I think of what might have been. In 2003, the Eagles had to win the final game at Washington to assure the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Had they beaten either San Francisco or Dallas earlier, the Eagles could have rested their first string and the last game would have been for practice. As it was Philadelphia defeated the Washington Redskins 31 to 7. Brian Westbrook was hurt in the final game and that ended his season. Philadelphia lost in the NFC title game 14 to 3 to the Carolina Panthers.
About a month earlier, also at the Linc also, the Eagles had defeated the Panthers 25 to 16. That was with a healthy Brian Westbrook and all other players in tact. They also saw Panther players kicker John Kasay, normally excellent, miss three field goals and an extra point. We will take victory any way so long as it’s viewed in the proper perspective.
I will never forget that criminal spear on Donovan McNabb who was flat on his back. The down by contact rule had nothing to do with what happened. A mere touch on McNabb was all that was required. The officials should have ejected this player and the league office fined him. Rickey Manning was on fire that day with three interceptions. I think that a healthy Brian Westbrook would have made a difference.
The team that laid the rotten egg won the game. The punters, for one play, looked very bad. Their team eventually won the game so there no immediate damage. However, the confidence in both kickers and teams took a severe dive.
Thanksgiving Day 1964. Chicago Bears at the Detroit Lions. Thanksgiving Day football in Detroit has been a tradition since 1945. Green Bay was the visiting team every year until 1964. Today it was the World Champion Chicago Bears. Bobby Joe Green, their punter, was the best in the NFL. Green was the first pure punter in the game. His great punts made up for his lack of versatility.
Bobby Joe Green played two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and 12 years with Chicago. His booming punts gave his team great field position. In 1963, the Chicago Bears were NFL Champions. Their offense was only average; but their defense and the punting of Bobby Joe were the real drivers in Chicago’s first place record of 11-2-1. The Bears were 1/2 game better the second place Green Bay Packers who were 11-2-1. Both of the Packers losses were to the Bears-10 to 3 opening day and 26 to 7 in November at Wrigley Field.
Bobby Joe Green was dubbed the Rain Maker from his punts that were both high and long. He played two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1960 to 1961) and 12 years with the Chicago Bears. (1962 to 1973). His statistics were 970 Punts, for 41, 317 yards, for a 42.6 yard average. His longest punt was 74 yards.
No doubt his punting style helped his statistics. Bobby Joe took the snap from center and with great coordination kicked the ball with his left foot off the ground about a foot. It was really graceful to see his right foot hit the ball at the high point of his jump with his left foot. I wondered why he did not teach dancing, ballet, or acrobatics.
He had his greatest embarrassment on Thanksgiving Day in 1964. This brings my narrative to its starting point 53 years ago. Bobby Joe Green took a good pass from center. Both the offensive and defensive line went downfield. Green began his jump and kicked the ball downfield, one yard from the line of scrimmage. This delighted the home field crowd and gave the Lions a touchdown.
I have never seen a one yard punt with no attempt to block it before or since.