One Giant Step for New York

The New York Giants have been to the Super Bowl four times in their history, winning three of those games, including last year.

In their previous three campaigns following those Super Bowls, the Giants have been Super flops. But not this year. This year the defending champs are off to a 7-1 start, the class of the NFL midway through the season.

The Giants won their first Super Bowl, XXI, in January of 1987, defeating the Denver Broncos, 39-20.

They entered the 1987 season favored to repeat, but opened with losses to the Bears and Cowboys. Then came an NFL strike and three more losses that left the team 0-5. They wound up 6-9, last in the NFC East.

The Giants defeated the Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV as Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a field goal wide right at the final gun.

Ray Handley’s Regime
During the off-season, coach Bill Parcells, right, stepped down and was succeeded by Ray Handley.

Although the Giants opened the 1991 season with a dramatic win over the 49ers, Handley was overmatched from the start. And the Giants wound up 8-8, fourth in the NFC East and out of the playoffs.

In 2001, the Baltimore Ravens throttled the G-Men, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV.

The Giants opened the 2001 season with a Monday night loss in Denver on the eve of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Coach Jim Fassel’s club bounced back to win three straight games, but successive one-point losses to the Rams and Eagles started a spiral that left the team 7-9 and out of the playoffs.

GIANT EXTRAS: When the Giants beat the Steelers, 21-14, a couple of weeks back, it marked just New York’s second visit to Pittsburgh since 1971. The Steelers won that game, 17-13, when Terry Bradshaw threw a touchdown pass to Ron Shanklin in the third quarter.

Twenty years later, in a Monday night game at Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers rallied from a 20-0 deficit to tie the game, only to see New York’s Matt Bahr win it, 23-20, with a 44-yard field goal,

For decades, the Giants and Steelers were rivals in the NFL Eastern Conference, meeting twice each season. In what is probably the most important game in their rivalry, the Steelers came into Yankee Stadium  for the final game of the 1963 season needing a win to reach the NFL Championship Game for the first time. The Giants, behind Y.A. Tittle and Frank Gifford,  prevailed, 33-17.

Perhaps they’ll meet in Super Bowl XLIII in February.

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