As Howard Cossell would say about the winner of the NFC East this year. The team will be in the playoffs but will not be playoff team. There have teams that overcame some big losses and still were in the playoffs. Here are some examples. I am referring to two or more big losses. More will come later.
1965 Cleveland Browns… 11-3 record… lost NFL Championship Game at Green Bay 23 to 12. Week 2 at home lost to the St Louis Cardinals 49 to 13…Week 13…at Los Angeles lost to the Rams 42 to 7.
1968 Cleveland Browns…10-4 record…lost NFL Championship to Baltimore Colts…34 to 0… Week 2 lost to the Cowboys at Dallas 28 to 7…Week 3 at lost at home to the Los Angeles Rams 24 to 6…Bill Nelson replaced Frank Ryan at quarterback after this game.
1969 Dallas Cowboys…11-2-1…lost to the Cleveland Browns twice…for the regular season, lost to the Browns at Cleveland 42 to 10…For the Eastern Conference title at Dallas, lost at home to Cleveland at home 38 to 14… the Cowboys’ regular season record of 11-2-1 was one game better than the 10-3-1 Browns.
1970 Dallas Cowboys…10-4…after nine games the Cowboys were only 5-4…in Week 3 lost to the Vikings at Minnesota 54 to 13…In Week 9 at Dallas the Cardinals shut out the Cowboys 38 to 0…after week 9 and including the Post Season, Dallas won seven in a row in route to the Super Bowl.
1970 Miami Dolphins…In his first year at Miami, Don Shula bought the Dolphins from 3-10-1 to 10-4… But there were three weeks where they looked a sandlot team put in the pros by mistake… Don Shula never lost his confidence… Week 6 at home lost to the Cleveland Browns 28 to 0…Week 7 at Baltimore lost 35 to 0…Week 8 at Philadelphia, the Dolphins trailed the Eagles 24 to 0 after three quarters …the Eagles held off a furious fourth quarter comeback and defeated the Dolphins 24 to 17. As I said, the Dolphins went on to become the Wild Card team in the AFC… and yet Miami, in 1970, went through 11 consecutive quarters of shut out football.
Looking at the 45 to 17 no fizzle yesterday brings some nauseating memories against the Buccaneers.
1991 Lost 14 to 13. At Tampa.
This was the year that Randall Cunningham played only 18 minutes. Jim McMahon played well but injuries often kept him on the sidelines. Brad Goebel was the quarterback for this game and Philadelphia got two field goals. Later in the third quarter, Seth Joyner recovered a fumble in the Buccaneers’ End zone for a 13 to 0 lead. However, even a great defense has limits when it’s on the field too long. Chris Chandler threw two touchdown passes in the last five minutes. Tampa 14 Philadelphia 13. This game and the the 13 to 6 loss to the New Orleans Saints kept the Eagles out of the playoffs.
2006 lost 23 to 21. At Tampa.
With eight seconds left in the third quarter the Eagles were trailing 17 to 0. Both offenses were doing nothing. Ronde Barber got both touchdowns with pass interceptions totaling just over 100 yards.
In the 2002 NFC Title Game, Philadelphia was on a drive with the ball on the Bucs eight. Score Tampa 20 the Eagles 10 . I just knew the the Eagles would get a touchdown. With only three minutes left the Eagles still had a chance. I though the Eagles would win easily; but the offense was really off key after Duce Staley’s early 30 yard touchdown run. Brian Mitchell set up this score with a great punt return. Now Ronde Barber ended all hopes with a 92 yard interception and return for a touchdown.
In 06, Philadelphia finally scored with a TD pass from Donovan McNabb to Thomas Tapeh with eight seconds left in the third quarter. The Eagles began to move the ball but lost in the end. On the final play, Matt Bryant kicked a 62 yard field goal and the Eagles lost 23 to 21.
We all know that a team on the rise or a Super Bowl contender has got to defeat mediocre teams. Anything less and the said team becomes mediocre as well. Just look at the Eagles teams in 1977 and 1978. The Eagles defeated the bad teams like the New York Giants, the New York Jets, the Saints and the Buccaneers. In 1979 came victories over really good football like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Washington Redskins
This year though the Eagles are looking bad with losses to Washington and Miami. Without winning both games next week, our playoff hope are over.
This year will be the first Thanksgiving at Detroit I have seen since 1970. That game was almost the sixth in a row that George Blanda had late game heroics for the Oakland Raiders. After trailing 14 to 0, Detroit came back to lead 21 to 14. In came Blanda with the ball at the Oakland 38 and just under four minutes remaining. After a 15 yard completion, it look like time for another photo finish. Blanda dropped a perfectly timed pass to Raymond Chester at the three yard line. Unfortunately, chester had gone in motion just a might too early which nullified the play.
A victory over Dallas is aways special. In previous articles, I have given my version of why. For now, I will state that Dallas is the symbol of right wing wealth in this country and the Cowboys had the nerve to call themselves America’s Team. This satisfaction of defeating Dallas has held even when the team was losing.
Nevertheless, the game should have been a route . The Eagles are way better than the Cowboys. Miami on Sunday will not be easy. There is a long way to go.
I recall in 2008 some of us predicted an NFC Title Game between Carolina and the Giants since both teams had 12-4 seasons. Neither team made it passed their first playoff game.