The lack of current, live sporting events on TV has led to a dramatic increase in classic games being shown all over the place. So that got me thinking about the most rewatchable games for each Philadelphia sports team. Keep in mind as we look at these, the era matters to some extent. For instance, the 1960 NFL Championship Game isn’t as pleasant to watch due to the limitations of television 60 years ago relative to more modern times.
1. Super Bowl LII - This one goes without much need for explanation. The Eagles win the Super Bowl for the first and only time in franchise history. It’s a high-scoring affair (41-33 in case you forgot) and includes numerous memorable moments. Oh yeah, it also includes the number one play in franchise history. You want Philly Philly?
2. December 10, 1995 vs Cowboys - The Eagles have won more important games against their archrival. They’ve won better played games against their archrival. But this game unfolds the way Eagles fans see the rivalry. The blue-collar Eagles make a 4th down stand. Then, the refs intervene to help America’s Team and give them another chance. So what do the ultra-arrogant Cowboys do? They run the exact same play that failed before. And it fails again. You also get to contrast Pat Summerall’s typically understated call with Merrill Reese’s “They stopped ‘em again!!!!!!”
3. 2003 NFL Divisional Playoffs vs Packers - All hope is lost. The Eagles have a 4th and 26 from deep into their own territory to keep the season alive. Somehow, Donovan McNabb finds Freddie Mitchell down the seam and (with the help of a generous spot) picks up a first down. David Akers hits a 37-yard field goal in the dying seconds to send the game to OT. For some reason, Brett Favre decides to give Brian Dawkins pop-up practice in the extra session and Akers delivers again to send the Birds to a 20-17 win.
4. December 8, 2013 vs Lions- The best of times for the Chip Kelly era. A blizzard rolls in right before kickoff so the field is covered in snow throughout. Football always looks better in the elements. The Lions’ Jeremy Ross accounts for two return TDs in this one and the Eagles trail 20-14 in the 4th quarter before ripping off 20 unanswered points. Kelly’s favorite player, LeSean McCoy, rushes for 217 yards and two scores.
5. September 17, 1989 vs Redskins - This game is all about hope. Randall Cunningham had just signed a long-term contract extension and delivers a 447-yard, 5 TD performance in DC against a perennial Super Bowl contender. The Eagles trail this game 20-0 before rallying for a 42-37 win. It’s arguably the apex of belief in the Buddy Ryan/Randall Cunningham era.
1. 2010 Eastern Conf. Semis Game 7 vs Bruins - After rallying from a 3-0 series deficit, the Flyers find themselves in a 3-0 hole in Game 7. James Van Riemsdyk scores before the end of the first period to provide some hope. Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere each tally in the 2nd to knot the game at 3. In the 3rd, Simon Gagne finds himself alone on a power play in the shooting pocket and capitalizes. Extra credit because this broadcast also has the reaction of Flyers fans losing their minds at Wells Fargo Center. 3-0 down in the series. 3-0 down in the game. 4-3. 4-3. We’ll never see it again.
2. 1987 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 vs Oilers - This is a great Flyers team that’s running on fumes as they face Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers in the heart of the Edmonton dynasty. The Flyers trail 3-2 in the series and 2-0 after one period. The Spectrum crowd is preparing itself for disappointment. But after a 2nd period Lindsay Carson goal slices the deficit to one, Brian Propp scores over Grant Fuhr’s glove with less than 7 minutes left in the 3rd to tie the game. Just over a minute later, the roof practically blows off the building when J.J. Daigneault fires a one-timer past Fuhr from the blue line. Many say The Spectrum has never been louder than in that moment. The Flyers hold on for a 3-2 win, forcing a Game 7 in Edmonton.
3. 1974 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 - From a pure viewership perspective, this is not the most visually appealing game. There’s only one goal and it’s a deflection from Rick MacLeish in the 1st period. But it’s not short on tension as the Flyers look to capture their 1st Stanley Cup. Bernie Parent makes save after save in the 3rd period to keep Bobby Orr and the Bruins off the board. Bonus points for the great Gene Hart call. “The Flyers win the Stanley Cup.”
4. 2000 Eastern Conf. Semis Game 4 vs Penguins - This is a game that didn’t offer much in the way of goals. There’s just three total tallies in eight periods of hockey. But the nervous energy that piles up over five overtimes cannot be matched. At a certain point, nearly everybody playing or watching knows the series is going to ride on the outcome of this game. In the 8th period, Keith Primeau cuts past Darius Kasparaitis and wrists a shot past Ron Tugnutt to give the Flyers the win. The Orange and Black did not lose again in the series, dispatching the Penguins in six games.
