The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers aren’t traditional rivals. But after last season, the feud between the two teams is simmering. The Eagles beat up the 49ers in the NFC Championship game last season to advance to the Super Bowl.
But San Francisco wasn’t at 100 percent. The 49ers saw quarterback Brock Purdy exit the game with an arm injury in the first quarter. With no consistent play under center, San Francisco ultimately fell apart in a 31-7 Eagles victory.
The 49ers will get their first opportunity at revenge during Week 13 in Philadelphia. San Francisco is two games behind the Eagles for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. This is a must-win matchup if the 49ers want to catch up to 10-1 Philadelphia.
There have been several great feuds in NFL history that have been created through fierce playoff battles. While San Francisco and Philadelphia haven’t quite reached that level yet, top sports news shows they are headed in that direction.
Steelers and Raiders Embodied Violent 1970s
There was no avoiding contact in the AFC football playoffs. The Oakland Raiders built their reputation on intimidating opponents with rough play that often went over the line. While the Raiders got the reputation for being dirty players, and to be fair, they earned it because they openly said they weren’t ashamed of it, the Pittsburgh Steelers were no angels.
The Steelers built their dynastic run in the 1970s on a physical defense that was more than capable of delivering wicked hits that sent opponents to the sidelines. It was only natural that their paths would cross in big games. Pittsburgh and Oakland’s feud quickly got personal.
During the 1972 playoffs, the Steelers won their first playoff game in team history by beating the Raiders 13-7 at Three Rivers Stadium. The game would prove controversial as Oakland claimed that the game-winning touchdown pass to Franco Harris was caught on an illegal deflection. Over the years, the accusations never stopped.
Hall of Fame Steelers coach Chuck Noll described the Raiders as bringing the “criminal element” into the NFL. Oakland owner Al Davis accused Pittsburgh’s groundskeepers of intentionally watering the field so it would ice over before a game. The Steelers and Raiders would meet five times in the playoffs between 1972 and 1976. Pittsburgh held a 3-2 edge in those games.
The winners of those playoff games would win the Super Bowl three times.
49ers and Cowboys Have Everlasting Feud
Recent sports updates will show that San Francisco and Dallas have an improbable playoff rivalry that seems to heat every 15 years or so. While the teams have met in the playoffs nine times, with Dallas holding a 5-4 edge, the feud was never as hot as it was in the early 1990s.
The 49ers were the team of the 1980s, winning four championships, while the Cowboys fell from grace and bottomed out completely. When new ownership took over in Dallas, Jerry Jones’ first act as owner was to fire coach Tom Landry, who had been the only coach in the team’s history.
The Cowboys quickly rebuilt their team to challenge the 49ers’ dominance in the NFC. Dallas and San Francisco would meet in the NFC Championship game for three straight years. The Cowboys won the first two meetings and won the Super Bowl.
San Francisco was so determined to win a third meeting that the 49ers brought in All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders on a one-year deal. The 49ers finally got revenge in 1994, beating the Cowboys and winning a Super Bowl.
Manning and Brady Spark Down Franchises
The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts had suffered a long stretch of not being near the top of the NFL mountain. However, the Patriots and Colts would find their franchise quarterbacks in the late 1990s.
When New England drafted unheralded prospect Tom Brady and Indianapolis drafted legacy top prospect Peyton Manning, it would set up a rivalry that would last the next 15 years. Many thought Manning had the chance to be the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
However, Manning had a hard time getting by Brady. From 2003 to 2006, the Colts and Patriots would meet in the playoffs three times. Brady ran laps around his older rival during the first two postseason meetings. In 2003, Manning was intercepted four times, and New England ran away with a 24-14 win.
Things didn’t get any prettier for Manning the following season. Indianapolis could only muster three points and suffered a 17-point defeat. Finally, during the 2006 playoffs, Manning could avoid the conversation about being owned by Brady.
Facing a 21-3 deficit, Manning was able to rally Indianapolis for a 38-34 win. That would propel Manning to his first-ever Super Bowl appearance. The Colts beat the Bears to give Manning his first championship.
Broncos Torment the Browns
Denver didn’t win any Super Bowls in the 1980s. But the Broncos did plenty of psychological damage to the Cleveland Browns’ fanbase. Denver and Cleveland met in the AFC Championship game three times in four years during the late 1980s.
The 1986 and 1987 losses were particularly tough for Cleveland fans. During the first loss, Broncos quarterback John Elway led a long drive at the end of the game to stun the Browns. In 1987, Cleveland was trailing by a touchdown late. Browns running back Earnest Byner had the ball with 1 minute 12 seconds remaining and appeared to be going in for the game-tying touchdown, but would be stripped of the ball and Denver would escape with a five-point win.
The 1989 game wasn’t close, as Denver dominated Cleveland to get back to the Super Bowl. The Broncos didn’t enjoy all of their victories over the Browns, as Denver got blown out in all three Super Bowls after getting by Cleveland.
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