The Tangled History Between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles

When these franchises collide, drama follows

Tramon Williams securing the game-winning interception in the Packers' the 2010 Wild Card Game (YouTube/Basaraski Productions)

Any two franchises that have been in the NFL for as long as the Packers and Eagles are bound to share some history. The Packers have been in the NFL since 1921 and the Eagles since 1933, but this connection goes much deeper than simply time spent in the league.

Their histories are woven together even though they’ve never shared a division.

Animosity exists, despite this series not referred to as a traditional rivalry. Both teams have found a way to thoroughly haunt the other over the years, and this animosity extends to the crowd, bars and homes.

Serious question: When the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles face off is it a battle between the NFL’s most and least respected fan bases? I’m sure some people would come to that conclusion. Or perhaps, it’s a battle of the most polite and impolite NFL fan bases. Would that be a more accurate description? Either way, it’s an undeniably interesting dichotomy isn’t it?

Sure, the big city vs small town story looms large when these franchises play one another, just as the Midwest vs Northeast storyline, but the Packers have those specific relationships with numerous franchises. This matchup is different.

It’s fans known for their levity (I mean, Cheeseheads, come on) vs fans known for, well, their aggressiveness. And sure, it isn’t all Philly sports fans. But it sure is a hell enough of them to make the point. I mean, they’re the only fanbase famous for booing Santa Claus! And don’t get us started on fans cheering injuries, throwing batteries, fighting in the stands or punching horses.

But let’s stick to football, that’s why you’re here.

This matchup always seems to be competitive doesn’t it? As far as teams in recent years the Eagles have to be one of the more consistently tough opponents for the Packers — at least it seems like it.

So, how competitive has this series been recently? It’s as evenly matched as you probably thought. Over the last 16 times these two teams have played, each team has won eight contests. Meaning, since 1996 these teams are 8-8 against one another.

The all-time series of Packers vs Eagles is 27-17 in favor of the team from Wisconsin.

However, that includes a 10-0 start for the Packers over the Eagles from 1933-1946, which encapsulates the entire Don Huston Era and then some. Hutson played for the Packers from 1935-1945.

It’s safe to say that Hutson and his quarterback Arnie Herber absolutely loved playing against Philadelphia. That was when Curly Lambeau’s Packers were at their absolute peak of performance. The amount of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees on those Packer squads is staggering.

In the 1930s the Eagles obviously didn’t have an answer for the Packers, or many teams for that matter. Yet in the 1940s Philadelphia started to find their rhythm as an NFL team. As the decade rolled on RB Steve Van Buren, E (WR) Pete Pihos and QB Tommy Thompson gave the team a dominant offense. They captured two World Championships in the late 1940s, trailing the Packers 6-2 in that department as the next decade rolled around.

The 1950s were a terrible time for the Packers, but it wasn’t much better for the Eagles. In fact, the only decade that’s classified as ‘after Lambeau and before Lombardi’ saw the Packers go 4-0 against the Eagles. For some reason, as both teams struggled the Packers continued their success over the Pennsylvania Birds.

Philadelphia went 1-14 against the Packers through the 1958 season, but retaliated at the most crucial time. QB Norm Van Brocklin, LB/C Chuck Bednarik and FL Tommy McDonald led a dominant Eagles squad to NFL glory — spoiling the Packers’ first championship hopes in over 15 years along the way.

In Vince Lombardi’s first ever NFL Championship Game, in 1960, the Packers fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 17-13 in a brutal matchup at the (then) new Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

Following the game Lombardi famously vowed, “That will never happen again. You will never lose another championship game.”

Not only did Lombardi’s Packers never lose another championship game (or postseason game for that matter) — they didn’t lose to the Eagles again either. Leaders Bart Starr, Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke and Forrest Gregg did everything in their power to go 3-0 against Philadelphia following that 1960 NFL Championship Game loss.

Lombardi, as he often would, kept his word.

Jim Ringo, the longtime Packers center who is one of the best to every play his position, was on Lombardi’s first two championship teams. He was also on that team that lost the 1960 NFL Championship to Philly. His six First Team All-Pro nominations are second in Packers history behind only Forrest Gregg (7) and Don Hutson (8) — elite company.

Interestingly enough, he’d go on to finish his career with the Eagles. The final four seasons of his Hall of Fame career were spent in Philadelphia where he was named to three Pro Bowl squads (to go along with the seven he earned in Green Bay).

One of Lombardi’s other best players, perhaps the best athlete on that dynastical Packers team, was cornerback Herb Adderley. He was born and raised in Philadelphia and is still remembered as one of the best high school athletes in the city’s history.

