Score: Eagles 38, Giants 31
Date: Dec. 19, 2010 Site: New Giants Stadium
After the deeply frustrating exercise of picking three plays from the long history of the Philadelphia Eagles as the most memorable in franchise history, I could never second-guess the voters who selected the most recent "Miracle of the Meadowlands" play as No. 1.
It was a narrow vote, with DeSean Jackson's 65-yard, game-winning punt return edging out Herm Edwards' improbable game-winning fumble recovery in the 1978 "miracle" game. The bigger surprise was how far behind (9 percent of the vote) Wilbert Montgomery's touchdown run in the 1980 NFC title game finished.
But I think this gets at the issue pretty directly. Our top three had zero plays by Randall Cunningham or Donovan McNabb, zero by Reggie White or Brian Dawkins, zero by Chuck Bednarik or Steve Van Buren. And yet, every one of those players made any number of plays worthy of consideration.
So what are we really looking for? Cunningham bouncing off Carl Banks on "Monday Night Football" was a definite "wow" moment, but what did the play ultimately mean? One of the toughest final cuts was McNabb’s fourth-and-26 throw to Freddie Mitchell. Yes, it was an astonishing play to help win a playoff game, but the Eagles lost the following week.
When you see fans voting for great plays that led to championships, it’s a painful reminder that the Eagles haven’t won one of those since 1960. In their victory against the Green Bay Packers that season, Bednarik made a game-saving tackle of Jim Taylor. That play probably belonged on the short list, too, but how many fans have even seen it at this point?
Meanwhile, Jackson’s "miracle" return at the new Giants’ stadium in East Rutherford was voted best play in NFL history a couple years ago. That is pretty hard to ignore, even if you allow for the impact of Youtube and social media and being on an endless loop on SportsCenter.
Bednarik didn’t have any of that. Neither did Randall or Reggie. So what makes a play unforgettable?
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders have spoken.