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Little did Harold Carmichael know that a 21-yard pass...

By
JOE JULIANO, UPI Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Little did Harold Carmichael know that a 21-yard pass he caught against the Washington Redskins in the fourth game of the 1972 season would start something that lasted for more than eight years.

That catch marked the beginning of 'The Streak' for the Philadelphia Eagles' 6-foot-8 wide receiver. It was a figure that would swell to an NFL record 106 consecutive games of catching at least one pass by the middle of the 1979 season.

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But 127 games, 434 catches, 6,547 yards and 66 touchdown catches later, 'The Streak' has ended.

Carmichael hadn't caught a pass Sunday against Dallas when the Cowboys' Dennis Thurman knocked him to the artificial turf in the second quarter with a vicious hit that spelled the end of the day -- and the streak for the 10-year veteran.

'People talked to me about the streak a lot for the past few years,' Carmichael said Monday. '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.'

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Carmichael, who noted he had 'no hard feelings at all' against Thurman, said landing hard on the artificial surface hurt him more than the hit itself. He fell heavily on his lower back and walked stiffly the remainder of the day.

'I guess I could have gone back in but I couldn't be effective,' he 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 me going back in there. I would have been only holding a spot.'

Coach Dick Vermeil said had the Eagles gotten the ball back from the Cowboys in the closing moments, he would have tried a quick screen to Carmichael to keep the streak alive. But Dallas sat on the ball and ran out the clock.

Vermeil said the end of the streak 'might have been the best thing to happen to Harold.

'It takes some of that pressure off him,' the coach said. '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 he never felt much pressure from the streak.

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'I said this millions of times,' he said, '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. I could keep the streak going just by doing the job I was asked to do.'

The streak helped the 31-year-old Carmichael gain recognition as one of the NFL's premier receivers. He recently was named to the Pro Bowl team for the fourth time in his career.

It also brought him support from fans all over the league.

'Keeping the streak alive kept the fan mail coming in, not only from Philadelphia but nationwide,' he said. 'I had great support from a lot of fans.'

As for his injury, Carmichael said he was all right and would be ready for the Eagles' first playoff game on Jan. 3 or 4.

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