Adderley passed away a little over a month ago on October 30, 2020. This is obviously the first time the Packers will play his hometown team since his passing.

Dave Robinson, a member of ‘Lombardi’s Left Side’ was also from the Philly area. He grew up on the other side of the Delaware River in Mount Holy, NJ. Those Packers teams had some deep Philly roots and were molded by that 1960 NFL Championship loss to the Eagles.

Lombardi’s Packers won five World Championships in a seven year span, a feat unmatched in NFL history. But the good times can’t last forever right?

Predictably, the Lean Years weren’t good to this “rivalry” from the Packers’ perspective. The Eagles went 5-2 from 1974 through 1991.

Would you believe that these ancient NFC foes only met once in the 1980s?

It’s true, somehow. In 1987 Green Bay won 16-10 in the first overtime game in this all-time series. But it unfortunately wouldn’t be the last overtime game between these teams…

The next? The “4th and 26 game” in 2003 Divisional Round of the playoffs.

You knew it was coming. Everyone did. It’s the most infamous (or famous depending on who you ask) play in the history of this series. Make that stop and the Packers were on their way to the NFC Conference Championship. Sadly, they did not.

Every time that specific down and distance comes up it sends shivers down Packers fans spines — and it has, oddly, happened twice this year already for the Packers. What are the chances of that?

But what made that play even more brutal was that it ended the Packers’ remarkable stretch of play, despite Brett Favre’s broken thumb. The 2003 season just seemed magical. The Packers had won seven of their last eight games, including five in a row.

Within those five games was Favre’s Monday Night Football performance for Big Irv, his father who passed away the day before. That streak also included Matt Hasselbeck’s “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” pick-six to Al Harris in the Wild Card Game. Not to mention Ahman Green’s 98 yard run against the Broncos in a must-win Week 17 matchup.

Then factor in the Cardinals knocking off the Vikings on a last second touchdown pass to even let the Packers into the playoffs in the first place. The fact that the Packers were playing the Broncos during that Vikings-Cardinals game added an incredible layer of drama to that moment.

That season, specifically that stretch of games, held so many moments Packer Nation forever remembers. But it all came crashing down on that 4th and 26, and hitting rock bottom in overtime on Favre’s season-ending interception.

The 2003 Packers were destined for the Super Bowl and no one can change my mind. The football Gods simply had a last-second change of heart.

Most Packers fans cringe when hearing the phrase “Go Birds!” And it’s chiefly due to that horrific moment in Packers history.

Before looking forward to more recent games, it’s important to look at one man, one moment in particular. Two franchises were forever changed in the spring of 1993.

An Unfathomable Shift:

We can’t overlook one of the most colossal names in NFL history in reference to this all-time series: Reggie White.

The first and largest free agency signing the league ever saw was undoubtably White. He left Philadelphia, where he became arguably the most dominant defensive player in league history, and went to Green Bay against all odds. He changed the culture of a team that would go on to win Super Bowl XXXI.

In White’s first game against the Eagles as a Packer, the Eagles won 20-17, despite his sack (one of three for the Green Bay that day). The Eagles would win the following year’s matchup as well.

But in 1996, White’s Packers finally topped the Eagles 39-13 en route to a championship season. His half-sack got him on the stat-sheet for the day.

White would go on to get a sack in the 1997 matchup with the Eagles (a loss) and he’d get another sack in Green Bay’s 1998 game against Philly (a win) in the final game he’d ever play against the Eagles.

A mixed-bag for White against his Eagles, but he came away with a handful of sacks and of course the team he picked in free agency ended a season on a podium.

But White wasn’t the only Eagles star to help the Packers win that Super Bowl. Tight end Keith Jackson, three times First Team All-Pro in Philly, joined Green Bay in 1995. He’d catch a career-high 10 touchdowns in his final NFL season, which happened to be the Packers’ championship 1996 campaign.

Although we should probably mention the man who was throwing him the ball, right?

Overall Brett Favre’s career against Philadelphia had its problems. The Eagles went 8-5 against Favre’s Packers including that infamous postseason loss.

“Wins aren’t a quarterback stat, blah blah” we know, but Starr and Favre’s Packers both lost to the Eagles in the postseason. For what it’s worth, Rodgers was the first quarterback to lead the Packers to a postseason win against Philly.

And what a game that was.

Tramon Williams’ interception (pictured at the top of this piece) sealed a win for the scrappy Packers in the Wild Card round of the 2010 playoffs. It would be the first of four road game wins for the Packers en route to a Super Bowl XLV victory.

A little bit of personal revenge was served for the Packers who won this game on the road against a Michael Vick led Eagles.

