No one was talking about “walk-off” scores in 1985. The term had not yet entered our sports lexicon. But on November 10 of that year, Ron Jaworski and Mike Quick teamed up on a walk-off for the ages: a 99-yard touchdown pass in overtime to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-17.
Actually, it was longer than 99 yards.
“(The ball) was this far from the goal line,” Jaworski said, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart. “It was that close.”
“The Falcons didn’t think we’d throw the ball from that (field) position,” Quick said. “I’m sure we surprised them.”
The Eagles ran the ball on first down and didn’t gain an inch. On second down, Jaworski stepped back into the end zone and threw a strike to Quick, who split two defenders - cornerback Bobby Butler and safety Scott Case. It was a perfectly executed slant route that Quick took the distance for a 99-yard touchdown, winning the game and tying an NFL record.
“You could look at it as risky, throwing the ball in that spot,” Jaworski said. “But the Falcons were jamming the line of scrimmage to stop the run. We got stuffed on first down. We weren’t going to get much more if we ran it again then we’d be punting from the back of the end zone. We figured, ‘Let’s take a shot.’ It was a gamble, but a smart gamble.”
“That play was there all day,” Quick said. “I knew I could get the slant on them. I told Ron it was there if he wanted it. And I knew if the outside guy (Butler) didn’t get me, I had a chance to go all the way.”
The Eagles were reeling at the end of regulation. They had blown a 17-0 lead and barely survived when the Falcons missed a chip shot field goal late in the fourth quarter. The game went to overtime and when a Falcons punt pinned them at the 1-yard line, the Veterans Stadium crowd groaned. The Eagles had never won an overtime game (0-3-1) and it didn’t appear they would win this one either.
“We had control of the game and let it slip away,” Jaworski said. “To lose like that at home would have been brutal. But one play turned it all around.”
Jaworski was just hoping to complete the pass to Quick and get some breathing room for the offense.
“It’s not like I said, ‘Let’s take this one to the house,’” Jaworski said. “I mean, we were on the one-inch line.”
But Quick beat Butler to the inside and Jaworski hit the Pro Bowl receiver in stride at the 20-yard line. Case, the safety, went for the ball and Quick flew past him into the open field.
“Then it was just a foot race,” Quick said. “I knew there was no stopping me unless I tripped and fell.”
Never one to showboat, Quick simply ran in a straight line to the end zone. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t turn and back into the end zone. He raised his hand in celebration as he crossed the 10-yard line, but that was it. Then he tossed the ball into the air as he scored the touchdown. Now he wishes he hadn’t.
“I’d like to have that ball,” Quick said. “I wasn’t a big collector, but I wish I had kept that one. I would’ve put the date on it and put it on the shelf. If there is a signature play in my career, that’s probably it. People still talk about it.
“But at the time I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just happy we won the game. I tossed the ball and almost immediately (defensive end) Greg Brown grabbed me then I was mobbed. I have no idea what happened to the ball. Somebody must have it, but it’s not me.”
Atlanta coach Dan Henning said: “We got beat on a great play by a great athlete. If we have to get beat that’s the way I’d like to see us get beat.”
It was the sixth time in NFL history that a quarterback and receiver connected on a 99-yard touchdown pass. It has happened seven times since then, most recently in 2011 when the Giants Eli Manning and Victor Cruz burned the rival Jets at the Meadowlands. It is a mark that can be tied but never broken, so Jaworski and Quick know their names will be linked in the NFL record book forever.
“I do think about that sometimes,” Quick said with a grin. “It’s pretty cool.”