Giants Fumble Away Season to Eagles
In Philadelphia, the play is still called the “Miracle of the Meadowlands” 30 years later, but in New York it will forever be “the Fumble.” In 1978, neither the Giants nor the Eagles had been in a playoff game for at least 15 years. In fact, the Giants’ record from 1964 through 1977 was 68-124-4, while the Eagles achieved a nearly identical mark of 68-122-6. In 1978, New York and Philadelphia were stumbling around on the outskirts of playoff contention and came into this Week 12 match with 5-6 and 6-5 records, respectively. It came as a surprise that this clumsily played game would be a turning point for each ill-managed franchise.
New York got off to an early lead as bargain-basement quarterback “Parkway Joe” Pisarcik led the Giants on a nine-play, 72-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass to Bobby Hammond halfway through the first quarter. Less than two minutes later, Brad Van Pelt intercepted a Ron Jaworski pass, and Pisarcik cashed in on a 30-yard strike to Johnny Perkins for a 14-0 lead.
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The Eagles got back into the game with 1:26 left in the half when Wilbert
Montgomery ran for an eight-yard touchdown. A bad snap on the extra point proved costly to Philadelphia; their kicker Nick Mike-Mayer was injured trying to throw a pass on the botched play. The Giants then moved into scoring position quickly, but Pisarcik was picked off in the end zone at the end of the first half.
Joe Danelo extended the Giants’ lead to 17-6 in the third quarter, but the Eagles closed the gap with less than four minutes remaining in the lackluster game when Mike Hogan bulled in from the 1-yard line. The touchdown came after the Birds had driven 91 yards in 13 plays, aided by three Giants penalties. Punter Mike Michel missed the extra point, and Philadelphia trailed 17-12.
Giants running back Doug Kotar fumbled the ball away at his 33 with 3:22 to play, but two minutes later cornerback Odis McKinney intercepted a Jaworski pass at the New York 10, seemingly preserving a victory that would leave both teams with 6-6 records. The Giants called three running plays and used up the Eagles’ timeouts. With 31 seconds left in the game, New York faced a third-and-two at their own 28. All
That’s the most horrifying ending to a ball game I have ever seen.
After a botched exchange between Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik and Larry Csonka, Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards pounces on the ill-timed fumble and returns it for the game-winning touchdown on November 19, 1978. (Photo courtesy of AP Images)
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