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.


G-Men Have Been Giant Killers Before

Plaxico Burress and the Giants ruined the Patriots’ unbeaten season in Super Bowl XLII.
Been there, done that. Just ask the New York Giants.

As they get ready for the unbeaten Packers on Sunday, the struggling G-Men can take solace in their Giant killer pedigree.

At least three times in their long and glorious history the Giants have taken out unbeaten opponents — twice in championship games.

As recently as four seasons ago, the Giants spoiled the undefeated dreams of the New England Patriots in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

The Giants, a number five seed and 12-point underdog, rallied in the final minutes to upend previously unbeaten (18-0) New England and alter the course of NFL history. Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with just 35 seconds remaining to give New York the monumental 17-14 win.

The Giants, who lost six games during the regular season, avenged a 38-35 loss to the Patriots in the final game of the regular season.

Sneakers Game
Nearly 75 years earlier, in December of 1934, the Chicago Bears waltzed into Manhattan with a 13-0 record, a record-setting offense, and high hopes for an unbeaten season and an NFL championship.

The Bears took an early lead over the 8-5 Giants in the second NFL Championship game ever played. But the Giants then made a surprise move as reported by the New York Times, coming out in the second half “with basketball shoes replacing the cleated football shoes. The solidly frozen ground made cleats useless, and the basketball shoes made all the difference.”

Trailing 13-3, the Giants rallied for four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and an improbable 30-13 win in a contest, shown at right, that became known in NFL lore as the “Sneakers Game.”

In December of 1998, the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, led by John Elway, took a 13-0 record into a December game against the Giants at the Meadowlands.

Denver went up 16-13 in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard touchdown run by Terrell Davis. But the Giants, then 5-8, put together a finishing drive. With just 48 seconds left in the game, New York scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kent Graham to Amani Toomer for a shocking 20-16 win.

Can history repeat itself?

Extra Points: The Giants also had a chance to knock off the only undefeated team in NFL history, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Dolphins (12-0) came into Yankee Stadium and beat the Giants 23-13 on the strength of  three Gary Yepremian field goals. Miami went on to defeat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII and finish a perfect 17-0.


1927 New York Giants — Forgotten Champs

The 1927 New York Yankees are considered one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

Yet New York had another championship team that year, 84 years ago, a team long since forgotten.

That team was the New York Giants, who in just their third year in the fledgling National Football League won their first title.

The Giants finished 11-1-1 in the 12-team league and were crowned NFL champions in a time before playoff systems were used. The Giants, who called the Polo Grounds home, shut out 10 opponents that year. They allowed just three touchdowns all season and wound up outscoring the opposition 197-20.

NFL, 1927
Those opponents included both the second place Green Bay Packers (7-2-1) and third place Chicago Bears (9-3-2). The Cleveland Bulldogs, who finished fourth (8-4-2), put the only two blemishes on the Giants record, beating New York 6-0 after playing the Giants to a scoreless tie earlier in the season.

The remaining NFL teams in 1927 were the Providence Steam Roller, New York Yankees, Frankford Yellow Jackets, Pottsville Maroons, Chicago Cardinals, Dayton Triangles, Duluth Eskimos and Buffalo Bisons, who dropped out of the league after five straight losses to start the season.

The Giants were led by two Hall of Fame linemen, tackles Steve Owen, shown right, and Cal Hubbard, who played both offense and defense. Owen went on to coach the Giants for 24 seasons beginning in 1930, and won two championships of his own, in 1933 and 1938.

Hubbard is the only man to be voted into both the Baseball and Football Hall of Fame. Playing alongside Steve Owen, Hubbard was a rookie on the 1927 Giants, but a year later requested a trade to Green Bay, which won the NFL championship in his first three years beginning in 1929. He finished his football career in 1936 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a franchise that was to become the Steelers.

Baseball Umpire
Hubbard later became an umpire in the American League from 1936 to 1951. Immediately recognized as one of the game’s greatest officials, he was eventually elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1927 Giants were led offensively by fullback Jack McBride, who scored 57 points, with six touchdowns, two field goals, and 15 extra points. Tailback Hinkey Haines and wingback Mule Wilson each scored six TDs.

