Tom Brady always wins…except vs. the Giants

Tom Brady always wins – except against the Giants. That adage will be put to the test on Sunday when the unbeaten (8-0) Patriots visit Met Life Stadium to face the 5-4 Giants.

“We’ve always had a hard time beating these guys one way or another,” Brady said. “So hopefully we can get over our struggles and finally go out and play well and beat them”

Super Tom Brady, the quarterback who squeezed the air out of the NFL in Deflategate and won, has lost his last three meetings against the Giants, all decided by four points or less. In 2008, the Patriots came into Super Bowl 42 unbeaten (18-0) and huge favorites, only to bow to the Giants 17-14. That Super Bowl, one of the most famous in history, featured David Tyree’s helmet catch and Plaxico Burress’ game-winning TD catch with 35 seconds left – both on passes by Eli Manning.

Years later, Brady told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, “I remember after the game I was trying to think, ‘Man, am I dreaming?’ Let me wake up and then start the day over. I just didn’t think we could lose.”

Four years later, the Giants again beat the Pats, this time 21-17 in Super Bowl 46. Manning led the Giants to another last-minute, go-ahead touchdown drive that featured an amazing pass and catch by Mario Manningham.

The Giants also beat New England 24-20 in a 2011 regular season game at Foxboro, a game the Giants won on a Manning touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining.

Brady has a pair of wins against the Giants in his career. The Patriots edged the Giants 38-35 in the final game of the 2007 campaign to finish the regular season unbeaten. And in 2003, Brady led the Pats to a 17-6 win over the Giants and QB Kerry Collins when Eli was still at Ole Miss.

Overall, Brady is 2-3 against the Giants, averaging 226 yards, 1.4 touchdowns and 0.6 interceptions per game. Rather pedestrian numbers for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

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The top 10 NFL draft classes

With the NFL draft on tap next week, what better time to review the top 10 drafts in NFL history.

Players are ultimately judged by election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s the main criteria for this exercise. It’s difficult to rate and rank recent drafts, since many of those players – at least the good ones – are still active and years from Hall of Fame eligibility. Here’s the SL top 10:

1. 1957 – Green Bay selected Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung of Notre Dame with the first overall pick. Len Dawson (5th), Jimmy Brown (6th), right, and Jim Parker (8th) were also first rounders and Hall of Famers. In all, eight eventual Hall of Famers were picked, including Tommy McDonald in the third round, Sonny Jurgensen in the fourth, Henry Jordan in the fifth and Gene Hickerson in the seventh. Cleveland had three Hall of Fame picks in Brown, generally considered the best running back in history, Jordan, a defensive tackle, and Hickerson, who played offensive guard. Jordan played two years with the Browns before being traded to the Packers. Jon Arnett, John Brodie and Ron Kramer, standouts in their own right, were the second, third and fourth overall selections.

2. 1967 – This class also had eight Hall of Famers, four of them — Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page and Gene Upshaw – going in the first round. Ken Houston, Willie Lanier, Lem Barney and Rayfield Wright were the other HOFers in this draft class. Bubba Smith was the first overall pick, and other notables included Gene Washington, John Gilliam and Rick Volk. The classes of 1957 and 1967 have more Hall of Fame inductees than any others in NFL history.

3. 1983 – The greatest quarterback class ever. Hall of Famers John Elway, #1 overall, Jim Kelly (14th) and Dan Marino (27th) were all drafted in the first round, along with Todd Blackledge (7th), Tony Eason (15th) and Ken O’Brien (27th). HOFers Eric Dickerson (2nd), Bruce Matthews (9th) and Darnell Green,(28th) were also drafted in the first round. In total, a record six Hall of Famers were picked in round one. Richard Dent, another Hall of Famer, went in the eighth round.

4. 1974 – Pittsburgh built a dynasty with this draft, as wide receiver Lynn Swann (1st round), left, linebacker Jack Lambert (2nd), wide receiver John Stallworth (4th) and center Mike Webster (5th) were all eventually enshrined in Canton. Dave Casper of Oakland was drafted in the second round.

5. 1968: There weren’t a ton of iconic stats in this class, but there were six Hall of Famers – Elvin Bethea, Art Shell, Ron Yary, Charlie Sanders, Curley Culp and Larry Csonka. Ron Yary was the first overall pick, and Ken Stabler, Claude Humphrey and Harold Jackson were also 1968 class members.

