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Turn of Century has Turned for Eagles Over Browns

By Ryan Shute, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The 49th meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns will take place at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The first 48 meetings overall have gone the Browns way, as they hold the series lead 31-16-1. The series was especially one sided during the years when Cleveland was led by one of pro football's all-time greatest rushers named Jim Brown. In his 12 career games against the Birds between the 1960-1965 seasons, Cleveland was 8-3-1, while Brown ran his way to 1,631 yards and 32 touchdowns.

In terms of rate per game, a typical day’s work for Brown during this dominating stretch was 23.2 carries for 135.9 yards and 2.7 touchdowns.

Brown's best game came in 1961 during Week 10, when he carried the ball 34 times for 237 yards and four touchdowns against the defending NFL champions giving Cleveland a 45-24 victory.

But since the year 2000, the Eagles have been a perfect 4-0 against the Browns.

In a Week 15 meeting in the 2000 season, current Eagles head coach Doug Pederson started at quarterback for the Browns, going head-to-head with the man he mentored the season before in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb.

Pederson had himself a solid performance throwing for 309 yards and a touchdown, but it was his former pupil McNabb who upstaged him throwing for 390 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-24 win for the Eagles.

They would meet again in Week 7 of the 2004 season, where the 5-0 Eagles struggled against a Cleveland team that came into the matchup with three wins and would go on to win just one more game the rest of the season.

McNabb was able to duplicate his previous passing touchdown total of four and the newly acquired wide receiver Terrell Owens was the recipient of two of those touchdown passes to go along with his 109 receiving yards. It took a David Akers 50-yard field goal in overtime to get the Eagles to 6-0 in a high scoring affair that ended, 34-31.

The best way to describe the most recent meeting between the clubs is ugly. The 2012 season opener saw the Birds and Browns combine for nine turnovers and four of the seven scoring plays coming by way of field goals.

Cleveland defender D’Qwell Jackson’s pick six would give the Browns a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Eagles quarterback Michael Vick would have the final say. Vick led the Eagles on a late fourth quarter 16-play, 91-yard drive that was capped off with a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clay Harbor for the 17-16 Eagles win.

After Sunday's meeting, it will be another four years until these two franchises meet again. Some of the facts we already know that will be discussed about this 2016 opener four years down the road will be how Hue Jackson and Doug Pederson each made their head coaching debut for their respective franchises and how Carson Wentz made his first career NFL start, making him the first Eagles rookie quarterback to start in Week 1 since Davey O’Brien in 1939.

There will also be questions we have now that will not be answered until we reach those four years down the road. Will Jackson have returned the Browns to respectability? Has the Doug Pederson era been a success in Philadelphia? And last but certainly not least, what is Carson Wentz’s stamp on the Eagles franchise?

See you again in four years Cleveland.

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