Friday, January 4, 2019

1995 Giants vs Cardinals

Week 6

The Setup


16 games.  That’s all that there is in an NFL season.  Baseball has 162 games.  The NBA season lasts 82 games.  The NHL is also 82 games.  With such a long stretch of games, the calendar stretches across several months.  Baseball starts in spring training in February and the World Series final game is usually played end of October and even into early November.  The NBA and NHL both start their seasons in October and end in June.  The NFL?  Training camp is late July, 4 preseason games in August and the regular season runs from September to December.  Playoffs are January.  Super Bowl in early February.  For a team to get off to a slow start in baseball, say 25% of their games, that’s about 40 games to knock the rust off.  In the NFL, if you get off to a slow start, say 0-4 or 0-5, you are dead.  We see it every year when a team starts 0-2 and how the % of teams who make the playoffs after an 0-3 start is so minimal.  When your team gets off to an 0-4, 0-5, or 0-6 start, the season is essentially no longer fun.  It’s a torturous slog knowing that your team is not a factor and is playing out the string for the remaining 60% of the season.

As NY Giants fans, times have been particularly tough after the 2012 season, when the Giants were defending Super Bowl champions.  That Giants team started 6-2.  Went into San Francisco and blew out the eventual NFC Super Bowl representative 49ers.  And then Sandy hit and the Giants ran out of gas, finishing the year at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.

In the seasons since, look at the Giants starts in their first 6 games

2013- 0-6
2014- 3-3 (started 0-2)
2015- 3-3 (started 0-2)
2016- 3-3 (started 2-0)
2017- 1-5 (started 0-5)
2018- 1-5 (started 0-2)

Awful.  Not much to spring board off of.  And when you get starts like this, where in the case of the 2013, 2017 and 2018 seasons, they were pretty much over before the baseball playoffs even started.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the 2016 season when the Giants started 2-0 led to their finishing with an 11-5 record and make the playoffs (only to get quickly bounced by Green Bay).  Also not surprisingly, in looking at this stretch, it’s easy to see what was the fluke and what was the trend. 

As a fan, when this stuff happens, you immediately invoke the “T” word.  Tank.  In a sport like the NBA, with the combination of the salary cap and the fact that there are only 12 men on a team and really 8 or 9 actually play, the process of tanking seasons to build up cap space and better shot at a draft pick has become the regular way that business is done.  But there is one difference with the NBA draft.  It’s a lottery.  So the NBA knew that they didn’t want teams to go into complete tank mode to get a player (think a LeBron James or Shaq type transformative super star).  So the NBA put in a weighted lottery to try to at least make it less attractive to teams who want to tank.  They also made it an event during the playoffs for the non-playoff teams.  Good marketing.

The NFL has no such system.  So if you finish with the worst record, you get the top pick.  However, with a 53 man roster, plus practice squad, etc, and just the way the game is played with the reality of injuries, weather, coaching, etc, it’s very hard for one guy to come in to change a franchise in a blink.  So the risk of tanking is mitigated a bit.  Not to mention in the NFL, when a team tanks, the ownership usually doesn’t look the other way with the front office and coaches and players and accepts it.  You finish with a 2-14 record and get the top pick, while that might make fans feel good to build back up the team, generally speaking, those coaches, front office personnel and players end up out of work.  So they will actually try to win. 

As a fan however, we root for the uniform.  So when a situation arises where your team is dead in the water before Columbus Day (ie, the majority of the last 6 years for Giants fans, you have 3 things to look forward to)

1- Lose as many games as possible to tank for better draft position.  Not necessarily root for losses, but understand that losses help in the larger scheme
2- Win games to restore some pride in the franchise as well as play a spoiler to take someone else’s team down with you
3- Look at this as an opportunity to see younger players develop and let them make their mistakes with less pressure and expect dividends in the future.