6. 1981 – The Giants picked linebacker Lawrence Taylor second overall after the Saints selected running back George Rogers. Taylor and San Francisco first round pick safety Ronnie Lott were Hall of Famers, along with defenders Mike Singletary, Howie Long and Rickey Jackson, all picked in round two, and offensive guard Russ Grimm, a third-round selection. Perhaps the greatest defensive draft class ever.

7. 1989 – This top-heavy draft saw four Hall of Fame players selected in the first five picks – Troy Aikman (1st), Barry Sanders (3rd), Derrick Thomas (4th) and Deion Sanders (5th). Lem Barney and Willie Lanier, both second-round selections, are now enshrined in Canton as well.

8. 1964 – Bob Brown, Charley Taylor, Carl Eller and Paul Warfield were drafted in round one, Mel Renfro and Paul Krause in round two.

1952 – Les Richter, Ollie Matson, Huge McElheney and Frank Gifford were first-round selections and Gino Marchetti, right, was the first pick in round two. Marchetti and Matson played together at the University of San Francisco in 1951 before the Dons dropped football. A third member of that team, offensive tackle Bob St. Clair who passed away this week, was drafted in 1953. No other college football team ever had three future Pro Football Hall of Famers on the roster at the same time.

10. 1961 – Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Herb Adderley and Bob Lilly all went in the first round. Scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton was top pick in round three.

Recent vintage drafts

1992 – Four Hall of Famers were drafted — Willie Roaf and Jerome Bettis in round one, Michael Strahan in round two and Will Shields in round three.

1995 – Tampa Bay had two HOF picks in the first round, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Running back Curtis Martin went to New England in round three.

1998 – Peyton Manning was the first overall pick by Indianapolis. Charles Woodson went number four overall. Ryan Leaf, number two overall, was a huge bust.

2004 – Eli Manning went first overall to San Diego, then was shipped to the Giants for Philip Rivers. A third quarterback, Ben Rothelsberger, went 11th overall to Pittsburgh.

2007 – Some solid first round picks, including Calvin Johnson (2nd overall), Joe Thomas (3rd), Adrian Peterson (7th) and Marshawn Lynch (12th). All have worked out good. The first overall pick JaMarcus Russell by Oakland — not so good.

2011 – Cam Newton (1st), AJ Green (4th), Julio Jones (6th) and JJ Watt (11th) were starry first-round picks in this class.

The first draft

The first NFL draft was held in 1936. Hall of Fame tackle Joe Stydahar was picked by the Bears in the first round, #6 overall. Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans (2nd round), Wayne Millner Boston Redskins (8th) and Dan Fortmann (9th) were the other future Hall of Famers from this inaugural class.

The first overall pick that year was Jay Berwanger, the University of Chicago halfback and winner of the first Heisman Trophy. Berwanger was picked by the Eagles, who traded his rights to the Bears. However owner and coach George Halas could not convince Berwanger to sign with Chicago. He reputedly wanted $1,000 per game.

Berwanger later expressed regret that he did not accept Halas’ offer. After graduating, Berwanger worked briefly as a sportswriter (reputedly he wrote one of the first blogs) and later became a manufacturer of plastic car parts. He was very modest about the Heisman, and used the trophy as a doorstop in his library.


Giants going from bad to worst

            Eli Manning knows it. So do the Giants. Something stinks in New York.

 

Knock, knock

Who’s there?

Owen

Owen who?

Owen five New York Giants

The Giants have been around for 88 years, just like my father. But less than two years after their thrilling Super Bowl triumph over the Patriots, the Giants are on the way to their worst season ever.

For the first time under Tom Coughlin and just the third time in their history, the Giants are 0-5. Throw out the 1987 start, when they used replacement players during a labor lockout, and the Giants last began 0-5 in 1979.

That year, they lost twice to the Eagles, and also fell to the Cardinals, Redskins and Saints under Archie Manning. Then a rookie rookie quarterback named Phil Simms took over and led them to four straight wins and a 6-10 final record.

The other 0-5 start — go back to 1976, the first year in Giants Stadium, when New York lost its’ first nine games en route to a 3-11 mark.

Today’s Giants don’t play defense. The last team to allow five straight opponents to score 30 or more points to start the season was the 1954 Chicago Cardinals. No Giants team has ever given up 182 points in five games to start the year. Check. Check.

