December 11, 1995. Eagles 20, Cowboys 17.
Time ran out and Jon Gruden pounded his fists jubilantly on the coaching box’s plexiglass window, the rhythmic thumps shaking the tiny cubicle. On the field below, as the Eagles danced and leaped, their heartbeats, not to mention those of their wildly whooping fans, must have sounded the same…
It was – particularly in the second half, when Philadelphia overcame an 11- point deficit – a display of banging, bruising December football as stirring as it was significant for the Eagles’ now-rosy playoff chances.
There was Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer, with the ball nestled on the unforgiving Vet Stadium turf, calling for a ballsy 4th and 1 run to Emmitt Smith. He was stopped. But the two minute warning intervened. Switzer had a chance to reevaluate his strategy during the break, but again went to Smith. And the Eagles stopped him again.
This photograph serves as a reminder that whatever personnel and schematic changes the Eagles make this offseason make, there, too, must be a little bit of this moxie–this heart on the field next season.
These teams weren’t nearly as talented, but their grit was unmistakable. Big statistics and popping lightbulbs with big scores is great, but the Eagles must find a way to play tough once again.