In my last post, we all had to relive some pretty shitty memories from the last decade. We can only hope the 2020’s will be a decade of new heights and multiple championships but history tells us to sadly think otherwise. That said, there were still plenty of legendary Philly sports moments from the 2010’s.
Here are five.
Halladay perfect game and playoff no-hitter
When Roy Halladay was traded to the Phillies prior to the 2010 season, the consensus was that he was the best pitcher in baseball. That became obvious fast. He was must-see TV every five days. His nickname – Doc – was so appropriate. We became accustomed to seeing his surgeon-like precision. His ability to locate cutters and 2-seamers on each corner of the plate, while reaching the mid 90’s on a nightly basis was truly mind-blowing and something we may not see again for quite some time.
On May 29, 2010, Doc took the mound against the Florida Marlins. The Fish were absolutely no match for the future Hall of Famer. 27 up, 27 down, 11 strikeouts.
Later that year, the Phillies cruised to a 4th straight NL East title. A matchup with the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds was set, and Halladay was penciled in for game 1 (I was there, no big deal). This was Doc’s first postseason start.
In front of a raucous crowd in Philly, Doc carved up the Reds lineup, including NL MVP Joey Votto. He walked a batter early in the game, but by the 6th or 7th inning, we all realized we were watching something special. The game ended on a dribbler in front of home plate. As Carlos Ruiz fielded and threw the ball, we all held our breaths. Once the play was over, Doc had thrown just the second ever playoff no-hitter, just another mark on his resume for Cooperstown.
Sadly, we lost Doc to a plane crash in 2017, but there’s no doubt about the legacy he left. One of the truly dominant pitchers of his era, and we were lucky to have him on the Phils.
Flyers comeback vs. Boston
I eluded to this one in the last post, but 2010 was a crazy roller coaster ride for the Flyers. After dispatching the NJ Devils in round 1, the Flyers appeared outmatched in a second round series against Boston. They fell behind 3-0 while Game 4 ultimately went to overtime. A Bruins goal would have ended the series in a sweep.
Simon Gagne buried a goal in overtime in Game 4, sending the series back to Boston, where the Flyers would win convincingly to the tune of 4-0. What was shaping up to be a short series suddenly wasn’t. The Flyers were hosting Game 6 and a chance to tie the series at 3-3.
Game 6 ended up being a hard fought 2-1 win for the Orange and Black. After being down 3-0, the Flyers were in position to eliminate Boston on their home ice.
Game 7 was a microcosm of the whole series. Boston took a 3-0 lead in the first period and just like that, things appeared bleak for the Flyers again. The whole comeback effort seemed to be pointless. Then coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout.
After the timeout, the Flyers went to work. Halfway through the second period, the game was tied. On a power play late in the third period, Simon Gagne put the Flyers up for good. The Flyers then marched on to the Eastern Conference Final and while they ultimately didn’t secure the Stanley Cup, this run was truly legendary.
This is the Bruins broadcast. Enjoy 😉.
The miracle at the Meadowlands
This was one of the most improbable comebacks in a football game that I had ever seen.
The 2010 Eagles were a pleasant surprise. Kevin Kolb was supposed to be the starting quarterback, but was replaced by Michael Vick after suffering a concussion in a Week 1 loss. Vick had not started an NFL game since before serving hard time for his role in a dog-fighting ring, and nobody really knew what he was capable of at the time. However, after an electrifying performance against the Packers, it quickly became clear that Michael Vick was back. Vick was amazing that year, finishing second in MVP voting.
A week 15 matchup with the Giants in the Meadowlands would effectively decide the NFC East. The game started out with the Giants absolutely dominating the Eagles. At half, the Giants led 24-3.
With 8:17 left in the game, the Giants led 31-10. Time to start preparing for next week right?