One great example for the Giants for point 3 is their kicker, Aldrick Rosas.  The Giants have had a semi rich history of keeping older kickers on their roster and either releasing or trading off younger kickers who they could develop and seeing them flourish elsewhere.  As a Yankee fan, we all know the litany of George Steinbrenner bad trades in the 1980s and giving up great prospects (Jay Buhner, Doug Drabek, Fred McGriff, etc).  Well, the Giants have had their own list of kickers who went elsewhere and established a nice career which might have been better for the Giants if they just kept them.  Matt Stover, Olindo Mare, Todd Peterson, Matt Bryant, Brandon McManus and Chris Boswell.  Going into the 2017 season, the Giants had let veteran Robbie Gould leave via free agency and signed a young kicker who had a great leg in Aldrick Rosas.  The Giants talked up his talent and power.  He won the kicking job in the preseason in 2017, besting veteran Mike Nugent thanks to a game winning 48 yarder to beat the Patriots in New England in the pre-season.  The Giants crashed and burned in 2017, going 3-13 and saw Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese get fired.  Dave Gettelman came in and cleaned house, pushing out most of Reese’s signings.  And in looking at the kicker, Rosas really wasn’t very good in his rookie year.  He was 18 of 25 in field goals, a weak 72% accuracy.  He was 20 of 23 in extra points.  But the Giants stuck with him and he responded in 2018 with an amazing season, going 32 of 33 in field goals (his only miss coming on a 52 yarder vs. the Eagles on a Thursday game when he was playing with a bruised quad).  He set a Giants record with a 57 yarder vs. the Bears in wet conditions, a game in which he kicked the game winner in OT vs. the eventual NFC Central champions and was named NFC Special Teams Player of the week.  Rosas was given a well deserved honor of making the Pro Bowl.  The point being, the Giants let him develop. 

Now, if you are 0-6 and know the next 10 games are not going to be fun, either by tolerating losses because it helps with your draft pick, which in turn makes the wins seem meaningless, perhaps the better thing to focus on is player development for the new core.

1995 was a season that opened many eyes around the Giants, and not in a good way.  Few remember, the Giants were a trendy pick in 1995.  In Reeves first year in 1993, the Giants went 11-5, barely missed out on the top seed after the OT loss to Dallas, won a playoff game and then were dominated in San Francisco.  It was the last game for Simms and LT.  It was the real end of the Parcells’ era with the Reeves Bronco flair.  In 1994, it was a transition with Dave Brown at QB.  And that was a rollercoaster season, going 3-0, losing the next 7 to stand at 3-7, and then ripping off 6 wins to finish 9-7 and just miss the playoffs.  

At this point in 1995, you have to remember, the Cowboys had won the NFC East the previous 3 seasons.  They won the Super Bowl in 1992 and 1993 and Jimmy Johnson quit after the 1993 season after a power/ego struggle with Jerry Jones and put Barry Switzer in as head coach.  The 49ers broke pretty much every salary cap rule in 1994 to win the Super Bowl, knocking the Cowboys out in the NFC Title game.  So fans and media, who never highly regarded Switzer compared to Johnson, thought the Cowboys were weakening.  The Niners had passed them.  Meanwhile, in the NFC East, the Giants seemed to be surging.  They had come out of their Simms transition to Dave Brown and many felt the 6 game winning streak was real.  The Giants signed Herschel Walker as a free agent to add a weapon with Rodney Hampton.  And to be sure, the NFL schedule makers thought so, pitting the Cowboys vs. the Giants in the Monday Night season opener, which back in 1995 was still a big deal.

The Giants were to honor Phil Simms by retiring his #11, and had a ceremony in which he lobbed a long pass to Lawrence Taylor who caught it (even though he was dressed nice and as LT himself reported, was pretty drunk).  The fans were in full throat, and as for myself, I drove down from Boston with my Boston College roommates to see it for myself in person.  On the Cowboys first possession, Emmitt Smith ripped off a 60 yard TD run up the gut.  Took off his helmet to taunt the crowd.  And the Cowboys never looked back.  The final score was 35-0 and it wasn’t that close.  The Cowboys doubled the Giants in yards gained.  Emmitt himself scored 4 TDs total.  The Giants never recovered from that.  They would start out 1-4, with losses to the Cowboys, Packers, and Niners.  Essentially the 3 top teams in the NFC so the Giants knew where they stood.  The season was dead and we didn’t know it at the time, but it also signals the eventual end of Dan Reeves as head coach.

So, with this poor start, what did we as fans have to look forward to.  Well, for one thing, we hoped for continued development by Dave Brown (which didn’t happen).  We hoped to hitch our sails further on a young first round RB in Tyrone Wheatley as Rodney Hampton logged more and more carries (which also didn’t really happen due to injuries).  The offense completely bogged down.

