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On This Date in Sports November 12, 1990: Body Bag Game

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Discussing his upcoming Monday Night match up with the Washington Redskins, Buddy Ryan, coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, said his team would inflict a beating so bad that the Redskins “will have to be carted off in body bags.” Ryan’s boast would come true as nine Redskins left the game with an injury. Among the injured were two quarterbacks forcing Washington to use Brian Mitchell in the fourth quarter as the Eagles won the game 28-14.

 Entering a Monday Night divisional matchup with the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles coached by Buddy Ryan had a record of 4-4. The Eagles got off to a slow start that season, winning just one of their first four games. The Eagles and Redskins were fighting for the Wild Card as the New York Giant had a comfortable lead in the NFC East. In the lead up to the game, Buddy Ryan proclaimed that his team would inflict a beating so bad that the Redskins would need body bags. 

 The Washington Redskins coached by Joe Gibbs were grinding through a tough season. After a 3-1 start, the Redskins had a record of 5-3 as they prepared for their second meeting with the Eagles. The Redskins were playing without starting quarterback Mark Rypien who injured his knee in Week 3. The Redskins beat the Eagles 13-7 in the first meeting at RFK Stadium three weeks earlier. 

 The game started well for the Eagles, as William Frizzell returned an interception 30 yard for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Jeff Rutledge atoned for his mistake by connecting with Don Warren on an eight-yard touchdown pass. The game was tied 7-7 at the half, but the injuries began to mount for Washington, as the Eagles took control of the game with three touchdowns in the third quarter. 

 The Eagles took the lead with a nine-yard option pass from Keith Byars to Heath Sherman. Jeff Rutledge was knocked out of the game when blindsided by Wes Hopkins on a safety blitz. On the play, Clyde Simmons picked up a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles would add second touchdown reception by Sherman, this time from Randall Cunningham for two yards. 

 As the injuries mounted, the crowd at Veterans Stadium fed into the atmosphere, loudly cheering each time a player from the Redskins was carried off the field. One Eagle player shouted out, “Do You Need More Body Bags,” Stan Humphries, who came into the game to replace Jeff Rutledge, was among the inured. At the time, teams could only dress two quarterbacks, leaving Gary Hogeboom inactive. This forced the Redskins to turn to kick return specialist Brian Mitchell to enter the game at quarterback. Mitchell played quarterback at Southwestern Louisianan and managed to play well as he had a three-yard run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

 Following their 28-14 loss, the beat-up Redskins were fortunate to get back Mark Rypien, who missed eight weeks with a knee injury. The Redskins would finish the season with a record of 10-6. The Eagles also finished 10-6. This setup a rematch at Veterans Stadium in the Wild Card round. This time the Redskins beat the Eagles 20-6. Making the revenge eve sweeter, Buddy Ryan was fired by the Eagles following the game. The Reskins would lose to the San Francisco 28-10 in Divisional Round but won the Super Bowl the following season. 

 The BodyBag Game, as it became known, would lead to rule changes allowing teams to dress a third quarterback as an emergency. The rule state that if the third quarterback entered the game before the fourth quarter, neither of the first two quarterbacks could return.