The offense has been just as futile. The 38-0 defeat at the hands of the Panthers in week 2 was the Giants worst shutout loss in 40 years, when  the Raiders, behind quarterbacks Ken Stabler and Darryl Lamonica and an ageless kicker named George Blanda, beat New York 42-0.

Wait, it gets worse. The five worst teams club history all started better than this year’s Giants:

  • The 1966 team, which finished 1-12-1 — the worst won-loss record in team history — and allowed a record 501 points, tied the Steelers 34-34 in the opening game
  • Bill Arnsparger’s 1974 team stunned the Cowboys in game three yet finished 2-12
  • The 2-11-1 1973 squad beat the Oilers and tied the Eagles in the first two games before losing seven in a row
  • The 1966 Giants managed to beat the Redskins 13-10 in week three and wound up 2-10-2
  • And in 1947 the Giants tied the Boston Yanks 7-7 in the opener and finished 2-8-2

These teams may soon have company. Look on the bright side, Giants fans. Sundays are opening up. Join the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes, win valuable prizes.

PS — In case you’re wondering, the worst shutout loss in Giants history — 45-0 to the Eagles in 1948. And the biggest losing margin — 56 points, a 63-7 embarrassment to the Steelers in 1952.


Top 10: Giants kings of big game drama

 

The New York Giants have been involved in more dramatic big games than any other team in NFL history. From three classic Super Bowls to overtime NFC Championships to “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” the Giants have given New York fans (and football fans everywhere) a full load of  fantastic finishes.

In the past 25 years, the Giants are 4-1 in Super Bowls and 5-0 in NFC Championship games. Six of those games came down to the final play…..and the Giants won ’em all.

Here are the 10 most exciting big games in New York Football Giants history:

1. Giants 17, Patriots 14, Super Bowl XLII, 2008 — Sparked by an impossible catch by David Tyree, Eli Manning then hits Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining as the Giants knock off previously unbeaten 18-0 New England in a huge upset.

2. Giants 20, Bills 19, Super Bowl XXV, 1991 — Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal sails wide right at the finish and the Giants, behind backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler and MVP Ottis Anderson, defeat the heavily-favored  Bills in the closest game in Super Bowl history.

3. Giants 21, Patriots 17, Super Bowl XLVI, 2012  — Ahmad Bradshaw backs into the end zone for the winning touchdown with 57 seconds left and Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass fails to connect as the Giants win their fourth Super Bowl and eighth NFL championship.

4. Giants 23, Packers 20,OT,  NFC Championship, 2008 — Lawrence Tynes, right, who earlier had missed two field goals, kicks a 47-yarder in overtime to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay in one of the coldest games in football history.

5. Giants 20, 49ers 17, OT, NFC Championship, 2012 — It’s a case of deja blue all over again. Following a fumbled punt, Lawrence Tynes kicks the Giants into the Super Bowl with a 31-yard field goal in rainy San Francisco.

6. Giants 15, 49ers 13, NFC Championship, 1991 — Matt Bahr makes a 42-yard field goal at the final gun following a fumble recovery by Lawrence Taylor as the Giants end San Francisco’s dreams of a three-peat.

7. Giants 13, Browns 10, 1958 — Pat Summerall’s 49-yard field goal in a driving snowstorm, below left, gives the Giants a victory and a share of the NFL East title. The Giants beat Cleveland 10-0 in a playoff the following week, but, then lose to the Colts in the NFL Championship game.

8. Giants 13, Cowboys 10, OT, 1981 — Joe Danelo’s field goal — and a Jets win over the Packers the next day — propels the Giants into the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. They go on to beat the Eagles before losing to the 49ers.

9. Giants 23, Packers 17, NFL Championship, 1938 — Trailing 17-16 in the fourth quarter, the Giants rally as former MLB umpire Hank Soar makes a leaping catch of Ed Danowski’s pass for the winning touchdown.

10. Giants 17, Browns 13, 1950 — The Giants trail 13-3 at the half before rallying on touchdown runs by Forrest Griffith and Joe Scott to beat the Browns, who had arrived from the All-America Football Conference to dominate the NFL in their first year..

You Can’t Win Em All

Naturally, the Giants have suffered some heartbreaking losses as well, Setbacks to the Jets in 1988 and the Eagles in 2010 knocked them out of  playoff spots. Then there was an overtime loss to the Cowboys in the final game of the 1993 regular season that cost New York the NFC East crown.