But there was a group in 1995 who would play a crucial role in the Giants eventually turning things around in 1997 with an NFC East Championship and set the core for their 2000 Super Bowl run.  That would be their young defense.  As noted earlier, the Parcells/Belichick defense had been long gone after the 1993 season.  It was time for a new group to rise up.  And while the Giants went for some veteran leaders like Michael Brooks to help provide stability, it really was on the new defensive players to step up.  And in 1995, the Giants had several guys who would learn on the field and help grow into a future dominant unit.  To name a few, Michael Strahan, Keith Hamilton, Thomas Randolph, Jason Sehorn (who was a real late bloomer, and started his own ascension in 1996), and Tito Wooten.

But there was another guy who was on the Giants’ defense that was first thought of as nothing more than a special teamer and nickel linebacker.  Jessie Armstead.  Armstead was an 8th round pick out of the Miami Hurricane powerhouse.  Armstead typified the U at the time.  Loud, brash, fast and really good.  Armstead slipped in the draft because he was undersized and also coming off an ACL injury.  The Giants used him in 1993 as a gunner on the punt coverage team, and as a cover linebacker.  In 1994, his role was pretty much the same.  In 1995, the Giants signed Mike Croel, the former Bronco first round pick and a pass rusher.  He was going to take over the role of pass rushing outside linebacker.  Armstead had a fellow young LB teammate in Marcus Buckley who the Giants rated higher than him too.  But as 1995 fell apart, the Giants started to get Armstead on the field more.  He needed to take advantage of his opportunity and show he could make plays.  

This game pitted another disappointing team, the Arizona Cardinals.  The Cardinals were starting to build a decent team under former Redskins’ assistant Joe Bugel, but fired him after the 1993 season.  They brought in former Bears defensive coordinator and Eagles head man Buddy Ryan, fresh off his stint in Houston where he was last seen punching Kevin Gillbride and watching an ancient Joe Montana carve up his defense in the playoffs vs the Kansas City Chiefs.  Buddy promised a Super Bowl.  He promised domination.  He brought in many of his old Eagle players.  Buddy, as usual, was full of himself and full of crap.  In 1994, the Cardinals finished 8-8.  Going into this game, they also started 1-4.  It was clear the loser of this game was really going to see their season go down in flames.  But the reality for both teams was their seasons were already lost.  And one player took this chance to show he was more than a role player.

 The Game Highlights

Brad Daluiso came on to kickoff and was fielded in the end zone by Ryan Terry for a touchback.  Starting at the 20, 15 year veteran Dave Krieg was in at QB led the Cardinals out on to the field.  First down, Krieg back, with time, dumped it off to Garrison Hearst on a check down in the right flat at the 15, and Hearst with no one around him ran up the sidelines to the 33, where he was chased out of bounds by Corey Miller.  First down, the ball went to Hearst where he first dodged Michael Brooks in the backfield, but cut right into Michael Strahan, who was playing at right defensive end at this time, not his customary left DE, and Strahan hit him down after a 1 yard gain.  2nd and 9, Krieg back, with time and slung a pass to Rob Moore, the former Jet #1 supplemental pick out of Syracuse, at the 39, where he was hit down by Brooks.  A flag came down after the catch for a facemask on Brooks as he fell over the top of Moore, and the refs were nice giving him a 5 yard instead of 15 yard, as it probably could have been a personal foul.  Either way, it was a first down at the 43 yard line, and what was an inside run by Hearst, but he bounced to the outside and was pushed out of bounds by Thomas Randolph at the 50 yard line for a nice gain of 6 yards.  2nd and 4, the ball went to fullback Larry Centers over the middle for a 3 yard gain, hit down by Keith Hamilton and Brooks.  3rd and 1, a draw to Hearst, who just avoided Hamilton barging into the backfield, and took it up the gut out to the 44, hit down by Robert Harris and Jesse Campbell, but good for another first down.  Krieg back, again no pass rush, and swung a pass out to Hearst in the flat at the 48 yard line, and Hearst got out to the 42 yard line, hit down by Phillippi Sparks, but another flag came flying, and again was on the Giants for a defensive hold on Corey Miller who grabbed Moore, which added 5 more yards and an automatic first down.  Now at the Giants’ 40, a draw to Centers up the middle went for a couple of yards, hit down by Harris.  2nd and 8 came a very questionable call



