The day Harold Carmichael’s streak of 127 consecutive games with a reception came to an end
The Eagles receiver was held without a catch for the first time in eight years on Dec. 21, 1980
In the midst of an 0-4 start to the 1972 season, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael was about to embark on what would one day become known as “The Streak.”
The second-year wideout probably didn’t think much of his lone, 21-yard reception in the Eagles’ 14-0 loss to Washington on Oct. 8, 1972, but his second catch of the season would kick-start his NFL-record 127 consecutive games with a catch.
For more than eight years, the 6-foot-8 Southern University product would haul in at least one reception per game. When the streak ended on Dec. 21, 1980, Carmichael had amassed 434 catches, 6,547 yards and 66 touchdown receptions.
Carmichael was held without a catch in a 35-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles won their first NFC East title since 1960 despite the loss, as both teams finished 12-4 but the Eagles held the tiebreaker on best net points in the division.
“People talked to me about the streak a lot for the past few years,” Carmichael told UPI. “It was nice. I felt that I would have loved to have kept the streak going but I knew it was going to end sometime.
“Now that it’s over, my reward is winning the division title. I’ve never been on a championship team before. I’m really happy I got that far. I was very happy with the support I got throughout the streak from my family and friends. The fans were great.”
Cowboys cornerback Dennis Thurman knocked Carmichael out of the game with a terrifying hit in the second quarter. The 10-year veteran told reporters he had “no hard feelings at all” toward Thurman. A hard landing on the artificial turf did most of the damage to his lower back, Carmichael said.
Philadelphia coach Dick Vermeil would have tried a quick screen to Carmichael to maintain his streak had the Eagles gotten the ball back late in the game. But the team never had the opportunity, as Dallas ran out the clock. Vermeil said the end of the streak “might have been the best thing to happen to Harold.”
“I guess I could have gone back in, but I couldn’t be effective,” Carmichael said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Anyway, Scott [Fitzkee] and Rodney [Parker] were doing such a great job there was no sense in me going back in there. I would have been only holding a spot.”
Said Vermeil: “It takes some of that pressure off him. That concern [to keep the streak alive] no longer has to be there. It’s a great record. It will be broken someday, but maybe not for years.”
Carmichael said the streak didn’t pile any additional pressure on him. He was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl after the 1980 season.
“I said this millions of times that I didn’t have any pressure outside of the pressure of just doing my job and not just concerning myself with catching one pass,” he said. “I could keep the streak going just by doing the job I was asked to do.
“Keeping the streak alive kept the fan mail coming in, not only from Philadelphia but nationwide. I had great support from a lot of fans.”
Carmichael’s record stood until 1986, when Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent caught a pass in his 128th consecutive game. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice might have put the record out of reach with a catch in 274 consecutive games from 1985 to 2004.