And who can forget the “The Miracle at the Meadowlands” in 1978 when Philadelphia’s Herm Edwards returned a fumble for a touchdown as the Giants failed  to take a knee and  run out the clock.

Here are the Giants five most dramatically horrifying playoff losses:

1. Colts 23, Giants 17, OT, NFL Championship, 1958 — In “The Greatest Game Ever Played” quarterback Johnny Unitas sparks a fourth-quarter rally and Alan Amache scores the winning touchdown Baltimore prevails at Yankee Stadium. It remains the only NFL championship game ever to be decided in overtime.

2. 49ers, Giants 38, NFC wild card round, 2003 — The 49ers overcome a 24-point deficit to win in the second greatest comeback in NFL playoff history.

3. Vikings 23, Giants 22, wild card round, 1997 — Minnesota overcomes 19-3 halftime deficit and scores 10 points in last 1:30 to win a wild card playoff matchup.

4. Bears 23, Giants 21, NFL Championship, 1933 —The  Bears tally a late touchdown on trick play to win the first NFL Championship game.

5. Rams 19, Giants 13, OT, NFC divisional round, 1990 — Flipper Anderson catches a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jim Everett as Los Angeles upset the Giants in the Meadowlands.


Read this blog before Super Bowl XLVI

It won’t get you a ticket to Super Bowl XLVI, but you’ll amaze your friends and relatives with these football factoids. And may you roll winners in all your pools.

Quarter Century Club: Some 25 years ago last week, the Giants won their first Super Bowl. Over the past quarter century, four teams — the Giants, Patriots, 49ers and Cowboys — have won three Super Bowls apiece. Four others — the Redskins, Packers, Broncos and Steelers — have won two apiece. No team has won more than three. The Pats have played in six Super Bowls in the past 25 years and the Giants five. So the winner of this year’s Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots will be considered the best NFL team of the past quarter century.

Been There, Done That: For just the fourth time in history, the Super Bowl matches coaches who have won previous Super Bowls.  Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick join Bill Walsh (49ers) and Don Shula (Dolphins), 1985, and Chuck Noll (Steelers) and Tom Landy (Cowboys), who matched wits in 1976 and 1979.

Parcell Roots: Coughlin and Belichick were both assistants to Bill Parcells when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV in 1991. Coughlin was the receivers coach, and Belichick as defensive coordinator designed the scheme that beat the heavily-favored Bills.

Roger Terry, It’s Eli and Tom: For only the third time in history, quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls — Tom Brady (3) and Eli Manning (1) — are facing off again. Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and Dallas’ Roger Staubach met in 1976 and again in 1979.  The Steelers won both encounters.

Been There, Done That, Redux: Giants-Patriots is just the sixth rematch in Super Bowl history. Steelers-Cowboys three times, 49ers-Bengals twice. Dolphins-Redskins twice and Cowboys-Bills twice are the others.

Lucky Seven: If the Giants win Sunday, they will be the first seven-loss champion in NFL history.

Coaching Icons: Bill Belichick will be coaching in his fifth Super Bowl, same as Tom Landry and one behind the all-time leader, Don Shula.

Starting QBs: Tom Brady will join the Broncos John Elway as the only quarterbacks history to start five Super Bowls

If I Were A Betting Man: How long with the National Anthem last (over/under 1:36)? How many times will they show Peyton Manning on TV (over/under 5 1./2 times)?; How many viewers will watch the game (over/under 115 million?. And my favorite — where will the coin toss land __ heads $110 vs tails $110. Point spread 3; over/under 55)

Only the Lonely: Four current teams — Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans — have never reached the Super Bowl. The Lions and Browns did win NFL championships four times apiece.

Longest Drought: The Jets last appeared in Super Bowl III in 1969 and the Chiefs the following year.

Glass Half Full: The Giants trailed at halftime of all four Super Bowls in which they played, yet managed to win three of them.

Giants-Pats at Harvard: Not counting Super Bowl XLII, the Giants and Patriots have met nine times in the regular season, with the Pats holding a 5-4 edge. In their first meeting in 1970, the Giants beat the Boston Patriots 16-0 at Harvard Stadium. Pete Gogolak kicked three field goals that day, and Fran Tarkenton threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Clifton McNeil. Joe Kapp was the Patriots quarterback.

Three-peat: The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl five times in the past 10 years; the previous four games were all decided by three points.

Streaking: The Pats have won 10 game in a row. The Giants are riding a five-game win streak.

