A rich history of the Eagles battles with the Lions

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson (65), Guard Brandon Brooks (79), and Offensive Tackle Jason Peters (71) adjust for a block in the first half during the game between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles on September 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions are squaring off in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL in what is a battle of long time NFC foes. While there isn’t really a known rivalry between the two teams, they have come across each other pretty often in the 90 years they’ve been in the NFL together. The two teams have matched up 34 times in the regular season and once in the playoffs, with the Eagles owning the all-time tiebreaker 17-16-2.

The Beginning


There was a lot that was different in the first meeting between these two franchises, most importantly the Lions were not yet the Lions, rather the Portsmouth Spartans. There is not a lot of data on this game, but it’s rather forgettable for the Eagles anyway since they lost 0-25. The most noticeable thing about this game is a Lions player named Ernie Caddel scored a touchdown while playing at a position called wingback.


In the first match-up where they were known as the Lions, they defeated the Eagles 0-10. Again because this was so long ago, not a whole lot to cover except our wingback friend Ernie Caddel scored the only touchdown of the game.

Alternating Champions

From 1948 to 1960, the Eagles and the Lions combined for 6 championships and were both regularly at the top of the NFL standings. To this day this is statistically the most successful period for both franchises. The Lions and Eagles both had 8 winning seasons during that time as well as 3 championships each. Detroit won there’s in 1952, 1953 and 1957 off the arm of Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne. The Eagles won their championships in 1948, 1949 and 1960 and every year they won, they beat the Lions in the regular season.


On the final day of the regular season, the Eagles got a tuneup in before they got ready to face the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL Championship. WIth their spot already clinched in the final, Philadelphia blew out the Lions 45-21. It was only their second win against the Lions in 9 tries and was by far the most points the Eagles ever scored against Detroit. Eagles legend Steve Van Buren ran for 96 yards and a touchdown in the win. One week later the Eagles would win their first championship.


In this early season matchup, Steve Van Buren was yet again a major factor when he rushed for 135 yards and 2, 4th quarter touchdowns as the Eagles scored a come from behind victory, 22-14. Later that year the Eagles would finish the season 11-1 and win their second straight championship against the Los Angeles Rams, 14-0.


Two future Hall of Famers would have good days for the Eagles today as they handled the Lions, 28-10. Norm “The Dutchman” Van Brocklin threw for 2 touchdowns and Tommy McDonald caught 2 passes for 51 yards. The Eagles improved to 3-1 on the season with this win and ended the season 10-2, with a victory against Vince Lombardi’s Packers in the NFL Championship, 17-13.

Eagles Dominance

From that 1960 game, Philadelphia would go on to win or tie in 13 of the next 16 games over the course of 50 years. The Lions remained largely irrelevant during that time, only winning 1 playoff game in that span. While the Eagles were no dynasty, they were a much more stable franchise in that span with frequent division titles and playoff appearances.


The Eagles played the Lions for the first time on Thanksgiving this year, beating them 12-0. The game itself was fairly boring, with the only scoring coming from 4 Eagles field goals, but the impact of the game is significant. This was the first team victory of the year and directly impacted the teams chances of landing the first overall pick and getting Hall of Fame running back(but not person), O.J. Simpson. The Eagles would win the following week and end the season 2-12 and with the 3rd overall pick. I hate to bring it up but this game is one of the reasons why Santa got snowballs thrown at him, so thanks for that Detroit.


In the only playoff matchup between the two teams, the Eagles demolished the Lions 58-37. The birds set a franchise record in points in a playoff game and won their first playoff game in Ray Rhoades first season as head coach. Rodney Peete, who replaced Randall Cunningham as the starting quarterback earlier that season, threw for 3 touchdowns and 270 yards. Ricky Watters had over 100 all purpose yards and 2 touchdowns and Fred Barnett recorded 109 yards and a touchdown.

Recent Years

Since the turn of the 2010s, the two teams have been much more even, with the Lions having the edge, 4-2. The games have had a tendency for unusual things happening, especially to the Eagles.


This game, known affectionately as the Snow Bowl, has turned into one of the most famous and beloved games in recent history. During Chip Kelly’s first season, the Eagles had managed to turn the season around after a slow start and came into the game 7-5. In a blizzard, Nick Foles decided to turn off his arm during what was his best season and handed the reins to Lesean McCoy. McCoy had a career day, as he cut and spun in the snow for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Eagles had been losing for most of the day and erupted for 28 points in the 4th quarter to take the game, 34-20.


The second time the Eagles played the Lions on Thanksgiving did not end so we’ll. All I’m going to say is how was Eric Rowe the best option to defend Calvin Johnson?


The most recent game of this rivalry happened on Halloween of last year, as the Eagles put a frightening beat down on Detroit, 44-6. This was really the start of the team’s turnaround last season, as they would go on to win 6 of the 8 games. This was the game when they fully embraced the running game. Hurts only had to throw the ball 14 times for 103 yards, but was extremely effective with an extra 7 rushes for 71 yards. As a team the Eagles rushed for 236 yards, with Jordan Howard and Boston Scott getting 2 touchdowns each.



The story of this new season has yet to be written but the first chapter will come in Detroit against the Lions. These two teams have quite a long history against each other and I would expect the unexpected after going through their history.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire