If the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XLV, they will tie the New York Giants for third place on the list of all-time NFL champions with seven apiece.
The Steelers are shooting for their seventh Super Bowl. The Giants have won three Super Bowls, three other NFL championship games, and one title in 1927 before the league began playoff series.
The Green Bay Packers lead the all-time list with 12, including the first two Super Bowls. The Chicago Bears are next in line with nine championships.
The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have each won five Super Bowls.
What a week for the Giants.
First the San Francisco Baseball entry wins its first World Series in 56 years….and the first ever for the City by the Bay.
Then the New York Football Giants play perhaps the greatest first half in their 85-year history, taking a 35-0 lead against the Seattle Seahawks. Three touchdown passes from Eli Manning and a pair of touchdown runs by Ahmad Bradshaw led the way in an eventual 41-7 win.
The 35-0 halftime lead was the largest the Giants have enjoyed since 1959, when three TD passes by Charlie Conerly, two to Bob Schnelker, and a fourth by Frank Gifford gave Big Blue a 38-0 lead over the Washington Redskins. The Giants eventually won that game, 45-14, at Yankee Stadium. The Giants finished 10-2 that year before losing to the Colts in the NFL championship game for the second year in a row.
The glass has been half full before for the Giants. In 1963, already saddled with two losses, the Giants marched into Cleveland, caused an early Jim Brown fumble, and rumbled to a 23-0 halftime lead over the unbeaten Browns. The Giants won 33-6 holding Brown to a mere 40 yards rushing and even blocking the extra point after Cleveland scored late in the game. That Giants team won the Eastern Conference before losing to the Chicago Bears in the NFL title game at Wrigley Field.
In the first round of the 1986 playoffs, the Giants recovered an early Jerry Rice fumble and took a 28-3 lead at the half when Jeff Burt’s hit knocked Joe Montana out of the game and Lawrence Taylor intercepted the wobbly Montana pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. The G-Men went on to win the game 49-3 on the way to their first Super Bowl
And in the 2000 NFC championship game, Kerry Collins threw four of his five touchdown passes in the first half, two to Ike Hilliard, and the Giants took a 34-0 lead into the locker room. The final 41-0 shutout win remains the largest shutout in NFC championship game history. The Giants went to the Super Bowl that year but were trounced by the Baltimore Ravens.
It would have been a tight squeeze, but with a little ingenuity fans could have seen the Knicks, Giants and Rangers on the same day.
The enterprising New York could have caught three originals franchises in action today – the Knicks, Giants and Rangers.
- The Knicks in a noon matinee against the Nets at the Garden
- The Giants in a 4:15 kick against the Cowboys in the Meadowlands
- And the Rangers in a 7 pm face against the Red Wings at MSG
Sure, it’s probably happened before. And it would have taken some hop-scotch back and forth across or under the Hudson to make it happen again.
But if anyone out there did it, send me a post card.
You are my hero.
Who are you rooting for Sunday, Cardinals or Steelers?
I’m rooting for overtime.
Actually, I’m rooting for a good Super Bowl game with historic ramifications. Overtime would practically guarantee both.
I have little rooting interest in either the Cardinals or the Steelers. Oh sure, the Cardinals would be a Cinderella story. It’s like having the St. Louis Browns… or Tampa Bay Rays…win the World Series.
But I don’t know a single person who is an Arizona Cardinals fan.
On the other hand, I know plenty of Steelers fans, some of whom will be on Tampa this Sunday. The Steelers have a tremendous national following. That’s what five Super Bowl rings do for a team.
I’m rooting for a good game, a close game, an exciting game. I’m rooting for overtime.
It’s been 50 seasons since the first, last and only NFL championship game to end in overtime. That game, between the Colts and Giants in 1958, has been called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
We’re long overdue for another.
And remember, if Super Bowl XLIII goes into overtime, you heard it here first.
Impress your friends, win bets, make money with these 10 NFL tidbits:
The Giants, coming off the best Super Bowl ever, are the only team in the NFL to have beaten the Steelers, Ravens, Eagles and Cardinals this year.
The Cardinals are one of six teams never to have played in a Super Bowl. The Lions, Saints, Jaguars, Texans and Browns are the others.
Now that the Cardinals are playing for the NFC title, only the Texans have never made at least a conference championship game since the Super Bowl began..
The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. Philadelphia lost Super Bowl XV to the Raiders, 27-10, and Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots, 24-21.
Super Bowl XXLIII certainty: The NFC will have an entrant that has never won a Super Bowl. Never ever.
The Ravens won the only Super Bowl they played, beating the Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV.
The Steelers are tied with the Cowboys and 49ers for most Super Bowl championships — five.
A Philadelphia-Pittsburgh all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl would mark only the third occasion where two teams from the same state faced off for the NFL’s ultimate prize. Giants-Bills in Super Bowl XXV and 49ers-Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX were the others.
A Philadelphia win in the Super Bowl would give the NFC East 12 championships, twice as many as any other division.
