Today in Philly Sports History: "Groundhog Day," 1995

Today in Philly Sports History: "Groundhog Day," 1995
February 10, 2009, 4:00 am
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The Dallas Cowboys weren't exactly in the business of losing games in the mid-90s--they won three Super Bowls in four years, on their way to dynasty status and a recapturing of the "America's Team" moniker. But on December 10th, 1995, they were facing the Eagles at the Vet, and the Eagles had them tied at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter. With the ball on their own 29-yard line, coach Barry Switzer made the Belichickian decision to go for it on 4th-and-1, handing the ball to star back Emmitt Smith. Smith was stuffed and the ball turned over--except that the whistle had already sounded the two-minute warning, and the Cowboys got a mulligan.

Except that when the Cowboys re-assembled after the warning to run the play for real, they neglected to heed past mitsakes, and went for it once more--even running the same play by handing it back over to Smith. The Eagles D stopped him short of the marker a second time, and this time it was the Eagles' ball for certain. Gary Anderson ended up kicking a 42-yard field goal, and the Eagles won the game, 20-17, moving them to 9-5 for the season and giving the Cowboys just their fourth loss of the season.

Almost as famous as the play itself was of longtime Birds announcer Merrill Reese's recounting of the events. An incredulous Reese memorably referred to the play as "Groundhog Day"--referencing, of course, the Bill Murray comedy classic where the same day keeps repeating itself over and over again. (Merrill would eventually rank it as his #8 all-time most-memorable Eagles call, still apparently no competition for Wilbert Montgomery running for a 42-yard touchdown in the 1980 NFC Championship--another game against the Cowboys).

Of course, the 'Boys' revenge would be swift and merciless, as they soundly dispatched the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs by a score of 30-11, on their way to their third Super Bowl. But the Birds would take their victories where they could get them against Big D in the 90s, and this was undoubtedly one of the sweeter ones.

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