5. 1997 Eastern Conf Final Game 4 vs Rangers - One game after recording a hat trick, Eric Lindros plays the hero again. This time, “Big E” breaks a 2-2 tie with just under seven seconds left in regulation at MSG. At that moment, it’s apparent the Flyers are going to the Cup Final. It felt like a question of how many Cups the Flyers would win in the Lindros Era, not if they would capture one after this contest.
1. 2001 NBA Finals Game 1 vs Lakers - This game has everything. 18 second quarter points by Allen Iverson gives the Sixers a halftime lead. The Lakers respond to force OT and then score the first five points in the extra session. But the Sixers fight back with Iverson leading the way en route to 48 points. AI hits a 3-pointer to give the Sixers a 1-point lead. Then on the next possession, he nails the jumper over Ty Lue that leads to the iconic stepover.
2. 1983 NBA Finals Game 4 vs Lakers - The culmination of the most dominant run of playoff basketball the NBA had ever seen to that point. Four different Sixers score 20+ points as Dr. J and company finish off a sweep of the Lakers for the long-awaited NBA title. Maurice Cheeks’ euphoric dunk in the dying seconds lives on forever.
3. 2001 Eastern Conf. Semis Game 7 vs Raptors - This series saw a number of terrific individual performances between Allen Iverson and Vince Carter. But this game is a defensive slugfest. 6th Man of the Year award winner Aaron McKie stars in the 4th quarter when his team needs him most. And who could forget Carter, the UNC graduate, missing that last-second shot with the game in the balance?
4. 1982 Eastern Conf. Finals Game 7 vs Celtics - A year after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Celtics, the Sixers are in danger of doing it again as they visit Boston Garden for Game 7. But Andrew Toney earns his “Boston Strangler” moniker with a game-high 34 points as the Sixers punch their Finals ticket with a 120-106 win. The now-famed “Beat L.A.” chant originates from Celtics fans in the 4th quarter as the outcome becomes apparent.
5. 2001 Eastern Conf. Semis Game 2 vs Raptors - Allen Iverson scores 54 points and the Sixers need just about every one of them. Leading by a point with five minutes to play, Iverson runs off 11 consecutive Sixers points to push his team to a 97-92 win. It’s arguably his best performance.
1. 1980 NLCS Game 5 vs Astros - Good luck finding a more important game in Phillies history. Winner-take-all for the pennant and down 5-2 to Nolan Ryan, the Phillies get off the mat to score five in the 8th inning and take a 7-5 lead. Houston plates two in the bottom half to tie it. Then, Garry Maddox plays hero in the top 10th with a run-scoring double. Dick Ruthven holds off the Astros and Tim McCarver laughs maniacally in the broadcast booth as the Phils kill off years of demons.
2. 2008 NLCS Game 4 vs Dodgers - All signs pointed to the Dodgers tying the series as this game progressed. L.A. scores two in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Having been in Dodger Stadium that night, I can attest that it was as loud as an outdoor venue could possibly be. Until the 8th inning that is. Shane Victorino launches a game-tying 2-run homer to right. Then, Matt Stairs’ moonshot into the night gives the Phillies a 7-5 lead they would not relinquish. It was the night we all knew something special was happening.
3. 2008 World Series Game 5 - You knew it wouldn’t come easy. After 25 years of waiting, Philly fans had to wait out a 2-day rain delay for the chance to finally win a title. When play resumes, Geoff Jenkins connects on a pinch-hit double that leads to a go-ahead run. Following a Rocco Baldelli home run to tie the game, Pat Burrell picks up his first and only hit of the series, a double that comes around to score. In between, Chase Utley’s fake to first, throw to home saves a run. Then, Brad Lidge buries a slider on Eric Hinske to end a quarter century of frustrations. WSC.
4. 2010 NLDS Game 1 - A Roy Halladay masterpiece. Doc’s first career postseason start finishes with the 2nd no-hitter in MLB postseason history. By the 2nd inning, you knew he had the good stuff. By the 5th inning, you thought it was possible. By the 7th inning, you knew it was going to take a fluke hit to break it up. As special an individual performance as I’ve ever seen. 5.
5. August 30th, 2007 vs Mets - 21 total runs in 9 innings only begins to tell the full story of this Thursday matinee. The Phils jump out to 5-0 and 8-5 leads only to see the Mets put up a 5-spot in the top of the 8th for a 10-8 lead. Desperate for a win, New York turns to Billy Wagner for a two-inning save. But Pat Burrell and his one swing path hits a solo home run in the 8th. Then, Tadahito Iguchi knots the game in the 9th with a base hit before Chase Utley laces a single to right to win the game 11-10. Four-game sweep of the Mets complete. It turns out to be a massive outcome as the Phils won the division over the Mets by a single game.