The Eagles offense went to work, scoring on a quick strike from Vick to Brent Celek. The Eagles then executed a successful onsides kick, and again scored quickly. Before you could blink, it was a 7 point game. After forcing a punt, the Eagles drove the length of the field once again, tying the game on a pass to Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles defense forced a quick 3-and-out, and with 14 seconds left, the Giants lined up to punt. The Eagles put in DeSean Jackson to return. Surely they wouldn’t kick it to him, right?
The great Merrill Reese will tell you how it went down.
Villanova wins 2 titles in 3 years
Prior to 2016, Villanova was a meme. The crying piccolo girl was what we pictured when thinking of Villanova Basketball. One shot changed perception forever.
After navigating their way to the title game, Nova matched up with the UNC Tarheels, one of college basketball’s iconic programs. What ensued was a game for the ages, a back-and-forth battle between two great teams. With 14 seconds left, Villanova took a 3 point lead. UNC got the ball with a chance to tie. Marcus Paige fired up a prayer of a shot, and somehow it went in with 4.7 seconds left. Was Villanova cursed? It sure felt that way.
Jay Wright called a timeout and drew up a play. The senior-laden Wildcats executed it perfectly under immense pressure while Kris Jenkins put the cherry on top.
2 years later, Villanova entered the tournament as the favorite to cut the nets. That is exactly what they did. Nova defeated Michigan in the title game, capping a dominant run through the field.
2016 turned Nova from a punchline to a legit power, and 2018 turned them into the team of the decade. The crying piccolo girl could finally smile.
Eagles win Super Bowl 52
This was unquestionably the high point of the decade for Philadelphia sports, maybe even the century. Philly fans love all their teams, but the Eagles come first. The history of the Eagles had been consumed with despair prior to that legendary year. “Eagles have 0 Super Bowls” jokes were far too common. We couldn’t shake off the memories of Ronde Barber in 2002, Todd Pinkston against the Panthers in 2003, Super Bowl 39 against the Patriots (and their camera guys), 2008 against Arizona and Larry Fitzgerald, the “Dream Team”, the Chip Kelly era….
2017 was too good to be true. Our second year quarterback Carson Wentz not only looked like a franchise quarterback, he looked like a generational talent. He was the best quarterback in the NFL that year. Every off-season acquisition looked like a great addition. Alshon Jeffery was the big, rangy receiver we had been looking for, LeGarrette Blount added physicality to the running game, Chris Long added to an already talented defensive line. It was a complete team.
Then came that game in LA where Wentz tore his ACL. What seemed too good to be true was too good to be true. Time to focus on next year. Oh wait, Nick Foles was back in Philly. That’s pretty cool I guess.
Foles took over and initially was quite inconsistent. He was pretty good against the underachieving Giants, but sucked against the Raiders and Cowboys to close out the season. No way we can navigate the playoffs without the league MVP (Wentz would have been MVP had he not been injured).
The defense carried Foles and the offense to an ugly win over the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, the game ending with a goal line stand.
After falling behind 7-0 to the Vikings in the NFC Championship, Foles became Superman. The Birds inexplicably thrashed Minnesota 38-7, and set up a matchup with those damn Patriots.
Super Bowl 52 was an all-time game, with the Eagles jumping out to an early lead, and the Patriots inevitably storming back. The entire second half was a seesaw battle.
While Foles played great, the Eagles defense had no answer for Tom Brady. Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards.
In the 4th quarter, the Patriots took a 33-32 lead, and it seemed to be slipping away from the Eagles. A 4th and 1 conversion to Zach Ertz kept the Birds alive. That may have been the most nervous moment I had watching football in a long time, maybe ever. Several minutes later, Foles hit Ertz for the go-ahead score.
I grabbed another beer as I prepared myself to potentially watch Brady lead the Pats on a game winning drive. Thankfully, Brandon Graham had other ideas.
Relive this wonderful moment in multiple languages.
Jake Elliott then put the Birds up by 8 with a clutch field goal, and Brady had 1 last chance at a Hail Mary. Incomplete! Finally! 41-33, good guys.
Here’s a little bonus.