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The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the most memorable Steelers vs. Eagles contests

BTSC relives the most memorable Steelers vs. Eagles games.

Philadelphia Eagles v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Pirates/Steelers and Eagles were both team’s truest and original rivals since 1933, when the Philadelphia franchise was admitted to the NFL as a replacement for the bankrupt Frankfort Yellow Jackets. From 1934-1966, the two teams played twice a season, except during the war effort when they teamed up in 1943 as the green-clad Steagles. Philly has always seemed to have an advantage over Pittsburgh with a mark of 48-29-3. Owning win streaks of seven, five and four, Philly hasn’t lost more than four games in a row to Pittsburgh since the 1930s. The Steelers haven’t put together more than two-in-a-row over the Eastern PA team since 1962.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape:

Points: Eagles 1527, Steelers 1154

Wins: Eagles 48, Steelers 23

Home Record: Eagles 28-9-2, Steelers 20-20-1

Ties: 3 - Eagles 20, Steelers 20 (12/1/1963), Eagles 21, Steelers 21 (9/15/1963), Eagles 7, Steelers 7 (11/9/1941)

Shutouts: 11 - Steelers 7, Eagles 4 (Last shutout was Steelers 27, Eagles 0 on 11/3/1974)

Biggest Win Margin: Eagles 45, Steelers 3 (11/4/1945)

Closest Win Margin: Eagles 7, Steelers 6 (12/1/1957), Eagles 27, Steelers 26 (11/13/1988)

Overtime Games: - Eagles 26, Steelers 23 (11/12/2000)

Postseason Record: Eagles 1, Steelers 0

December 21, 1947 - Eagles 21, Steelers 0 (1947 NFL Divisional Playoff Game)

In the first postseason game ever for either of the 8-4 Keystone State franchises, the Eastern Division was up for grabs at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh that day. The Eagles, coached by the legendary Earle “Greasy” Neale featured quarterback Tommy Thompson, halfback Steve Van Buren and a tough defense. To counter, Head Coach Jock Sutherland’s Steelers came in with tailback Johnny Clement and reliable receiver in end Val Jansante. But there was dissension in the ranks with the Steelers players rankled due to not getting extra pay. The Eagles got on the board first when rookie Pete Pihos blocked Bob Cifers’ punt, giving Philly the ball at the Pittsburgh 14. To capitalize, Thompson threw to Steve Van Buren for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead with Cliff Patton’s point after. In the second quarter, it was Thompson again throwing, this time, to Black Jack Ferrante for a 25-yard scoring connection and a 14-0 advantage that lasted to the half. With Thompson injured in the second half, the Eagles kept the ball largely on the ground, but special teams stepped up when Bosh Pritchard took a punt and returned it 79 yards to glory and a 21-0 lead. Late in the third quarter, the Steelers got all the way down to the Philadelphia nine on positive plays by Clement, Cifers, Tony Compagno and Elbie Nickel. but Clement fumbled his pass attempt, and the Steelers turned the ball over and downs. That was it for the Steelers, as their cross-state rivals controlled the clock the rest of the way for the 21-0 triumph. Philadelphia went on to win the NFL title over the Chicago Cardinals, while the Steelers would wait another 24 years to play in the postseason.

