Eagles-Commanders History: ‘The Body Bag Game’ in 1990 Resulted in 6 Brutal Injuries and a Kick Returner Playing Quarterback

As the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders prepare to face off on Monday Night Football this week, let’s hop in a time machine and travel back 32 years almost to this day.

On Nov. 12, 1990, Philadelphia and Washington (then named the Redskins) engaged in one of the most physical and injury-riddled battles in NFL history. Six Redskins ended up leaving the game due to injury, and one was stretchered off in what became known as “The Body Bag Game.”

Eagles-Redskins history: Remembering “The Body Bag Game”

The year was 1990. It was the peak of the Eagles-Redskins rivalry in the NFC East, and the two teams were scheduled to face off on Monday Night Football for first place in the division.

Washington had just defeated Philadelphia, 13-7, three weeks prior, and Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan was hell-bent on revenge. Ryan didn’t just want to beat his hated division rivals, though. He wanted to hurt them.

Before the MNF matchup, the Hall of Fame head coach declared the Redskins were going to be brutalized so badly that “they’ll have to be carted off in body bags.” He wasn’t kidding.

The ferocious Eagles defense, led by Reggie White and Jerome Brown, knocked out six Washington players with injuries during the game. Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries, the only two active quarterbacks for the Redskins, both suffered game-ending injuries, and kick returner Brian Mitchell had to finish the game under center.

Here are all the injuries Washington suffered during the onslaught, per Ray Didinger of PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

  • Quarterback Jeff Rutledge (broken thumb)
  • Quarterback Stan Humphries (sprained knee)
  • Running back Gerald Riggs (sprained foot)
  • Kick returner Walter Stanley (sprained knee)
  • Wide receiver Joe Howard (concussion, carried off on a stretcher)
  • Linebacker Greg Manusky (sprained knee)

Not only did Philly’s defense inflict pain throughout the game, but it also scored two touchdowns. Safety William Frizzell scored on a 30-yard pick-six in the first quarter, and defensive lineman Clyde Simmons picked up a fumble and returned it 18 yards to the house in the third quarter. The Eagles went on to win the game, 28-14.

At one point in the game, Frizzell ran over to the Washington bench and asked, “You need any more body bags?” Hence, “The Body Bag Game” was born.

The Redskins got the last laugh over the Eagles

Byron Evans sacks Stan Humphries.
Byron Evans of the Philadelphia Eagles sacks Stan Humphries of the Washington Redskins in 1990 | Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

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The Eagles lived up to Ryan’s promise on Monday Night Football, but the Redskins ended up getting the last laugh.

Later in the season, the two NFC East rivals met in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, and Washington knocked out Philadelphia by a score of 20-6. That ended up being the final game of Ryan’s tenure as the head coach of the Eagles. The Redskins lost in the next round to the San Francisco 49ers, but they returned to the playoffs in 1991 and won the Super Bowl.

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