EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - These are the three dates that, for the New York Giants, will live in infamy.
Nov. 19, 1978.
Oct. 19, 2003.
Dec. 19, 2010.
Each happened on the 19th. Each involved the Eagles snatching an improbable-to-impossible victory from the Giants on a tract of land known as the Meadowlands. The first was Herman Edwards' return of a fumbled handoff as the Giants were running out the clock to secure a win, an unconscionably dumb play from its inception. The second was Brian Westbrook's 84-yard return of a punt for a touchdown that saved the Eagles' 2003 season. Now, DeSean Jackson has a 65-yard punt return at the gun to cap a comeback from 24-3 at the half and 31-10 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Three people affiliated with the Eagles saw all three miracles in person.
One is Merrill Reese, the team's radio voice. Another is Harold Carmichael, a wide receiver on the team in 1978 and, then as now, a sideline presence in 2003 as the team's director of player development and alumni.
This third is Mike Dougherty, the team's video director.
"And I still can't believe it," Dougherty was saying yesterday, amid the celebration in the Eagles' locker room.
His face is not well-known outside of the team, but he has worn Eagles garb and ventured, along with his crew, into special photo perches at NFL stadiums for nearly 40 years. He is often exposed to the elements and often exposed to the taunts of opposing fans. Like yesterday, when the Eagles trailed by three touchdowns at halftime and again, later, in the fourth quarter.
"The people are right in front of me," Dougherty said. "We fell behind and I'm hearing it all day - and I mean hearing it. They were just killing me, the whole day."
But then the Eagles began to mount their final, furious comeback. And then, somehow, the Giants decided to punt to Jackson on the last play of the game. As the punt return began, as the whole amazing thing was unfolding, Dougherty said he was so concentrated on getting the wide shot required by the coaches that he wasn't entirely sure what was happening in the middle of that shot.
"And then there was silence, just dead silence," Dougherty said.
Then he was sure.