Smashmouth Style Has Giants Foes on the Run

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

Lords Of The Ringless: Running Back Edition

Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson. The King and the Jet. Ernie Nevers and Jim Thorpe and even OJ. Gale Sayers

What a stable of running backs. And they all have one thing in common — they never won a championship.

Some, like Buffalo’s Thurman Thomas got close. Thomas was in four straight Super Bowls — and the Bills lost em all..

Tiki Barber made a Super Bowl once and the Giants lost. The year after he retired, the G-men won the Super Bowl.

This Lords of the Ringless list features the best running backs never to win a Super Bowl, NFL or AFL championship.

Tons of talent here, but light on the jewelry.

 1. Barry Sanders (1989-98) 10 years with Lions; 3rd all-time leading rusher with 15,269 yards; averaged 5.0 yards per carry; four-time NFL rushing leader, 99 rushing TDs, 1997 MVP. 

2. Eric Dickerson (1983-93) 11-year career, primarily with  Rams, Colts: 13,259 yards, 6th all-time; led NFL in rushing in 1983, 84, 86, 88;  rushed for 96 TDs; 5 times first team All-Pro.

3. Joe Perry (1948-63) The Jet, spotted playing service football by pro scouts; played  with 49ers, Colts; 1954 MVP, first to gain over 1,000 yards two straight years,  9,273 yards rushing, 24th all-time.

4. Curtis Martin (1995-2005) 3 years with Patriots, 8 years with Jets; 14,101 yards, 4th all-time leading rusher; at least 1,000 yards in each of first 10 years; 90 TDs; led NFL in rushing in 2004.

5. Gale Sayers (1965-71) Spent 7-year career with Bears; led NFL in rushing in 1966, 69; scored rookie record 22 TDs in 1965; All-NFL 5 straight years; lifetime  kickoff return leader, 30.6 yards.

6. Thurman Thomas  Buffalo (1988-2000) Played in four straight Super Bowls with Bills; led NFL in yards from scrimmage 4 straight years, 1989-92, 12,074 yards, 12th all-time, 5-time Pro Bowler.

7. Ernie Nevers (1926-31) 1925 Rose Bowl hero with Stanford, played with Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals; his 40 points in one game in 1929 still stand as NFL record; All-NFL all five seasons.

8.  O.J. Simpson (1969-79) Played with Bills, 49ers; 16th all-time leading rusher with 11, 236 yards; first to reach 2,000 yards rushing (2,003) in 1973, won MVP; won 4 rushing titles in five years, 1972-76.

9.  Tiki Barber (1997-2006) At 10,449 yards, he’s Giants all-time leading rusher, 21st all-time with 10,449 yards; played and lost in Super Bowl XXXV; led NFL in yards from scrimmage 2004, 05.

10, Jim Thorpe (1915-28) 1912 Olympic decathlon champion; first big name athlete to play professional football, signing with Canton Bulldogs in 1915; first president of NFL, 1920.


Earl Campbell (1978-85) Played with Oilers and  Saints; led league in rushing first three seasons, 9,407 career rushing yards, 25th all-time; NFL MVP in 1978-79; 5- time Pro Bowler and 3 times All-Pro.

Hugh McElhenny (1952-53) The King, played majority of career with 49ers; scored 40-yard TD on first pro play; was Rookie of the Year in 1952; played Six Pro Bowls; rushed for 5,281 yards, right

Ollie Matson (1952-66) Ran for 4 different teams; No. 1 draft pick 1952; All-NFL 4 years, 1954-57; elected to 6 Pro Bowl games; 5173 yards rushing; 9 TDs on punt, kickoff returns.

Eddie George (1996-2004) Played primarily for Oilers; 10,441 yards, 22nd all-time; led NFL in rushing attempts, touches in 2003; scored 5 playoff TDs; played in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Bill Dudley (1942-53) Played with Steelers, Lions and Redskins; led league in rushing in 1942;  won rare triple crown in 1946 winning rushing, interception and punt return titles, was MVP that year.

Previous portrayals of Lords Of The Ringless include:.

Quarterback Edition

Baseball Edition

Hoops Edition

Quick Hitters….Observations of a Sportslifer

You know that motion Roger Clemens used when he threw the piece of shattered bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series. Is that the same motion he uses to throw people under the bus?

And it’s getting pretty crowded under that bus by the way — Debbie Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian McNamee, the Hendricks brothers.

We’re taking a readers survey — who’s telling the truth, Andy or Roger? Be honest now.

Speaking of the truth, we can accuse Andy Pettitte of late honesty. If he had been a bit more forthcoming, a bit earlier, the Yanks may have had Johan Santana in their rotation.

If you’re counting, 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the Cubs last World Series title.

One of the enduring moments of the NFL playoffs was Eli Manning running around the frozen field at Lambeau, looking for someone to hug. Shades of Jim Valvano, 1983.

Was Tiki Barber that much of a distraction with the Giants? Maybe it’s more than mere coincidence that there are two “i’s” in Tiki and no “i’s” in team.

Been to any good Knicks games lately? Oops, that’s an oxymoron — good Knicks.

If the Knicks ever manage to win two in a row, Jimmy Dolan will be looking to re-up Isiah. Three straight and they’re talking playoffs at the Garden.

I like the excitement of the NHL shootout, but it’s kinda like staging a home run derby if the game is tied after 10 innings.