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Old School - EAGLES FLASHBACK: Rematch of Eagles v. Rams 1949 NFL Championship Game

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EAGLES FLASHBACK: Rematch of Eagles v. Rams 1949 NFL Championship Game

To open the 2010 season, the Eagles honored the 50th anniversary of their last NFL championship game victory, the 17-13 win over the Green Bay Packers at Franklin Field on December 26, 1960. Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin, Chuck Bednarik, and Tommy McDonald led the way that day in the championship game.

The Eagles wore their 1960 throwback uniforms opening day 2010,  the cheerleaders each sported Bednarik’s number 60 jersey, and the Packers were back in town to open the season and venture back to a time when Philadelphia was king of the football world.

It had the makings of a great day – to open a new season of hope and one that held a lot of promise. And of course to salute that 1960 championship squad.

It was going to be a great football day.

There was just one problem. No one sent the memo to the guys with the “G” on their helmets

The Packers beat the Eagles 27-20.

But that was last year!

Now that the 2011 season has arrived, optimism for the Birds is second only to Cheez Whiz on East Passyunk Avenue. Michael Vick has a long-term deal; DeSean Jackson is back; Nnamdi Asomugha is imitating a blanket and the City of Brotherly Love is primed for another championship run.

But they have to get by the St. Louis Rams first.

You see, just like last year, the Eagles are opening up against a team they beat in a NFL Championship game – the Los Angeles Rams back in 1949.

We do not want a repeat of opening day last year and objective minds don’t expect one. But call me superstitious, opening the season again with another team the Eagles stole a crown from just makes me a little more wary of Sam Bradford and his merry band of swirly helmet mates.

How about a redo of that ’49 title game?

December 18, 1949, Philadelphia Eagles v. Los Angeles Rams

1949 NFL Championship Game

The Eagles were defending NFL champions, having beaten the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a snowstorm in the 1948 brawl for it all. They finished 1949 as the best team in the league with an 11-1 record while featuring the best defense in the NFL.

Across the line of scrimmage that stingy defense stared down the barrel of the league’s most wide open offense that included then future Hall of Famers Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin and wide receiver Tom Fears.

While the locale of this championship was conducive to the winter wonderland-like conditions of the ’48 title game, typically sunny LA certainly dealt its fair share of meteorological challenges.

Three inches of rain fell in Los Angeles the night before the game and covered the field in mud.  Steve Van Buren the greatest running back in Eagles history set a then NFL playoff record with 196 yards rushing.

Although it was Van Buren who effectively kept the ball away from the high powered Rams’ offense throughout the game, the Eagles first touchdown in the second period came as a result a scoring drive that featured their only effective passing of the day. Eagles QB Tommy Thompson who threw for only 68 yards on the day, completed three passes for 58 yards: first to end Jack Ferrante for 11 yards; then to Ferrante again for 16 yards; and finally a 31 yard scoring strike to Hall of Fame end Pete Pihos.

In the third period the Eagles trapped the Rams deep in their own end and when Waterfield tried to punt, a high snap allowed defensive end Leo Skladany to block the kick. He scooped up the mud stained ball at the 2 yard line and scored easily.

Final score: Eagles 14 Rams 0.

The muddy mess ended with the high powered Rams gaining only 109 total yards. The Eagles became the first and the only team to win back to back championships with shutouts.

One by snow and one by rain.

This week the elements will not factor into the equation unless the Rams are affected by air conditioning.

Nevertheless, let’s hope history, circa 1949 repeats itself.

Not 2010!


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