Eighteen minutes into the subject season, the Eagles lost Randall Cunningham. Jim McMahon played well when he could. Nevertheless, McMahon was injury prone and the Eagles used three other quarterbacks-Jeff Kemp, Brad Goebel, and Pat Ryan. The Birds were first in just about every department on defense; but 26th in offense. James Joseph was the club’s leading runner with a mere 440 yards. We can speculate how good the defense would have been with less playing time and bigger leads to work with. The defense that Buddy Ryan built peaked the year after management fired him. This may be the 12th reason for Buddy Ryan’s appeal. Buddy was not around to see his defense blossom. The defense looked at times like a machine. Running against the Eagles front with Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Mike Pitts, and Mike Golic was nearly impossible. The season breaks down in four segments.
Part I-a 3-1 Start
There were two big victories game one at Green Bay and game three at Dallas.
Game One- Eagles 20 Packers 3
Jim McMahon completed 18 of 29 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. On defense the Eagles got four sacks, three pass interceptions, and a fumble recovery. For Green Bay, Via Sikahema returned a punt 60 yards to the Eagles nine. Three downs got the Packers nothing and they settled for a field goal. Big stories in this game were pass deflections from the Eagles front four. I call this the volleyball bowl. There were about 15 deflections and blocked passes near the line of scrimmage. Packer quarterback Dan Majkowski considered it a minor miracle if his throws went downfield.
Game Three-Eagles 24 Cowboys 0
Jim McMahon completed 17 of 25 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. The Birds defense had 11 sacks on Troy Aikman for 67 yards. In addition, they had three sacks and a fumble recovery. Emmit Smith gained only 44 yards. Twice in the second half, Philadelphia held when in the Cowboys were inside the Eagles 10. The first time the Cowboys lost 30 yards and the second time on downs. Aikman completed a pass to himself for a six yard loss. The Dallas Cowboys netted only 90 yards all day. Perhaps the best defensive game I have ever seen.