The Giants were coached by coached Earl Potteiger, who joints the ranks of Steve Owen (2), Bill Parcells (2), Jim Lee Howell and Tom Coughlin as the only men to  coach the Giants to championships. Potteiger coached the Giants again in 1928, finished 4-7-2, and was dismissed.

Potteiger also played and managed minor league baseball. And apparently there are no known photos of William Earl Potteiger….but we do have his autograph.

Footnote: While the Giants were winning their 1927 championship, the New York Rangers were beginning just their second season in the National Hockey League. The following April, the Rangers beat the Montreal Maroons 3-2 to win Stanley Cup, giving New York three professional championships in less than six months.


Steelers Are Super, But Packers Are NFL’s Best

Originally posted on February 2, 2009 by Sportslifer

SportsLifer Rewind: I posted this blog two years ago, after the Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl by beating the Arizona Cardinals. Who knew that Super Bowl XLV would pit the Steelers against the Packers.

Not to rain on Pittsburgh’s parade (hey, we all love a parade), but to claim the Steelers are the best team in NFL history is a bit over the top.

Granted, the Steelers have now win six Super Bowls, more than any other franchise — the Cowboys and the 49ers have each won five. So if you want to give Pittsburgh the nod as the best team in the Super Bowl era, well who’s to argue. No disputing the fact that they are a model franchise, classy and competitive.

DSCN2434 But the best all-time? Not. That’s like claiming the team that has won the most World Series since baseball adopted its playoff format in 1969 is the best ever. (That team happens to be the Yankees with six (now seven) championships, but they won 20 more before 1969).

The Steelers were formed in 1933, and were NFL doormats for more than 40 years, never winning so much as a conference championship. Five years after shifting to the AFC Central in 1970, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl.

You can’t ignore history.

Packers Have Most Titles
So who is the best? Counting three Super Bowls, the Green Bay Packers have won 12 NFL, including the first two Super Bowls, since the formation of the NFL in 1920, the  Packers have actually won 12 titles.

Green Bay is the only NFL team to win three straight championships (1929-31) and (1965-67), the latter including the first two Super Bowls.

The Chicago Bears also supersede the Steelers with nine NFL titles, including Super Bowl XX. And the New York Giants have seven championships, including three Super Bowls.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers rank behind the Steelers with five Super Bowl wins apiece

Another team that’s sometimes forgotten in the haze of football history is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns won four straight championships in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) before that league was disbanded in 1950. The Browns then proceeded to make six straight appearances in the NFL championship game, winning in 1950, 1954 and 1955.

Cleveland won another championship in 1964, but has never been to the Super Bowl.

Cleaning out the Notebook
Among the dozen or more “experts” in the booth for Super Bowl XLIII, it’s hard to believe NBC would include Matt Millen. Yes, the same Matt Millen, the general manager who set the Detroit Lions back years. Heck, I wouldn’t trust this guy to pick my fantasy football team.

Jennifer Hudson’s emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was moving, best since Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV.

DSCN2429 Lots of fans, even football fanatics, were looking forward to the halftime show as much as the game. Bruce Springsteen didn’t disappoint. He never does. That’s why he’s the Boss.

Finally, why didn’t the refs review Kurt Warner’s last play? Fumble or incomplete pass? Close call. But at the very least the play deserved review.

According to the NFL head of officials, the play was reviewed and upheld. For what, 20 seconds?

Rules state that if Warner’s arm is moving in a forward motion with the ball still in his hand when it comes out, the play should be ruled an incomplete pass, not a fumble.

Oh, and one more thing.

After the play, the Steelers were called for a personal foul, so if the play had been reversed, and with the 15-yard penalty yardage marked off, the Cardinals would have had the ball on the Pittsburgh 30 with about seven seconds remaining.

Certainly time enough for a miracle.


Giant Meltdown as Bad as It Gets

Giants fans can’t cope with their team’s miserable play down the stretch.

Move over, choke artists. Teams like the 1964 Phillies, 1978 Red Sox and 2004 Yankees, or the 1978 Redskins and 1993 Dolphins. Golfers like Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters and Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open. You’ve got company.