November 13, 1988 - Eagles 26, Steelers 24

The tables turned somewhere in the middle of the 1980s, as Philadelphia became the better gridiron club in the state of Pennsylvania with Randall Cunningham and a swift defense making Liberty Bell football mean something again. Meanwhile, the 2-8 Steelers were struggling to find competent quarterback play and were embroiled in their fourth-straight season of postseason rejection, residing near the bottom of the entire National Football League. In the early going, it appeared that the Steelers had appeased the football gods and were fixing to shock the Eagles and their home fans at Three Rivers Stadium. The Steelers got on the scoreboard with a Gary Anderson of 52 yards on their initial drive after forcing a Philadelphia punt. Jerry Reese and Hardy Nickerson met at the quarterback and sacked No. 12 to force another punt. Bubby Brister drove his charges down the field and the payoff was a handoff to Louis Lipps, who fired a 13-yard strike on the run into the open arms of running back Merrill Hoge, and Pittsburgh led 10-0 with Anderson’s extra point. After Philadelphia cut the lead to 10-7 with a one-yard Keith Byars run after a long catch by Chris Carter, the Steelers got two Gary Anderson field goals in their nest two series. The problem, though, was that Randall Cunningham drove again and called his own number for a 7-yard score. The score was made possible because Aaron Jones went bezerk after veteran Ron Heller calmly goaded the Steelers rookie first rounder into it. Instead of a Tim Johnson sack on 3rd and ten, the Eagles cashed-in their new life for seven crucial points. At the half, Philly trailed by the score of 16-14. After falling behind 17-16 on a Luis Zendajas field goal on the first possession of the third quarter, Brister went deep and the Three Rivers crowd went bonkers as Louis Lipps collected his second touchdown on an 89-yard bomb. Then both teams would get sloppy, and not sue to the light rain. Cunningham would get picked off on the next series by Thomas Everett, but the Steelers couldn’t convert. Then future orthopedic surgeon Gregg Carr popped Byars and the ball squirted into the welcome arms of veteran David Little to set the A pivotal moment came in the fourth with the Steelers up 23-17 in the fourth. a rushing Greg Lloyd rocked Cunningham and Rod Woodson intercepted the ball deep in Steelers territory, but the Steelers defense appeared to make a fantastic stop to start the fourth quarter. Randall Cunningham was nailed by Greg Lloyd on a fierce pass rush, and Rod Woodson intercepted the football deep in Pittsburgh territory. However, Lloyd’s collision was of the head-first variety, was called, and negated the play to give Philly a first down and new life.

To follow, Cunningham cashed-in with a rushing touchdown and the Eagles led 24-23. But yet again, Hoge and Brister sparked the offense enough to allow Gary Anderson to answer with a field goal, and Pittsburgh led at the two-minute warning 26-24. Conservative play calling by Chuck Noll and Tom Moore really hurt the home team in the end. With a 1st and 10 on the Eagles 29, the coaches elected to keep it on the ground and not go for the jugular. The decision had the potential for payoff, but disaster strikes 2-8 teams. Philly, facing a 3rd and 10 at the 50 saw Cunningham roll out to avoid the rush and float one on the run in the vicinity of Lupe Sanchez. The Steelers defensive back was in perfect position to intercept but slipped on the semi-damp turf and a now wide-open Chris Carter came up with the pigskin at the Steelers 8. The mistake set up Luis Zendejas for an easy three and a 26-24 Eagles win, leaving the Steelers fans wondering if their opponents were actually eagles, because they felt snake bitten again.

December 11, 1994 - Steelers 14, Eagles 3

If all that you like from your December football game are fireworks displays on offense, then this game was definitely not your cup of tea. Then again, not too many football fans are sipping Tetley over Iron City. The Steelers were enjoying a fine season and looking for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs at a mark of 10-3 with five-straight wins, while the once 7-2 Eagles were mired in a five-game drought that would stretch to the offseason. It appeared that there could be plenty of offense on the very first possession of the game with the kelly green visitors getting down to the 3, but the “Defense of the 90s” (as the Steelers were dubbed in this game because of their jersey numbers predominantly starting with a nine) shut the door, and Philly was relegated to an Eddie Murray field goal and a 3-0 lead that would hold until the fourth quarter. Before Neil O’Donnell and the offense got going, the Blitzburgh defense featuring Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, Rod Woodson, and Company dominated, allowing only 105 total yards of offense. The aforementioned Company, featuring a Darren Perry interception and sacks by Ray Seals, Deon Figures, and Chad Brown helped limit Herschel Walker to a mere 52 yards, and Randall Cunningham’s only completed 33.3% of his 27 passes with only nine completions for 59 yards. When the offense finally turned it on, they did so in a span of three minutes in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh would score twice on a majestic touchdown grab by Andre Hastings and a John L. Williams (94 rushing yards) three-yard bulldozing into the end zone after the Perry pick. Bill Cowher’s team may have seemed to struggle on paper, but the Steelers played without top back Barry Foster, and Bam Morris, Eric Green, and Woodson all went out at some point during the contest. On a day when points were at a premium, the Steelers proved to be worth the wait and worth their weight in black and gold.