No team has ever played a Super Bowl at home. Next year’s game is scheduled for Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
The SportsLifer couldn’t get through the year without one more top 10 list.
So here they are, the top 10 moments in New York sports, 2008.
1. Catch XLII: Sparked by the unbelievable Eli Manning to David Tyree pass play, the Giants rally to defeat the previously unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.
2. Yankee Money: Failing to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, Yankees sign free agents C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texiera.
3. House Cleaning: The Knicks finally manage to get rid of Isiah Thomas, and new coach Mike D’Antoni puts Stephon Marbury out to pasture.
4. Collapse: For the second year in a row, the Mets fall apart in a September swoon and allow the Phillies to steal the NL East championship.
5. Collapse Redux: Brett Favre and the Jets lose four of their final five games and miss the playoffs, forcing the removal of coach Eric Mangini.
6. Final Farewell: Many of the greats return as the Yankees play the final game in the House that Ruth Built and the Mets close Shea Stadium.
7. Giants Among Men: Despite the distraction of the Plaxico Burress shooting, the Giants earn top seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs.
8. He Said, He Said: Disgraced Roger Clemens tries to clear his name of steroid allegations by trainer Brian McNamee.
9. Domination on Ice: The Rangers continue their sudden mastery of the cross-river rival Devils, taking round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs 4 games to 1.
10. Smart Sign: The Mets pull a huge off-season deal, acquiring left-handed pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins to fortify their pitching staff.
When they are good, the New York Giants are the epitome of smashmouth football.
One of the key elements of smashmouth football is a strong offensive line and a physical running attack that’s reliable in all sorts of weather. The Giants have had some terrific rushing offenses through the years, but they’ve never had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
That is, until this year. Brandon Jacobs, above, surpassed 1,000 yards several weeks ago, and Derrick Ward, below, coming off a 215-yard effort against the Panthers last week, is just 51 yards short. No doubt, the Giants will try and get Ward those yards in the season finale against the Vikings.
The Giants have a long history of outstanding runners, including Hall of Famer Frank Gifford and fullback Alex Webster, who led a successful run in the 50s and early 60s, featuring six NFL Eastern Conference titles and the NFL championship in 1956.
And in the past couple of decades, the Giants have played smashmouth football as well as anyone. In fact, counting their first Super Bowl win in 1987, the Giants have won three NFL championships in the last 22 years.
That’s the same number of Super Bowl won by the 49ers, Cowboys and Patriots during that stretch. And this year they have the inside track towards another Super Bowl as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The road to the Super Bowl goes through the Meadowlands.
Super Bowl Era
The lead back on the Giants first Super Bowl champion was Joe Morris, the dynamic running back from Syracuse. Morris rushed for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1986, including back-to-back 181-yard games against the Redskins and Cowboys in key mid-season battles.
Ottis Anderson, below, and rookie Rodney Hampton led the Giants 1990 championship squad that beat the Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV, a game in which Anderson was named MVP. Anderson ran for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns that year. Hampton rushed for 455 yards before breaking his leg near the end of the season.
Last year, when the Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Jacobs led the running attack with 1009 yards. Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw were the other key running backs, though neither approached the 1,000-yard mark.
Tiki Barber, the Giants all-time and single-season rushing leader, never won in a Super Bowl, though he did play in the 34-7 loss to the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. Barber gained 10,449 yards in a 10-year career, including a high of 1,860 yards in 2005.
Hampton stands second on New York’s all-time rushing leader list with 6,897 yards, followed by Morris (5,296) and Webster (4,638) and Ron Johnson (3,836).
Johnson was the first Giant to rush for 1,000 yards (1,027) in 1970. Here’s the all-time list:
Giants 1,000 Yard Rushers
Tiki Barber – 6
Rodney Hampton – 5
Joe Morris – 3
Ron Johnson – 2
Brandon Jacobs – 2*
Ottis Anderson – 1
Gary Brown – 1
* includes 2008 season
It may have been “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” But in New York, it was “The Greatest Game Never Seen.”
The famous 1958 NFL championship game between the Giants and Colts was televised nationally on NBC, but blacked out in New York.
Fifty years later, New York football fans finally got a chance to see the game — or at least a colorized, condensed version of it – on ESPN the other night. The contest, won by the Colts, 23-17, at Yankee Stadium, is still the only pro football championship game ever to go into overtime.
Why was the game blacked out in New York? NFL policy at the time mandated a black-out all home games regardless of whether they were sold out. That policy was in effect virtually from the beginning of the television era, until 1973, and still holds for games that are not sold out. In fact, all Super Bowl games prior to VII were blacked out in the host market.
The TV broadcasters that day were Chris Schenkel, the voice of the Giants, and Chuck Thompson, the voice of the Colts. Many Giants fans listened to Bob Wolff call the game on radio.
Those days, Giants fans would migrate to Connecticut to see games, or build large antennas to pick up TV signals from Hartford and New Haven.