The Giants needed to generate some pressure on Krieg, so they came on a blitz, with former Bronco LB Mike Croel coming free to nail former Seahawk Krieg as he threw the ball.  Downfield, Randolph had good coverage on the bigger WR in Moore and appeared to knock the pass loose at the 4, but a penalty was thrown on Randolph, even though Vencie Glenn was protesting.  On the play, Moore got hurt, grabbing his ankle.  In the end it was a 30 yard penalty but Moore was helped off.  The ball was placed at the 11 yard line, and the Cards started with a play fake and quick slant to Frankie Sanders right at the goal line, the ball was off his hands but Sparks grabbed him too early and drew yet another penalty on the Giants, for a hold, and a 5 yard penalty (not a pass interference).  First and goal at the 5 as the Giants gave 42 yards in penalties on the drive, and Hearst took the handoff but was hit in the backfield by Miller and spun down by Campbell at the 5.  2nd and goal, a play action, with Strahan appearing to be held and preventing a sack, forced a high pass from Krieg who doinked the pass off the goal post.  3rd and goal, Krieg again back, and tried to hit Anthony Edwards in the back of the end zone, but the ball sailed out of bounds as Krieg felt Strahan coming at him.  Greg Davis would boot through a 23 yarder to take a 3-0 lead with 9:29 to go in the first quarter.

Davis’ kickoff would go to Omar Douglas who bobbled it at the 7 yard line, picked it up and took it back up the middle to the 22 yard line, diving under the tackle from Garth Jax.  Dave Brown led the Giants offense out on the field and gave the ball to Tyrone Wheatley up the middle where he was met by 3 Cardinals, led by Michael Bankston, for a very short gain.  2nd and 10, Wheatley again on a sprint draw up the middle for 3 yards, hit by Chadrick Brown.  So now 3rd and 7, with Brown in the gun, and with time to throw as Buddy Ryan surprisingly didn’t blitz, was able to hit Chris Calloway over the middle and wide open at the 31, and Calloway took the ball all the way to the 40 where he was tracked down by Jamir Miller.  First down, with Aaron Pierce in motion, Brown faked a pitch to Wheatley and with a little waggle play, was able to hit Howard Cross who was wide open at the 43, and the big TE got up a head of steam and rumbled all the way to the Cardinals’ 39 where he was hit down by Miller, but good for a 27 yard gain.  First down again, and Brown again back, with time and no one open, he would take off and scramble out to the 20 yard line for a 14 yard gain, and out of bounds, but good for another first down.  Wheatley would take the handoff up the gut, and gained about 4 yards, hit down by former Eagle Seth Joyner.  Wheatley got the ball again on 2nd down but ran right into the Cards’ DL and got a 1 yard gain. 


3rd and 4, Cards came on an all out blitz and Brown got hit by Keith McCants and just got the ball off and thrown incomplete in the general direction of Mike Sherrard, however as the Cardinals’ defense was looking to be so aggressive, they came offsides with safety Lorenzo Lynch getting into the neutral zone.  The result was a first down and goal at the 10, and with a run blitz up the gut by the Cardinals’ Terry Irvin, Herschel Walker picked it up and stonewalled him, as the ball went to Wheatley, who bounced off that block and got out to the 8, before he was taken down by Terry Hoage.  2nd and goal at the 8, Brown would drop back and hit Walker over the middle at the 6 where he was hit immediately by Eric Hill.  3rd and goal at the 6, and Brown would call at time out with the play clock running down and 3:37 to go in the first quarter. 


Brown would come back out in the shotgun, flanked by Walker and rookie fullback Charles Way, who were both in the game to pick up what they expected to be a blitz.  And sure enough, Buddy Ryan would oblige and send the blitz, with Hoage coming up the middle and picked up by Walker, and with the corner also coming, Brown made the proper hot read and drilled a pass into Sherrard on an in cut at the goal line where it was snagged for a TD, as he beat CB Tito Paul.  Daluiso’s extra point was good to make the score 7-3 on a 10 play, 78 yard drive which saw Dave Brown (yes, that Dave Brown) go 4-4 for 49 yards in addition to his scramble.