November 12, 2000 - Eagles 26, Steelers 23 (OT)

The Steelers of the new millennium started out in a manner that made Steelers Nation wish that “the end of the world Y2K scare” was actually a thing as they began the 2000 season at a disturbing 0-3. But fans would climb out of the bunker when Bill Cowher’s black and gold would reel off five consecutive victories, and with the 6-4 Philadelphia Eagles coming to town, the Steelers had a chance to keep the streak going and forge a playoff berth. Also, beating a cross-state rival would be a feather in a cap and a cherry on top all at once. The game started out with both Keystone State clubs trading punts for the first four possessions. With 2:48 remaining in the quarter, the Steelers made the first mistake of the game when Bobby Taylor committed a theft of a Kordell Stewart pass and returned it all the way to the Pittsburgh 17. But the Blitzburgh Defense, with a three-and-out, held Andy Reid’s Eagles to a 26-yard field goal from David Akers. Donovan McNabb would widen the lead on Philly’s next series with a drive in which they only gained 25 yards and another 53 on penalties. McNabb’s 2-yard toss to Jeff Thomason for a 10-0 lead. The Steel City football club would climb back in before halftime with six points courtesy of Kris Brown’s toe (38, 52) and a 10-6 score. In the second half, Akers converted from 45 to start the third quarter, but 17-unanswered points that included a Jerome Bettis rumble from the 7, a Joey Porter 32-yard fumble return to glory, and another Brown field goal put the Steelers ahead in the fourth quarter, put the black and gold up by the score of 23-13 with 3:43 remaining. The Steelers defense was dominating, and the Eagles had less than a 100-yards of offense. But when his back was against the wall, the young QB put his team on it and drove quickly downfield to within three with a 13-yard pass play for the score in only 73 seconds. The Eagles onside kick attempt was no surprise, but Philly having to kick again after recovering the 9 12-yard effort was. Why? Because they recovered two in a row. McNabb got his team in field goal position and Akers converted to send it into overtime. In overtime, the Eagles won the coin toss and McNabb completions to former Steeler Charles Johnson on third down, and a 16-yard pass to Stanley Pritchett put the ball at the Steelers’ 28-yard line. Akers converted and the Steelers watched helplessly as playoff hopes dimmed once again and Steeler Nation contemplated how to store enough pierogis and Primanti sandwiches in a bunker to last a lifetime.

November 7, 2004 - Steelers 27, Eagles 3

The Steelers were riding high after trouncing the undefeated New England Patriots at home the week before and enjoying the quarterbacking exploits of a certain rookie from Miami of Ohio, who had won his first five starts and was capturing the hearts of Steelers Nation. Meanwhile, the cross-state rivals known as the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles were rolling into town with Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and a suffocating defensive corps as the home team in hypocycloids were sans their spectacular rusher Duce Staley and the defensive mountain known as Casey Hampton. The Steelers wasted no time in establishing dominance in this game by jumping on “The Bus”. With an injured Staley in street clothes, Jerome Bettis converted a fourth and one, as well as gaining 34 yards on the Steelers’ opening series. Facing a 3rd-and-13 from the Philly 32, the rookie Ben Roethlisberger avoided a rush and took off for a first down of 16 yards to extend the drive. On the very next play, Hines Ward took it on an end-around for another 16 and the score. Hines punctuated the TD by flapping his arms and mocking the patented celebration of T.O. in the end zone. for an early 7-0 lead. The Eagles attempt to counter was futile as Larry Foote sacked McNabb on third down to force a three-and-out and a punt, which would become somewhat of a theme for the game. Then Ben converted another third down with a pass to Ward that he took down the left side line all the way to glory and a chance to dance again. With 2:27 remaining in the first quarter, the Steelers led by two touchdowns, 14-0. After stopping the Eagles again, the home team found the end zone on a third consecutive series. Verron Haynes caught a big ball for a gain of 26 to get them into scoring range again, and No. 7 found TE Jay Riemersma, who was covered well by Jeremiah Trotter, in the end zone for the touchdown. Steelers 21, Eagles 0. The Eagles finally started to rally late in the second quarter, but tough defense by Ike Taylor and Kendrell Bell forced them to have to settle for a 33-yard David Akers FG. On the sidelines, Owens (unhappy with his involvement) was found hounding and incessantly yapping at McNabb on the sideline, who apparently didn’t want to hear it and furiously tried to outrun and ignore him. In fact, that was the most offensive thing the Eagles did all day. On the next series, with the Steelers approaching midfield again, Ben was picked by future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins who ran it back 32 yards to give the Eagles good field position. But they were unable to do anything with the opportunity.

