The 1961 Philadelphia Eagles began a downward trend which lasted until 1978. From 1962 to 1978, the Eagles had only one winning season. Philadelphia Eagles in 61 had a brilliant 7-1 start and staggered to a 3-3 finish. They were in the running for first place in the Eastern Division Title until that final weekend. The situation as it happened.
At Yankee Stadium the 10-3 Giants were hosting the 8-5 Cleveland Browns. The Giants defeated Cleveland Browns 37 to 21 a few weeks earlier. The Giants defeated Philadelphia twice, 38 to 21 at Yankee Stadium and 28 to 24 at Franklin Field. At Briggs Stadium in Detroit, the 8-4-1 Lions were playing the 9-4 Philadelphia Eagles.
The story was obvious. If Cleveland defeated the Giants and the Eagles won at Detroit, Philadelphia would win the Eastern Conference. I never before or since rooted for Cleveland. The The Eagles won at Detroit in a thriller. The Birds scored 10 points in the final five minutes to defeat the Lions 27 to 24.
Philadelphia was trailing 24 to 17 and just inside five minutes left in the game. Birds lined up attempting a 16 yard field goal. The idea of course was to get three points, hold off the Lions, and try for a game winning touchdown. Sonny Jurgensen was holding the ball for place kicks. Sonny put the down for a spit second then rose up and threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to Dick Lucas. On the next series, Bobby Walston kicked a 10 yard field goal. Final Eagles 27 to 24.
Unfortunately, the game at Yankee Stadium ended with the Browns and Giants playing a 7 all tie. The Philadelphia Eagles finished in second place 1/2 game behind New York.