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On This Date in Sports November 19, 1978: Miracle in the Meadowlands

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The New York Giants are just moments from a big win over the Philadelphia Eagles, leading 17-12 at Giants Stadium. With 30 seconds left Joe Pisarcik attempts to hand the ball to Larry Csonka but fumbles it, allowing Herm Edwards to scoop the ball and run it 26 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a stunning 19-17 win in what will be called the “Miracle in the Meadowlands”.

Longtime division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants had been struggling for over a decade. The Eagles with third-year coach Dick Vermeil had not made the postseason since 1960. The Giants meanwhile had not made the postseason since 1963, their coach John McVay was also in his third season coming on board just as the Giants moved into their stadium in the Meadowlands. The Eagles had come in their Week 12 game at the Meadowlands showing signs of life at 6-5. The Giants meanwhile were scuffling at 5-6, coming into the game with three straight losses.

The Giants playing as a two-point underdog at home got off to a great start as Joe Pisarcik had a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, one Bobby Hammond for 19 yards and another to Johnny Perkins for 30 yards to build a 14-0 lead. The Eagles got going in the second quarter, as Wilbert Montgomery had an eight-yard touchdown run. However, after Mike Michel missed the PAT, the Giants led 14-6 at the half. Joe Danelo hit a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter to expand the Giants lead to 17-6. In the fourth quarter, the Eagles got back in the game on a one-yard run by Mike Hogan and Michel again missed the extra point. The Eagles appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead late in the fourth quarter, as they got the ball in Giants territory after a fumble by Doug Kotar. However, just after the two-minute warning Odis McKinney picked off Ron Jaworski to seemingly seal the win. It was a rough day for the Eagles quarterback as Jaworski completed just 15 of 31 passes for 164 yards, with three interceptions. At the time, there was no kneel down rule, so quarterbacks in end-game situations had the ball to a running back or laid on the ground. One play before the fumble, Bill Bergey charged hard into the line trying to cause a fumble. This led Giants offensive coordinator to call for a handoff to Larry Csonka a play that both Pisarcik and Csonka disagreed with. Csonka and Pisarcik seemed confused going into the snap when chaos ensued. Joe Pisarcik bobbled the snap jamming his finger and turned to Csonka but the ball hit the Giants back in the side and hit the ground. At that moment Herm Edwards coming in on an all-out blitz scooped the ball away from Pisarcek who tried to get on the ball and went 26 yards for the game-winning score, as the Eagles had a stunning 19-17 win.

The fallout was immediate and swift in New York, as Bob Gibson was fired the following day. The fans, however, wanted more blood as they burnt their season tickets outside the gates of Giants Stadium the following week while a plane carrying a banner flew over the stadium demanding changes saying we had enough. The Giants would finish the season 6-10 as John McVay was fired following the season. The Miracle in the Meadowlands would be rock bottom for the Giants as they hired George Young as General Manager and began turning things around.  The Eagles meanwhile finished 9-7 and made the playoffs as a Wild Card.