Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open and the Olympics, plus NCAA Final Four connections, NASCAR, the Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown
They called it the Miracle at the Meadowlands.
Redlands’ Brian DeRoo had a front row seat for the “miracle,” an infamous and highly replayed conclusion to an NFC Eastern Division game between the New York Giants and the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.
On this date, November 19, 1978 – exactly 40 years ago today – Giants’ QB Joe Pisarcik mishandled a snap in the waning seconds of a game seemingly won by New York.
Onetime All-Pro fullback Larry Csonka couldn’t quite get to Pisarcik’s handoff.
Eagles’ defensive back Herman Edwards recovered. Twenty-six yards later, Edwards had scored. Philadelphia had an unexpected 19-17 victory. It should’ve been a 17-12 Giants’ triumph.
DeRoo, who had been drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the 1978 NFL draft out of the University of Redlands, who had been placed on injured reserve durng his rookie season.
“I was standing on the sidelines for that play,” said DeRoo, “ducking and dodging pieces of headsets that were splintering from being smashed on the ground by various assistant coaches.”
That was the reaction to one of pro football’s biggest late-game blow-ups. Pisarcik had been taken from the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Edwards, who would eventually become a head coach at both the pro and collegiate level, changed the Eagles’ fate. It turned out to be a huge boost to an eventual Super Bowl berth two years later. Philly, who went into the game at 6-5, used that win over the Giants to reach that season’s NFL playoffs.
“Helmets were also rebounding off the turf,” said DeRoo. “John Mendenhall (a Giants’ assistant) went the highest!!!”
It was a simple play. Pisarcik was expected to take one more snap. Kneel with the football. Running out the clock. Preserving a 17-12 Giants’ upset. Instead, he botched the handoff.
The Giants-Eagles rivalry dated back to 1933.
As for the Giants in 1978, it was another step in the team’s growing era of mediocrity – 6-10, fifth place in the NFC East that season.
The Eagles, meanwhile, finished 9-7 and reached the playoffs as a wild-card. They lost to Dallas in the playoffs.
Giants’ head coach John McVay, who would eventually move on to an executive position with the Bill Walsh-coached San Francisco 49ers, lost his job in New York.
DeRoo, meanwhile, was traded to the Baltimore Colts after the season.
“I always wanted to thank John,” said De Roo, “for allowing me to go on the road trips with the team. In those days, most of the guys on IR just stayed home during road trips. I always wanted to find John and thank him for that.”