Inside one unique Philadelphia Eagles Thanksgiving Day history

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

November 28th, 1968: Philadelphia Eagles 12 Detroit Lions 0

1968 is often seen as the darkest year in Eagles’ history, which says a lot given the history of this franchise. Joe Kuharich was the coach and had traded away most of the 1960 championship team, including future Hall of Famers Tommy McDonald and Sonny Jurgenson.

Going into the game, the Eagles were 0-11, but there was light at the end of this tunnel as the top prize in that year’s draft was USC running back O.J. Simpson. The Buffalo Bills, the only other team within striking distance,  had already won one game and tied another. So if the Eagles could just lose two of the last three games, Simpson was an Eagle.

Eagles fans have heard of the Fog Bowl, the Bounty Bowl (spoiler alert: we’ll get there), and the Snow Bowl, what might be lesser known to the casual fan however is this Thanksgiving game later dubbed “The Mud Bowl.” The 3-6-2 Detroit Lions and winless Eagles, along with the quagmire of a field, combined to play one of the ugliest Thanksgiving games in history.

There were 73 running plays for a total of only 234 yards. The Eagles managed only 161 yards of offense but won the game 12-0 on four field goals. It certainly helped that Lions quarterback Greg Landry threw three interceptions. The Eagles were later accused of swapping out dry balls for kicker Sam Baker’s four field goals, so it was basically the original  ‘Deflate-Gate’ except nobody cared since the Eagles were so awful.

The Eagles still had a chance to land Simpson however. Instead, they defeated the New Orleans Saints in an utterly meaningless regular-season finale. The Buffalo Bills drafted O.J. Simpson while the Eagles drafted defensive back Leroy Keyes. The pick after? The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene, setting both Pennsylvania franchises in opposite directions thanks to this Mud Bowl.