Two decades ago -- 20 years ago, just about to the week -- the Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys on the final day of the 1988 season. They needed this incredible bank shot to win the NFC East and make the playoffs for the first time since 1981 -- a win at Dallas and a loss by the Giants against the Jets at the Meadowlands.
This, though, was bigger.
We all know it now: the Bucs lost and the Bears lost and then the Eagles went out and dismantled the Cowboys, 44-6. With that, the Eagles earned the final NFC wildcard with a 9-6-1 record and a first-round playoff game at Minnesota.
Yes, this was bigger.
That day was a triumph of still-young satellite television technology, and some ingenuity. Texas Stadium had a satellite TV system so we knew in the press box that the Giants were falling apart at the end -- it was the only NFL stadium where that was possible. But then, through a telephone messenger system from the press box to the field, the Eagles' bench was kept apprised as the whole fortunate business unfolded.
This was so different, yet similar. Fans in the stadium crowded around concourse televisions to cheer on the Raiders over the Bucs. And then, handed their destiny for the second time in two weeks thanks to the collapsing Bucs, the Eagles held on to it this time, absolutely pulverizing the Cowboys in a game where the winner would go to the playoffs and the loser would go home. Their domination was total.
It was the game a disgruntled Eagles fan base has been waiting for all season, delivered at the last possible moment. It was a day that fans of this team will talk about for years. The Eagles were about a 10-1 shot at the start of the day, a 10-1 shot to make it, no better -- and it happened.