The monumental collapse of the New York Giants rivals all those and more. Unless the Giants beat the Redskins, get help and somehow make the playoffs, it will go down as the greatest late-season meltdown in NFL history.

How historic was the Giants collapse? New York’s defense gave up 73 points in a little over a full game, between the 28-point, fourth quarter Meadowlands meltdown, including DeSean Jackson’s game-ending punt return, pictured below, against the Eagles and the last score in the 45-17 disaster at Green Bay.

The NFL record for most points in a game occurred in the 1940 championship game, when the Chicago Bears crushed the Washington Redskins, 73-0. Do the math — the Giants gave up 73 points in their collapse — all in just a little more than four quarters. 64 minutes and eight seconds to be exact. That’s incredible.

How monumental was the Giants fall? The Giants were on the verge of wrapping up a  two seed and first round bye before it all fell down. It’s tough to find a more horrible collapse in NFL history.

Other NFL Collapses
The 1978 Redskins began the season with six straight wins, and ended with five consecutive losses to finish 8-8. That same year, the first Miracle at the Meadowlands occurred, a portent of things to come in Giants- Eagles games..

The 1993 Dolphins had a big fall. On Thanksgiving Day that year, Miami defeated the Dallas Cowboys on the Leon Lett play to improve to 9-2. But they lost their last five games and missed the playoffs.

The 2003 Vikings had a potent offense led by Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. They started the season 6-0, but then when into a tailspin and lost seven of their 10 games. With a chance to salvage their season in the final game, they gave up a late touchdown and lost to the Arizona Cardinals, 18-17.

Back in the days before the Super Bowl, when there were no playoffs, just a championship game between division champions, there were some memorable collapses.

In 1957,  the 49ers, playing the Detroit Lions for the Western Conference title,  blew a 27-7 third quarter lead at Kezar Stadium (now known as Bob St. Clair Field in San Francisco and lost to the Detroit Lions, 31-27. The Lions went on to beat the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, the following week for the NFL Championship. They haven’t won one since.

In 1958, the Cleveland Browns, needing only a win or a tie, lost to the Giants,13-10, on Pat Summerall’s late field goal in the swirling Yankee Stadium snow. That forced an Eastern Division playoff the following week, which the Giants won 10-0. The Giants went on to lose the NFL Championship to the Baltimore Colts 23-17 in overtime in what is called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Unless the Giants somehow rebound to get into the playoffs, their collapse will be the one that sets the standard for all others.

Misery loves company.


It Doesn’t Get Any Worse Than This

A punt return by Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson on the final play of the game put the capper on an thinkable collapse by the New York Giants.

It’s hard to imagine a more crushing loss than the one the Giants suffered on Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles when they blow a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. New York lost on a 65-yard punt return on the final play of the game — the first time in NFL history a game has ended on a punt return for a touchdown.

This qualifies as the worst loss in the 85-year history of the franchise. Not only did they blow a huge lead to a division rival at home, they lost a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East and an almost certain playoff spot.

It was an epic collapse by a team that was once considered a Super Bowl contender. Now the Giants, coming off a stunning loss, will have to fight just to make the playoffs.

Already the vultures are circling. There are reports that Bill Cowher is ready to return to coaching, with his sights set on the Giants and Tom Coughlin.

“I’ve never been around anything like this in my life,” said Coughlin after the Meadowlands meltdown. “It’s about as empty as you get to feel in this business.”

The Giants have had some bad losses over the years, but the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” is the worst. It beats out monumental playoff collapses against the 49ers and Vikings, and the original “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, also against the Eagles, when the Giants failed to take a knee and end the game.

Those playoff losses were brutal, and of course there’s no tomorrow after a playoff loss. And that loss to the Eagles in the original “Miracle” game was devastating yes, but remember the Giants were a terrible team then, mired in an 18-year playoff drought.

But yesterday was a total, unthinkable team collapse and the worst loss in New York Football Giants history.

Giant Bummers: 10 Worst Losses in Big Blue History

Eagles 38, Giants 31, Dec. 19, 2010 — Eagles rally from a 31-10 deficit in the fourth quarter and win the game on a punt return by DeSean Jackson.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

For extra measure, a few more crushing defeats:

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

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

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

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


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.