Almost, But Not Quite: The Giants and Patriots came close to meeting in several other Super Bowls. A year after the Pats lost to the Bears in 1986, the Giants won their first Super Bowl, beating the Broncos. And the Patriots beat the Rams to win their first Super Bowl in 2002 — a year after the Giants lost to the Ravens.


The Glass Is Half Full for Giants

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.


Giant Bummers: 20 Worst Losses in Big Blue History

The Philadelphia Eagles put the squeeze on Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

The New York Football Giants have had lots of tough losses over the years, but the 23-11 setback to the Eagles on Sunday must rank as one of the most difficult of all.

Expectations were extremely high for the defending Super Bowl champions, who entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

In the seasons following their first three Super Bowls (1987, 1991 and 2001) the Giants failed to make the playoffs. This year was different as the Giants made their mark early and went into the playoffs as Super Bowl favorites.

Perhaps what hurts most is that the G-Men were so close to repeating the euphoria of last year’s “Road Warrior” playoff run, capped by the stunning upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII..

But glory, as they say, is fleeting. Always has been, always will be.

And the Giants have had suffered plenty of heartbreakers in the past — the overtime loss to the Baltimore Colts in 1958, the three successive championship game losses in the early 60s, the playoff meltdowns against the Vikings in 1997 and the 49ers in 2003, right, and the impossible loss to the Eagles in “The Miracle at the Meadowlands” in 1978.

In light of yesterday’s loss, here’s a list of the 20 worst losses in Giants history.

The Worst of the Giants

Eagles 23, Giants 11, Jan. 11, 2009 — Top-seeded Giants lose in divisional playoff, dashing hopes of Super Bowl repeat

49ers 39, Giants 38, Jan. 5, 2003 — Giants blow 38-14 lead, lose to 49ers in controversial, wild card playoff finish

Ravens 34, Giants 7, Jan. 28,  2001 — Ravens defense overwhelms Giants at Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa

Vikings 23, Giants 22, Dec. 27, 1997 — Vikings overcome 19-3 halftime lead, score 10 points in last 1:30 to win wild card playoff

 49ers 44, Giants 3, Jan. 15, 1994 — 49ers hand Giants the worst playoff loss in their history in divisional round romp

Cowboys 16, Giants 13, OT, Jan. 2, 1993 — Emmitt Smit  runs for 168 yards as Cowboys beat Giants to clinch NFC East

Rams 19, Giants 13, OT, Jan. 7, 1990 — Jim Everett throws touchdown to Flipper Anderson in overtime as Ram win divisional playoff

Jets 27, Giants 21, Dec. 18, 1988 — With a playoff berth on the line, crosstown rival Jets rally to beat Giants in final minutes

Bears 21, Giants 0, Jan. 5, 1986 — Chicago stops New York’s playoff run with shutout victory at windy Soldier Field

Eagles 19, Giants 17, Nov. 19, 1978 — In “The Miracle at the Meadowlands,” Eagles Herb Edwards returns fumble for TD win as Giants fail to run out clock

Rams 31, Giants 3, Dec. 20, 1970 — Rams knock Giants out of playoff spot with rout in season finale at Yankee Stadium

Jets 37, Giants 14, Aug. 17, 1969 — It was only a pre-season game, but with the win the Super Bowl champion Jets legitimized themselves in New York

Redskins 72, Giants 41, Nov. 27, 1966 — Giants allow NFL record 72 points to Redskins, who add insult to injury with late field goal

Bears 14, Giants 10, Dec, 29, 1963 — Bears capitalize on five Y.A. Tittle interceptions to beat Giants for NFL title at Wrigley Field, right

Packers 16, Giants 7, Dec. 30, 1962 — Green Bay wins battle as Giants lose second of three consecutive championship games

Colts 23, Giants 17, OT, Dec. 28, 1958 — In “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” Giants lose to Colts in only overtime championship game in NFL history,

Browns 8, Giants 3, Dec. 17, 1950 — After beating Cleveland twice in regular season, Giants lose to Browns in playoff for conference title

Bears 24, Giants 14, Dec. 15, 1946 — Faced with gambling allegations on the eve of the title game, Giants lose to Bears at the Polo Grounds

Bears 56, Giants 7, Nov. 14, 1943 — Chicago quarterback Sid Luckman establishes NFL record with seven touchdown passes

Bears 23, Giants 21, Dec. 17, 1933 — Bears tally a late touchdown on trick play to win first NFL championship game