Remember, Vick led the Atlanta Falcons to the first win for a road team in Lambeau Field postseason history in 2002. An amazing streak had come to an end and the ghosts of Packers past needed to at least try to even the score. This time, Vick’s home team would be on the losing end of a cold playoff matchup.

Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. Vick threw one touchdown and one interception, yeah that one. Clay Matthews did his best Reggie White impression with one sack on the day. Without this win, who knows what the Rodgers Era in Green Bay would have looked like.

The Current Packers-Eagles Relationship:

As far as recent history goes, the Philadelphia Eagles handed the Packers their first loss of the Matt LaFleur Era in 2019. Green Bay was 3-0 at that time, so Philadelphia will always have that honor.

The Packers hadn’t played the Eagles since 2016 before that matchup.

Davante Adams most likely has the biggest chip on his shoulder remembering last year’s game. He was having an historic night with 180 yards and 10 catches before injuring his toe (including 107 yards in the first quarter). He wasn’t able to finish the game and the Packers lost in the final moments, a recurring trend among Packers-Eagles games in the last couple decades.

He was in the medical tent when Rodgers threw the game-losing interception without his best target on the field.

This motivation to finish what he started last year should frighten Eagles fans as Adams is riding a career best six game touchdown streak and is leading the NFL with 100.9 receiving yards per game. Not to mention the brutal hit to the head Adams received in that game against the Eagles. It’s safe to say he’s going to be motivated.

It should be mentioned that Rodgers hasn’t thrown many game-losing interceptions in his career. We know his memory will not allow him to forget how last year’s game ended.

Green Bay’s defense, specifically the pass rush, should be excited about a chance for redemption, too. They didn’t record a sack against the Eagles in 2019. This year Wentz has already been sacked an NFL-high 46 times.

I wouldn’t bet against Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary and a seemingly rejuvenated Preston Smith throwing Wentz to the turf multiple times on Sunday. There’s no way they get shut-out in that department again.

Wentz is also leading the league in interceptions in 2020. Second-year safety Darnell Savage is coming off a career-best two interception game last week, so lets hope the turnovers keep flowing for this defense. The Packers are coming off of a three sack, three turnover performance against the Chicago Bears.

Lets hope they pin their ears back on Sunday.

But on the offensive side of the ball, impressive rookie Jon Runyan has an incredibly interesting relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles — as pointed out by Wes Hodkiewicz at Packers.com.

Hodkiewicz notes that Jon practically grew up in the Eagles’ locker room because his father played in Philadelphia for nine years from 2000-2008. So this moment, this game will be even more exciting for Jon. He’ll likely make his first NFL start for team the NFL team he adored and was around as a child.

And yes, Jon’s father was on the field for the “4th and 26” moment; another in a long line of intimate Packers-Eagles associations.

It’s like the Eagles’ past has led to the Packers’ future.

Lets hope the Packers’ Runyan can experience similar euphoria this year, but this time in the correct shade of green.

Other Notable Connections:

These are connections to both the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia:

Safety Emlen Tunnell ended his remarkable career with the Packers. A career that saw him make 79 interceptions.

The long-time New York Giant legend was one of the best football players to ever come out of the Philadelphia area. We mention him only because Vince Lombardi specifically brought him to Green Bay to be a leader and example of how the game of football should be played. The Philly native, and transcendent talent, was one of the first great black players in the NFL.

He was a star from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. He was on the team that was defeated by the Eagles in the 1960 Championship Game, but also on the team that won the NFL Championship in 1961 — in his final year in the league.

Tunnell, sadly, passed away in 1975 at the age of 51. He was buried just outside of Philadelphia in West Conshohocken, PA.

Richard Rodgers is another fascinating member of this series. He’s now caught a Hail Mary for both franchises. Surely he’s the only guy to have done that for both of these teams. However his “Miracle in Mowtown” walk-off catch sure beats the garbage-time Hail Mary he caught last week against Seattle.

Cullen Jenkins went from a productive career in Green Bay to spend a couple seasons in Philadelphia. While a Packer he recorded 29 sacks, as an Eagle he put up 9.5. His head coach in Philly was a former Packers assistant coach.

That coach was Andy Reid.

From 1992-1998 Reid was a part of the Packers’ coaching staff, working with the offensive line, tight ends, quarterbacks and eventually assisting the head coach (Mike Holmgren). Reid was there for Favre’s glory years, one of many notable assistant coaches the Packers famously employed in the 1990s.

