One of the greatest moments in sports archives history happened during an NFL Game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 19, 1978. Although this was not a playoff game, it is a memorable event because of a call and execution of a play that turned a sure Giant victory into a ‘giant’ defeat.
The Giants were up 17-12, they had control of the ball on their own 26 yard line with 31 seconds left. On second down, Giant quarterback Joe Pisarcik kneeled the ball like any quarterback would do in this situation to secure the victory. The football player code of conduct calls for both teams not to block and to accept the ultimate outcome of the game. However, Eagle linebacker Bill Bergey was not in an accepting mood and he pushed Giants’ center Jim Clack into Pisarcik in an attempt to cause a fumble. Seeing what was happening from the sidelines, Giants’ Offensive Coordinator Bob Gibson did not want his quarterback touched, so he called the next play to be a hand-off to running back Larry Csonka. The consensus in the huddle was that this was the wrong call and Pisarcik should just kneel again, however, Pisarcik did not want to override Gibson’s authority. The Eagles naturally brought all players to the line and with all the confusion, Pisarcik did not really get a good grip off the snap which caused him to bobble the ball during the hand-off to Csonka. The ball hit Csonka’s hip and bounced loose only to be picked up by Eagle’s cornerback Herm Edwards who sprinted into the end zone untouched for the Eagle victory.
On game losing plays like that, heads have to roll, so Bob Gibson was fired the next morning. In the aftermath, the play came to be remembered in the sports archives as “The Miracle at the Meadowlands”.