Thanksgiving and football are synonymous with one another.
Christmas and football? Not so much.
I was quite surprised to learn that the Eagles have only played twice on Christmas. And one of those games was last season.
There actually have not been a lot of NFL games on Christmas. The first two contests were playoff matchups in 1971, a year after the AFL-NFL merger. There was such a public outcry over playing games on the holiday that the NFL avoided Christmas at all cost.
In 1989, the league experimented with a prime-time Christmas matchup between the Bengals and the Vikings. The kickoff was after 9 p.m. on the East Coast to avoid any potential family conflicts. Four years later, Christmas games were worked into the schedule, but even if the holiday falls on a Sunday, there will only be a game or two. In 2011, the Bears and the Packers played on Christmas while the vast majority of the action on Saturday. Two games were held on Christmas in 2016, but again, the rest of the contests were moved to Saturday except for the Thursday and Monday night matchups.
Here is a quick look at the Eagles' perfect 2-0 record on Christmas.
2006: Eagles 23, Cowboys 7
"Merry Christmas, Philadelphia."
Those were the words from quarterback Jeff Garcia as he ran off the field at Texas Stadium in Irving following the NFC East-clinching victory.
The Eagles were 5-6 at the end of November following a crushing 45-21 loss on the road against Indianapolis in Garcia's first start for the Eagles following Donovan McNabb's season-ending knee injury.
Garcia, who would carry the popular movie, Invincible, with him on road trips, rallied the Eagles to wins over Carolina, Washington, and Giants before the holiday showdown against Dallas.
The quarterback was efficient, completing 15 of 23 passes for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Brian Westbrook paced the ground game with 122 yards. The defense was outstanding limiting Tony Romo to 142 passing yards and forcing a pair of interceptions. Romo also happened to be the Cowboys' leading rusher on the day.
The Eagles never trailed as they got a first-quarter touchdown on a Matt Schobel 25-yard reception from Garcia. The Cowboys made it 10-7 in the second quarter, but a pair of David Akers field goals extended the Eagles' lead to 16-7 early in the third quarter. Correll Buckhalter put the game away with a 1-yard scoring run to cap off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with just 6:54 left.
2017: Eagles 19, Raiders 10
This one is a little fresher in the minds of Eagles fans.
The Eagles had already clinched the NFC East, but this victory was important because it secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Oakland was out of the playoff picture, but made it tough for the Eagles behind 95 rushing yards by Marshawn Lynch and a 63-yard touchdown from Amari Cooper, offering a glimpse of what was to come in 2018. The Raiders led the game 10-7 in the third quarter.
A wild sequence of three straight drives in the game ending with a turnover eventually resulted in the first of two Jake Elliott field goals that would give the Eagles a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles put the game and the Raiders away when Derek Barnett returned a fumble, the Raiders' fifth turnover of the game, for a 23-yard touchdown as time expired.
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Oakland Raiders, 19-10. This win clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.