no small feat.

2008-What Eagle fan forget this  sensational comeback winning six of seven after going 5-5-1 ?  This included two wins over the New York Giants, 20 to 14 and 23 to 11, with both games at the Meadow Lands.  The loss to the Cardinals in the NFC Title Game 32 to 25 was to me the  biggest disappointment  in over 60 years of rooting for Philadelphia.

2009-In Week 9, the Eagles  gave away a 20 to 16 game to the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia.  After that the Eagles won six in a row.  In three of these games,  the team was passing up scoring opportunities, muffing pass interceptions,  and not always making third down stops.  They were close rather than easy wins.  Before playing at Dallas in the final game, I had doubts about how good the team  really was.

Dallas white washed the Eagles 24 to 0.  Instead of a BYE and the home field advantage, the Eagles went to Dallas on the Wild Card Week.  Playing in Dallas on successive weeks is cruel and unusual punishment.  Cowboys won 34 to 14. 

2011-After  12 weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles were 4-8. They caught fire and won their last four games by  comfortable margins.The biggest win was a 20 to 7 affair with at the Dallas Cowboys.

A  footnote- the Eagles won both games with the Dallas Cowboys.  They came very near a double shut out.   In Philadelphia  the Eagles were leading 34 to 0 with about four minutes left in the game.  Tony Romo threw a 56 yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robertson bringing the score to 34 to 7.  In Dallas it looked like a sure shout out.   The Eagles were leading 20 to 0 with only 25 seconds left.   Our guys  were  punting from their own goal line.  After Russ Carter blocked a punt,  Stephen McGee threw a four yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin.    Final again Eagles 20 Dallas 7.

Here were the four games.

@ Miami won 26 to 10;

@ home defeated the New York Jets 45 to 19;

@ Dallas won 20 to 7;

@ home  defeated the Washington Redskins 34 to 10.      


1972 Roger Staubach First Comeback

The Dallas Cowboys had defeated the San Francisco  the NFC title in both 1970 and 1971.    1970 at San Francisco 17 to 10;  1971 at Dallas 14 to 3.  In 1972 it looked like it would be different.   On Thanksgiving Day, San Francisco demolished Dallas 31 to 10.  The 49ers lead 14 to 10 at halftime and Dallas did nothing in the second half.  Ted Kwalick, the Penn State All American, caught four  passes for 68 yards.

The defense and linebacker Skip Vanderbunt were the real st0ry.  The 49ers sacked  Craig Morton and Roger Staubach nine times for 66 yards in loses.  Skip Vanderbunt had a day that defensive players wish for.  In the first quarter, Vanderbunt recovered a fumble and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.  With less than three minutes remaining, he sealed the game with an interception and return 21 yards for another score.   Dallas finished 10-4  to 8-5-1 for the 49ers;  but this day the 49ers were clearly better. 

One month later, the Cowboys went to San Francisco in the first round of the playoffs.  Despite the better record the 49ers were first in the NFC West while Dallas was second to the Redskins in the NFC East.  This game had some novel twists. After three quarters, the 49ers lead  28 to 13.  

Keeping the game close for Dallas was Craig Morton throwing yard 27 yard touchdown pass to Lance Alworth.  Then game a 27 yard field goal from Tony Frisch.  For San Francisco, Vic Washington  returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.  Larry Scieber  capped three  touchdown drives with 1 yard plunches.  Dallas recorded five sacks for 33 yards.

Behind 28 to 30, Tom Landry inserted Roger Staubach at quarterback in the fourth quarter.  There was allot of second guessing when the Cowboys kicked a field goal making the score 28 to 16.   Fans thought it was too late for that  The next two drives Staubach threw  for touchdowns- 20 yards to Bill Parks and 10 yards to Ron Sellers.   The Cowboys were really ecstatic jumping all over the  bench.  The crowd was quite; Dallas had beaten the Forty Niners in the playoffs  for three consecutive years.  Twice in the NFC Title game and now at the first round.

Often teams with great come behind victories fall flat the following week.   And so with the Dallas Cowboys  in the NFC Title game that year.  They were like jelly fish going to DC.  The Redskins beat them 26 to 3.  

This was Roger Staubach’s first come from behind victory.