However Reid would go on to have success as a head coach following his stint in Green Bay. He didn’t win a Super Bowl in his 14 years with the Eagles, but he went to one and won six division titles. He won AP Coach of the Year in 2002 and his Eagles went 5-4 against the Packers during his tenure.

His quarterback was six-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb. The Eagles won at least 10 games five times while he was the signal caller and he, of course, was the quarterback in the “4th and 26” game in which he threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Of course Reid is now cementing his Hall of Fame legacy as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes slinging the ball for him.

But Reid wasn’t the only former Packer employee to go on and find success as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles…

Doug Pederson, the current head coach of the Eagles, spent seven years playing in Green Bay — or holding a clipboard, that is.

Brett Favre’s longtime backup, friend and hunting buddy, went on to find great success with the Philadelphia Eagles as a first-time Head Coach. He beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII with a backup quarterback. Since that game things haven’t been quite as fun for Pederson, but he’s still a Super Bowl champion head coach.

That title was the Eagles’ first since that fateful 1960 NFL Championship Game.

Pederson is the Eagles’ current Head Coach and if quarterback Carson Wentz somehow figures out his issues, he may be the big man in charge for some time. I mean, he still has that ring in his corner when push comes to shove.

We don’t want to give the Packers organization all of the credit for the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl, but hey, Pederson definitely brought that some of that winning culture from Green Bay to Philly. We jest, but it does make you wonder if Titletown USA truly did rub off on him a bit.

This is less notable, of course, but Aaron Rodgers and long-time Philadelphia Eagle Desean Jackson are great friends from college as they played at Cal together. Unfortunately Jackson has suffered another injury and is sitting this season out.

But how can anyone forget Jackson’s “New Miracle at the Meadowlands” punt return for a touchdown to defeat the Giants in Week 17 of the 2010 season? In that moment, it appeared to clear the way for the Packers to make it to the postseason (where they’d go on to win the Super Bowl).

It was in the following week that the Packers beat the Eagles, with the Giants out of playoffs altogether, a true butterfly effect moment in NFL history.

One oddity about the Packers’ XXXI Super Bowl team is that two of the major offensive contributors went on to play for the Eagles toward the end of their careers.

Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman both found themselves in Eagles green. If you ask us, they looked much better in Packers green. Just imagine if Davante Adams and Aaron Jones both ended up playing for the Eagles in a few years? How weird would that be? That is what this was like.

The crossovers between these franchises are immense, aren’t they?

A Closer Look at the Numbers:

As previously mentioned, the Packers’ longest winning streak over the Eagles is 10 games. But in the Super Bowl era their longest streak over Philly is three games (2007-2011). The Eagle’s longest winning streak over Green Bay is five games (2003-2006). The Eagles weren’t kind to the Mike Sherman era Packers.

Green Bay owns the two highest point totals in the all-time series, scoring 53 points in 2014 and 49 points in 1962.

The two highest point totals for the Eagles against Green Bay are 47 points in 2004 and 36 points in 1974.

The Packers have been shut out by the Eagles once (1990), but have shutout Philly three separate times (1933, 1942 and 1962). That shutout in 1962 was the biggest win in Packers-Eagles history (Green Bay 49-0).

Some people consider the 1962 Packers the best team in franchise history and one of the best in NFL history. That 49-0 victory was their best victory of the year tied with another 49-0 victory over the Chicago Bears. However the win over the Eagles was in Philadelphia so that’s arguably even more impressive. Plus, they held Philly to 54 total yards and just three first downs on the game — by far their best effort of the year.

Yeah, that ’62 team was pretty damn good. And that might just be the single most dominant win in Packers history.

You could call that game some cold-served revenge for that 1960 Championship Game loss (as it was the first time they’d played since 1960). I’m sure Vince Lombardi wanted to prove a point that day and his team sure did.

The flow of this “rivalry” was distinctly in the Packers’ favor for the first three decades, but the Eagles sure struck back with a vengeance in 1960. Lombardi punched back, Holmgren, Favre and White held serve and Reid and McNabb flexed their muscles. Thankfully Rodgers exacted some postseason revenge.

The truth is Packers-Eagles games have always been personal and we have a feeling they’ll remain that way as the next 100 years of NFL football unfold. The emotion evoked when these teams matchup cannot be ignored. Perhaps it’s because of all of the crossovers between these two franchises. Who knows when the next big-time player or coach will go from one team to the other?

The only thing we can be sure of is that it’ll happen again.

38-17 Packers. You heard it here first.

#GoPackGo

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We seek to bring more context to, and share interesting stores about, the history of the Green Bay Packers and the NFL as a whole. Clickbait be damned. "We" are Daniel and David Zillmer; hit the about or contact to learn more.

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