Will ‘22 Eagles Redux ‘64 Phillies?

Through the games of September 20, 1964, the Phillies held a 6.5-game lead on the Cardinals and Reds with 13 games to play, giving them a magic number of 7 to clinch just their third National League pennant in franchise history (having won the pennant only in 1915 and 1950, then going on to lose in the World Series on both occasions).

How many games did the Phillies win the rest of the way?


Following getting swept in three-game series first by the Reds at home (scoring 6 runs therein) the Phillies were swept four straight by the then Milwaukee Braves (who finished fifth in the NL that year), also at home, and then three in a row by the Cardinals in St. Louis (eight runs scored in that series) — and while all of this was going on, the Cardinals went 9-1 and the Reds 8-2.

Thus, on the morning of October 1, the Phillies found themselves in third place, two and a half games behind the Cardinals and one and a half games behind the second-place Reds, against whom they would end the season with two games in Cincinnati.

And while the Phillies would take both games from the Reds, they also needed the Cardinals to get swept in their three-game series against the lowly Mets to create the first-ever three-way tie in baseball history.

The Cards actually lost the first two games to the Mets — but when they won the third game, it put the finishing touches on what is quite possibly the greatest collapse in sports history (even though the Phils actually "came on again" to finish in a tie for second with the Reds).

Twoscore and 18 years later, the Eagles appear hell-bent on one-upping — or should we say, one-downing? — the Phillies of 1964.

Following a 25-20 win over the Bears in Chicago on December 18 that was not as close as the final score would suggest, the Eagles were one more win or one more loss by "America's Team" with both teams having three games left, from claiming not only the NFC East title, but the top playoff seed in the NFC, bundled in whose software comes both a first-round bye (and also even, since 2020, a first-round postseason share for each player) and home-field advantage in both the team's divisional playoff game and the conference game, should they advance thereto.

But, late in the Chicago game, it turned out that Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts sustained a severely sprained right (throwing) shoulder, causing him to miss both of the two games played since, and sure enough the Eagles lost both of those games, with Gardner Minshew II — now 8-16 as a starter — under center.

Sure enough, just as the Phillies mysteriously stopped hitting during the 10-game losing streak that cost them the NL pennant in 1964, the Eagles offense has stalled out since Hurts got injured — especially in the New Orleans game, where they did not get a first down until 12 seconds remaining in the first half, in which they amassed a grand total of 36 yards, on five possessions.

Minshew's first-half stats were five completions in 10 attempts for 62 yards, with neither a touchdown nor an interception, yielding a passer rating of 69.6. He was also sacked five times for 17 yards' worth of losses — and the Eagles rushed for just 9 yards on 2 carries, both by Miles Sanders.

The Eagles may have gotten one huge break, however, when the Giants plastered the Colts, 38-10, concomitant with their own 20-10 loss to the Saints that dropped their lifetime record against Andy Dalton to 0-4.

With their win, the Giants clinched not only a playoff berth, but the 6-seed in the NFC draw, meaning that they will have absolutely nothing to play for when they head down the Jersey Turnpike to take on the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. It is this lack of incentive that has prompted the oddsmakers to open the point spread on the game at Eagles minus an imposing 13.5 — the largest spread favoring the Eagles since October 6, 2019, when they spotted the Jets 14 and beat them 31-6.

Nonetheless, the ghosts of Connie Mack Stadium (known as Shibe Park prior to 1953) continue to haunt the city — and have been doing so before even the construction of One Liberty Place, which supplanted the statue of William Penn as Philadelphia's tallest structure, in March of 1987, which was widely blamed for the city's lack of a championship in any of the four major sports until the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

And only in certain movies do ghosts typically get busted.

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