Following their first-round bye, the Eagles finally have a playoff opponent: the division-rival New York Giants. Eagles vs Giants has already been played twice this year with Philadelphia sweeping the regular season series. However, the Giants enter this game with all the momentum after an upset win over Minnesota in the wildcard round, giving this game some much needed hype.
The teams have obviously seen each other countless times throughout the years. However, this is just the fifth time the teams will have met in the playoffs. The Eagles lead the all-time series 91-87-2, and as you’ll see below, the playoffs have followed a similar trajectory.
Eagles vs Giants Throughout Playoff History
Game One: 1981 NFC Wildcard Round – December 27, 1981
The season following the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance, the Eagles hosted the Giants in the wildcard round. The teams split the regular season series, with Philadelphia taking their week one matchup while New York won the week 12 showdown. The teams entered as the fourth and fifth seeded teams in the tournament (in 1981, there were only three divisions per conference, meaning there were only five playoff teams from the NFC–the three division winners plus the two next best teams), giving them an opportunity to break the tie.
However, despite coming in with the better record, the Eagles couldn’t overcome an early Giants’ lead. New York would take a 20-0 first quarter lead before going into the half up 27-7. Ron Jaworski and co. wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, scoring twice in the second half to narrow the Giant lead to six, but the late push wouldn’t be enough. Philadelphia was held to their fourth lowest yardage total of the season, including their third lowest rushing total, while Giants’ running back Rob Carpenter outpaced the Eagles’ passing attack by himself.
The Giants would then move on to the divisional round where they would meet a strong up-and-coming franchise, the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers, led by future Hall of Famer Joe Montana, would handedly beat New York on the path to their first ever Super Bowl championship, setting up the dynasty to come. Despite the unfortunate end to the Eagles’ season, it’s safe to say that their fate would’ve been the same no matter the result.
Game Two: 2000 NFC Divisional Round – January 7, 2001
The franchises would have to wait 19 years for their next playoff matchup, this time with different situations. The Eagles came in as a wildcard team, needing to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to a divisional round bout. Meanwhile in New York, the Giants rolled to a 12-4 record, holding the NFC’s one seed entering the playoffs. Philadelphia handled business in round one, setting up the third Eagles vs Giants matchup of the season.
However, Philadelphia never really stood a chance. The Giants would go up 17-0 before halftime, taking a stranglehold on the game and never letting it go. Neither offense was particularly productive, with Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb tossing the only offensive touchdown of the game for either team. The Giants got their two touchdowns from a game-opening kick return and a pick six right before the half.
The Giants would ride this momentum all the way to the Super Bowl, losing the championship to the newly founded Baltimore Ravens. Led by Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson, Baltimore’s ferocious defense couldn’t be solved, holding the Giants to just one score in a 34-7 beatdown.
Game Three: 2006 NFC Wildcard Round – January 7, 2007
Exactly six years later, Eagles vs Giants would take place again in the playoffs, this time with Philadelphia as hosts. This would be the Eagles first playoff appearance since losing to the New England Patriots in the 2004 Super Bowl (not to mention three straight NFC championship losses from ’01 to ’03), while the Giants were hunting for their first playoff win since their 2000 Super Bowl appearance. What made this game interesting, however, was the fact that McNabb was recovering from a torn ACL.
Yep, the Eagles had to rely on backup quarterback Jeff Garcia in this one, making the Eagles underdogs despite winning their division. The game ended up being a pretty good one, too, with a late Giants field goal knotting the score at 20. The Eagles would need a game-winning drive, and with zeros on the clock, David Akers would provide just that with a field goal, giving the Eagles a 23-20 victory. Eagles’ running back Brian Westbrook played an instrumental role in the win, rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The Eagles would fall to the Saints in the next round, but regardless, the Eagles had finally concurred their division rival in the playoffs. However, this wouldn’t end up meaning much in the long run as the Giants would end up winning the Super Bowl just one year later.
Game Four: 2008 NFC Divisional Round – January 11, 2009
Just two years later, the Eagles and Giants would face off again, this time with New York having won their third Lombardi trophy. Eli Manning and co. started their Super Bowl defense strong with an 11-1 record before a week 14 loss to Philadelphia derailed the season. The Giants would drop three of their last four games heading into the playoffs, but still managed to hold the NFC’s one seed. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Eagles were on a roll, beating Minnesota on the road to advance to the divisional round.
This time with a healthy McNabb, the game was poised for offensive firepower. However, that wasn’t what happened at all. The teams battled in a back-and-forth slugfest through three quarters, with the Eagles taking a 13-11 lead into the game’s final stage. A quick McNabb touchdown to tight end Brent Celek gave the birds a nine-point cushion, and with that, Philadelphia was able to grind down the clock and walk away with a 23-11 win. The Giants’ Super Bowl defense was over before it started.
Philadelphia would take this momentum into Arizona, a team they’d beaten 48-20 earlier in the season, where they would… lose? In a shocking turn of events, the red-hot Eagles, holding a 25-24 lead, would give up a touchdown with less than three minutes to go against the Kurt Warner-led Cardinals, sending Philly packing in their fourth NFC Championship loss in eight years. The Cardinals would lose to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, but for the Eagles, this would be the closest they would get to a championship until 2017.
Bonus Game: 2010 Week 15 – December 19, 2010
No, this isn’t a playoff game, but in recent memory, no regular season game between the two franchises has meant more than this one. Perhaps “2010 Week 15” doesn’t ring a bell, but maybe this will: Miracle at the New Meadowlands. That’s right, Desean Jackson’s iconic walk-off punt return didn’t just cap one of the greatest comebacks ever, but also played a significant role in the NFC East playoff race.
2010 saw the two historic franchises battling for the division crown, with both teams holding 9-4 records entering week 15. With two weeks left following the game, the contest by no means cemented the standings, but with Philadelphia already being a game up in the series, the Eagles could clinch a tiebreaker with the win. However, the Giants would race to a 24-3 lead before halftime, scoring again with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter to take a 31-10 lead. But then… well, you know.
The Michael Vick-led Eagles, despite losing their last two games, won the NFC East, mostly due to the all-time Giants collapse in week 15. The Eagles fell to the Packers in the wildcard round that year, but it doesn’t take away from the instant classic played just three weeks prior. The Eagles vs Giants rivalry has provided us with plenty of thrillers throughout the years, but none were quite as special as this one.