The Giants had a much tougher road to the 1958 championship than the Colts. Going into the final game of the regular season, they needed to beat the Cleveland Browns at Yankee Stadium to earn a tie at the top of the Eastern Conference.
A seven-year-old kid, I vaguely recall that game — the oldest sibling listening to the game in the car on the way back from a family trip to Brooklyn in a driving snowstorm. Pat Summerall kicked a 49-yard field goal to give the Giants a 13-10 win.
The following week, in a playoff game at Yankee Stadium, the Giants limited Jim Brown to a career-low eight yards in seven carries and shut out Cleveland, 10-0, their third win over the Browns that season.
The Colts were the more rested team in the championship game and it showed, as they wore down the Giants in the fourth quarter and overtime to earn the win. The game that is credited with increasing the popularity of professional football in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
A total of 17 players, coaches and owners involved with the 1958 championship game are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here’s the list:
New York Giants
OL Rosey Brown
HB Frank Gifford
LB Sam Huff
WR Don Maynard
DE Andy Robustelli
DB Emlen Tunnell
Offensive Coordinator Vince Lombardi
Defensive Coordinator Tom Landry
Owner Tim Mara
Vice President / Secretary Wellington Mara
WR Raymond Berry
DL Art Donovan
DL Gino Marchetti
HB/WR Lenny Moore
OL Jim Parker
QB Johnny Unitas
Head Coach Weeb Ewbank
Maybe, Just Maybe…
New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was the MVP of Super Bowl XXI.
The Giants, the class of the NFC, have already proven they can get there — and win. They did it last year, they lead the conference this year.
And if the Jets can knock off the unbeaten Titans on Sunday, then they’ll have to be considered one of the top-line favorites in the AFC. No matter what happens, the Jets are in good position to win the AFC East.
Only five times since Super Bowl I in 1967 have New York’s NFL entries, the Giants and Jets. made the playoffs in the same season. That’s five times in 42 seasons.
The only year both New York entries made a serious run in the same season was 1986, The G-Men went 14-2 that year, and trounced the 49ers (49-3), Redskins (17-0) and Broncos (39-20) to win their first Super Bowl.
At one point that season the Jets were 10-1; then they lost five straight games. They beat the Chiefs, 35-15, in the first round of the playoffs, then blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Browns, 23-20, on Mark Moseley’s field goal, pictured right, in a marathon double overtime game, one of the longest in NFL history.
1981: On the final weekend of the season, the Giants beat the Cowboys, 13-10, in overtime on a field goal by Joe Danelo, then cheered for the Jets the next day. And the Jets came through, romping over the Packers, 28-3, to put both New York teams into the playoffs together for the first time. The following Sunday, December 27, the Bills beat the Jets, 31-27, at Shea Stadium before the Giants upset the Eagles, 27-21, in Philadelphia. The 49ers beat the Giants, 38-24, the following week and went on to win their first Super Bowl.
1985: The Giants finished 10-6, then beat the defending champion 49ers, 17-3, at the Meadowlands. Big Blue was shut out, 21-0, by the Bears the next Sunday in Chicago. The Jets were 11-5, but dropped a 26-14 decision to the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. The Bears beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl that year.
2002: G-Men won their last four, including a 10-7 overtime win over the Eagles, courtesy of a Matt Bryant field goal, in their last game, to wind up 10-6. They then blow a 38-14 lead to the 49ers and lost, 39-38 in the NFC wild card round. The Jets went 9-7 and blanked the Colts, 41-0, before losing to the Raiders, 30-10.
2006: Big Blue goes 8-8 to earn a playoff spot, but loses to the Eagles, 23-20. Jets finish 10-6, but lose to the eventual champion Patriots, 37-16..
Sometimes, fantasy football can overshadow reality.
Last year, my fantasy team, the Dutchess Dawgs, advanced to the league championship game, led by New England quarterback Tom Brady. That day, the Patriots played the Jets in a cold monsoon at Foxboro. Due to the windy conditions, the Patriots were forced to taper down their offense and turn to the ground game almost exclusively. The result was a workmanlike 20-10 win to extended New England’s record to 14-0.
Of course it meant sense to jettison the passing game, considering the weather conditions. Yet I couldn’t help screaming at Bill Belichick to open up and let Brady air it out.
That December drenching cost the Dawgs a fantasy championship.
Well, the Dawgs are back at it this year, with a completely new lineup, outside of tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gone are Brady, Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress, and the Vikings and Chargers defense/special teams. And Frank “What is he good for” Gore.
The new Puppies feature the likes of Drew Brees at quarterback, Clinton Portis and Ronnie Brown at running back, Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson at the wideouts, and the Giants defense/special teams.
In the NFL opener, the Giants defense registered just one sack and no turnovers despite a dominant performance. That’s not much in the world of fantasy football, just one point.
But in reality, the defending Super Bowl champions beat Washington, 16-7.
And in reality, the Dutchess Dawgs face Tom Brady on Sunday.
Or is that fantasy?