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Yesterday column: Eagles-Giants rivalry

What was one of the most memorable Eagles-Giants games?

If you’re a diehard Eagles fan, a Christmas game with the Giants may be an ideal gift. That being said, an Eagles fan might want the Cowboys on Christmas instead.

But if you’re a graybeard, you remember the Eagles-Giants rivalry being just as intense as those with the boys from Dallas. The Philly-New York meeting Monday afternoon at 4:30 at the Linc will mark the 182nd clash, with the Eagles holding a 92-87-2 advantage in the series.

Lately, however, the Eagles have dominated the series at home, winning the last 10 dating back to 2013.

In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about sports and pop culture in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and sometimes before and beyond - I’ll take a look at five former showdowns between the two teams that were offered in a recent Times News Facebook Sports page online poll.

The games in the poll were the 1976 game of the “Miracle at the Meadowlands,” a 1960 game in which the Eagles’ Chuck Bednarik knocked out Frank Gifford, a 1981 Wild Card game won by the Giants, a 2010 game in which the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson returned a game-winning 65-yard punt, and a 1988 game in which the Eagles’ Clyde Simmons returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown.

Also, I’ll take a look at some Christmas-related sports and pop culture events. Some thoughts ahead ... How was Moses related to Christmas? What duo had the top-selling Christmas album in 1978?

So was the “Miracle of the Meadowlands” the most memorable game?

And the winner is ... The “DeSean Jackson” game on Dec. 19, 2010 - or the “Miracle at the Meadowlands II” and “New Miracle at the New Meadowlands” - was the top vote getter, as it accumulated 68% of the vote.

Jackson became the first player in NFL history to win a game by scoring on a punt return as time expired. The victory, in which Philly rallied from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit, allowed the Eagles to progress to the playoffs.

The flamboyant Jackson raced horizontally across the field at the Giants’ 5-yard line and into the end zone before he threw the ball into the crowd for a 38-31 victory in the first year of MetLife stadium.

A Giant Rob-bery ... The Eagles-Giants 1981 Wild Card play game on Dec. 7, 1981 drew the second-most attention in the poll, garnering 15%.

The Birds were heavy favorites off their Super Bowl appearance, and the Giants turned to Delaware grad Scott Brunner at quarterback.

Brunner helped make the difference in the game with three touchdowns passes - two of which helped the Giants to a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter that shocked the Vet Stadium crowd.

But the true difference was running back Rob Carpenter, who was unstoppable with his 161 yards rushing, notably in the fourth quarter that sealed the win.

Who was the Giants’ coach at the time? Try Ray Perkins.

The Classic and the rest ... For most of us, the classic game is still “The Miracle of the Meadowlands,” which took 10%.

The 6-5 Eagles were a rising team, while the 5-6 Giants were in a rebuild with aging running back Larry Csonka and quarterback Joe Pisarcik.

After the Giants’ Odis McKinney - remember him, New York fans? - picked off a Ron Jaworski pass, the Giants could have run out the remaining 1:23 on the clock and secured a 17-12 victory with a few snaps.

But Pisarcik flubbed a handoff to Csonka, and the Eagles’ Herm Edwards raced 26 yards to the end zone with the recovered fumble for a 19-17 win.

Concrete Charlie and Clyde ... On Nov. 10, 1960, an Eagles-Giants matchup featured “The Hit,” one of the most famed plays in NFL history. This game collected 6% of the vote.

With the Giants trailing 17-10 and driving, Gifford caught a pass in the left flat from quarterback George Shaw and headed toward the middle of the field. He was then hit and lowered by Bednarik and lost the ball.

The Eagles held on for the victory on their way to the NFL championship. Bednarik gained his nickname “Concrete Charlie” because he sold concrete from his Bethlehem home during the offseason.

And finally, Simmons played a prominent role in a 1988 overtime game - 1% of the vote - which the Eagles won 23-17.

Eagles’ kicker Luis Zendejas lined up for a game-winning field goal just inside the Giants’ 15-yard line on third down. His attempt was blocked and picked up behind the line of scrimmage at the Giants’ 15-yard line by Simmons, who ran it into the end zone.

After much discussion among the officials, it was determined that since it was only third down, Simmons was allowed to advance the ball.

Holy Moses ... Making his first return trip to Philly on Christmas Day in 1986, Moses Malone scored 28 points, had 21 rebounds and five blocks in the Washington Bullets’ 102-97 victory.

Malone was traded along with Terry Catledge and two first-round drafts picks to the Bullets in July for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson. Ruland was a flop, as he was done with a knee injury after five games, and Robinson was a serviceable player.

After Ruland went down, who were the Sixers’ centers? Does Tim McCormick, Charles Shackelford, Rick Mahorn, or Mike Gminski sound familiar?

A Rabbit and a Carpenter ... Over the years, there has been a plethora of live and animated Christmas specials that have crossed our lives.

In 1979, “Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales” premiered. It was a series of short cartoon revivals of “A Christmas Carol” and “The Fright Before Christmas,” as well as a new short titled “Freeze Frame.” Bugs was joined by usual friends Elmer Fudd, the Tasmanian Devil, Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote.

A year earlier, the Carpenters aired “A Carpenters Christmas Memory” TV special that featured the duo highlighting their Christmas songs in a holiday party atmosphere. The Carpenters also had the top-selling Christmas album of the year with the same title.

Another Classic Game ... In 1962, Avalon Hill released the initial version of its “Football Strategy” game. There were subsequent versions into the early 1970s.

It was formatted in which the defense had 10 formation cards with schemes such as an eight-man front, goal-line stand, and pass prevent. The offense had a choice of 20 plays including the option to punt. The only exception was for “long gains,” and the outcome of each play against each defense is the same. The offense chose a “pro style,” “aerial game,” or “ball control.”

Dice were rolled to determine the distance of long gains and the results of kickoff and field goal attempts.

It was a simple and effective game before the 70s “high tech” boom.

Memory Lane ... Each week I look back at a former player, coach, manager, or media personality who was part of our yesterday. This week, I’ll take a look at an ex-Eagle and an ex-Giant.

Do you remember Eagles’ linebacker Reggie Wilkes? He was a third-round pick from Georgia Tech in the 1978 draft. Wilkes was a steady, eight-year performer in his role for the Birds before he was traded in 1986 to the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent his final two years. Wilkes demanded a trade after he was demoted by head coach Buddy Ryan.

Do you remember Giants’ running back Doug Kotar? He was an undrafted free agent who made the Giants in 1974 and played seven seasons, gaining 3,380 career yards with 20 touchdowns. His best season was in 1976 when he gained 731 yards.

Kotar abruptly retired in July 1982, citing severe massive headaches as well as knee and shoulder pain. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and tragically passed away at 32 in 1983.

A lasting memory ... One football game I will never forget is the Chiefs-Dolphins AFC divisional playoff on Christmas Day 1971, the longest football game in league history that lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds. Miami won it, 27-24, on Garo Yepremian’s 37-yard field goal.

Final thoughts ... Amidst all of the sports, let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas. I am grateful for you the readers, and to Emmett McCall, Scott Pagel, Rod Heckman, Patrick Matsinko, TJ Engle, Mike Haines, and Rich Strack, who all have made my opportunity possible.

Feedback ... Your thoughts, ideas, and comments are always welcome at tnpsorts@tnoline.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!