In the third period, Plaxico’s one-handed hotdogging made the ball pop out-of-bounds at the 22 on a play that seemed like a sure score. Jeff Reed then missed a 33-yard field goal, as the lead remained at 18. On the next drive, Philadelphia was piercing into Steelers territory as T.O. was starting to heat up. But McNabb, under pressure from Aaron Smith, forced a pass that was picked off by James Farrior. that led to a Reed 42-yarder and a 24-3 lead with 2:36 left in the third. Farrior’s great day continued on the next Eagles’ drive as he sacked McNabb. The Eagles had to punt again. But Ben tripped and botched the handoff and the ball ended up in the hands of Michael Lewis as the third quarter expired. In the fourth quarter, the veteran Willie Williams came alive on back-to-back plays. First with coverage on a long pass to Todd Pinkston and then with a sack of McNabb on the next play. The Steelers ended up with the ball again after that and drained tons of clock behind the running of Bettis and the versatility of Antwaan Randle-El. Reed converted another field goal to set the final at 27-3. Bill Cowher showed a lot of class, declining to press his advantage when the Steelers had a chance to run up the score. Willie Parker had his first career carry and it contributed to the rushing total of 252 yards. The Eagles, in turn, only had 21. The Steelers also dominated time of possession to the tune of 41:49 to 18:11. With what was supposed to be an epic battle of Pennsylvania powerhouses ended up be a one-sided affair. Both teams were hoping to meet up in the Super Bowl, but the Patriots ended the Steelers championship hopes a game before they did the same to Andy Reid’s Eagles.

October 7, 2012 - Steelers 16, Eagles 14

In 2012, the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles had a penchant for close games, largely because Michael Vick’s ability to pull things out in the end. The Steelers, on the other hand, were struggling at 1-2 and coming off of a bye week. The home team had high hopes of a turnaround though, with Rashard Mendenhall making a triumphant return after an ACL tear in the 2011 regular season finale against Cleveland. Mike Tomlin’s team were also about to enjoy the services of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, who were returning as well. There was nary a threat to score until the 5:42 mark of the first quarter when Vick had driven his team to the precipice of glory, but the quarterback fumbled the ball after a hit by Ryan Clark and a Larry Foote recovery put an end to those plans. The play was challenged but upheld. Conversely, the Eagles Andy Reid red-flagged and got overturned by a Vick fumble earlier in the drive that was recovered by Lawrence Timmons, who was a force in this game. The Steelers would then relegate the visitors to goose eggs in the first half thanks to a Michael Vick fumble into the end zone on a QB draw (forced by Ryan Clark, recovered by Larry Foote). Pittsburgh’s only touchdown of the game came on a Ben Roethlisberger 11-yard screen to Mendenhall midway through the second. Shaun Suisham would add a field goal after Jerricho Cotchery stumbled just shy of the goal line. But the Eagles fight back and go ahead 14-13 on a short Michael Vick TD pass to Brent Celek with 6:33 remaining in the game. It situations like this, what separates the haves from the have-nots, is a big time closer in pressure cooker situations. Big Ben Roethlisberger needed to be that closer, and he did just that with a methodical final drive starting at his own 10-yard line that went for 15 plays and chewed up the entire clock. Ben converted a pair of critical 3rd down conversions along the way to set up Shaun Suisham’s 34-yd game-winner as time expired.