Renewed Rivalry

Renewed Rivalry

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Eagles and Cardinals battled for NFL titles in late ‘40s

This weekend, the Arizona Cardinals will host the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Conference Championship Game with a trip to Super Bowl XLIII on the line. While this matchup seems like something new to the playoff scene, a trip back into history reminds us that the Eagles and Cardinals, were arch rivals in the late 1940s.

The two teams faced each other in back-to-back NFL title games. The clubs split the contests with the Cardinals, then located in Chicago, winning the league crown in 1947 and the Eagles becoming league champions in 1948.

One thing is for certain this weekend. The Eagles and Cardinals players will not have to battle on a frozen turf like they did sixty years ago. Here are some recaps of two post-season games between the Eagles and Cardinals.


1947 NFL Championship Game

The Cardinals celebrate their victory over the Eagles.
The Cardinals beat the Eagles to the punch by starting the game wearing basketball shoes for better traction on a the frozen Comiskey Park field in Chicago. The Eagles followed suit shortly after the game kicked off but the Cardinals had already jumped out to a 14-0 lead courtesy of a 44-yard touchdown run by Hall of Fame halfback Charley Trippi and a 70-yard scamper by back Elmer Angsman.

The Cardinals defense kept the league’s leading ground gainer Steve Van Buren in check as the Hall of Fame runner was limited to just 26 yards on 18 carries. Although Philadelphia rallied to get back into the game, the Cardinals simply produced too many big plays for the Eagles to offset. Angsman added a second 70-yard touchdown run to clinch the win. It marked the Cardinals’ first world championship since 1925.

FINAL SCORE – Cardinals 28, Eagles 21

Box score>>>
Program cover and official rosters (PDF 1.97 MB)>>>
Read a newspaper account of the game (PDF 2.59MB)>>>
Cardinals’ “Dream Backfield” of 1947>>>


1948 NFL Championship Game

Eagles players try to keep warm as the snow falls during the 1948 championship game. 
Despite the fact that a tarp protected the Shibe Park field in Philadelphia until a half-hour before kickoff, the Eagles and Cardinals championship rematch started with a snow-covered turf. The adverse conditions worsened as the game progressed.

The Eagles scored on a 65-yard pass play on its first possession only to find out that the touchdown had been called back because of an offsides penalty. The official’s flag in those days were white so the penalty flag laid camouflaged in the snow causing the Philly players not to immediately realize that the play had been voided.

The teams battled back and forth with multiple turnovers and missed field goals seemingly the norm this day. Neither squad was able to put any points on the scoreboard for three quarters. Finally, early in the fourth, Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren bulled his way over from the five-yard-line for the game’s only touchdown. The victory was the first of two consecutive league titles for Philadelphia.

FINAL SCORE – Eagles 7, Cardinals 0

Box score>>>
Program cover and official rosters (PDF 3.13MB)>>>
News Release from the NFL previewing the matchup (PDF 2.40 MB)>>>
Read newspaper accounts of the '48 Championship (PDF 1.62MB)>>>

More from
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 1932 – the NFL’s first playoff game
 Playoff Photo Gallery

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