Daluiso’s kickoff was short, taken at the 6 by Terry and was hit down by Tito Wooten at the 24.  First down, and the Cards begin with a false start on tackle Earnest Dye who came out of his stance early with Strahan facing him.  1st and 15, Krieg would audible to a run, as Hearst shifted over to his right and took the handoff and turned the corner all the way out to the 32 yard line, hit down by Sparks.  On 2nd and 3, Brooks would actually shout out before the snap to watch the lead draw, and sure enough, the ball went to Center on a lead draw and he got out to the 33, hit down by Ray Agnew.  3rd and 1, Brooks tried to time the snap and ended up jumping offsides as the veteran Krieg changed the snap count to catch him, and gave the Cards a first down.  But Krieg would end up costing his team the next play


It was said for many years when he was the starting QB in Seattle, that Krieg had small hands and was a fumbler.  In this case, a play action pass didn’t really slow the rush, but Krieg tried a pump fake as Strahan and Agnew pushed the pocket back into him.  As Krieg tried to bring the ball back, he hung the ball far away from his body and he was hit by Strahan and had it slip out of his hands and the fumble was recovered by Hamilton at the 31 yard line.  

The Giants first play with great field position was a handoff to Wheatley who got the ball to the 26 yard line, hit down by Hill.  Rodney Hampton would come out for the first time, playing with a broken bone in his hand, but he was nothing more than a decoy as Brown threw a quick out to Sherrard who caught it at the 18 where he was blasted out of bounds.  First down, Hampton with his broken hand took the carry up the gut, bounced off a few tacklers and got down to the 14, taken down by another former Eagle, Clyde Simmons on the final play of the first quarter.  2nd and 7 to start the 2nd quarter and Hampton took a draw up the middle where he again ran into a bunch of Cardinals and was taken down at the 11.  On 3rd and 5, the Cardinals nearly screwed up a big play.


In the 1980s, the Buddy Ryan Eagles were a pain in the butt for the Giants.  They would get a bunch of crazy turnovers and do wacky laterals that would result in big gains and TDs.  But since they were gamblers, they would also make mistakes.  In this case, Matt Millen said it perfectly “that was stupid”.  Brown was back with a clean pocket and he dumped it off to his safety valve in Herschel.  But Bernard Wilson just tipped it and Walker had the ball bounce off his hands and into the air, where Seth Joyner was waiting for it to actually pick the ball off on Herschel’s back.  But before he could fully possess it, or so it seemed, Joyner instead of securing the ball and stopping a scoring chance, decided to attempt to lateral the ball back to his former Eagle teammate Hoage.  Hoage, not expecting it or ready, had it bonk off his facemask.  As the ball hit the ground, the Cardinals fell on it for a recovery.  Joyner would lose his mind and take his helmet off to argue when it was ruled incomplete (which at the time wasn’t a penalty, but in later years would become one..see Michael Westbrook on the Redskins).  The Cardinals yelled at the officials, who if you looked at the play today, it probably is not a pick since he didn’t have possession in order to lateral it.  But referee Gordon McCarter, decided to make up his own rules and called it an “illegal backward pass” but gave the Cardinals the ball.  A few things.  Joyner was pressing to make a play.  And he probably got away with one because it probably should have been incomplete.  He’s lucky he didn’t turn it over again, if it was a pick because where was Terry Hoage going to go with the ball inside his own 5.  And to put a bow on all of it, Gordon McCarter decided to go off script and decide that backwards laterals were suddenly illegal.  But the bigger picture was, Walker screwed up by not catching the ball, though you could argue the tip messed it up, and cost the Giants at least 3 points. 

So the Cardinals would begin at their own 4 yard line and would start with a nice run by Hearst, who avoided Brooks’ charge into the backfield, cut to his right and around Harris and made it all the way out to the 15, as he dove threw an arm tackle attempt by Sparks and fell forward for a first down.  On the play, Sparks hurt his arm and had to come out, replaced by Willie Beamon.  First down, Krieg dropped back for a 2 step quick slant, but Strahan read it and jumped and batted the ball straight into the air and back towards Krieg.  The veteran QB calmly lined it up and jumped and batted it down himself to be sure no further damage could happen.  2nd and 10, Giants would come on a blitz and the Cards would pick it up and Krieg would try a deep shot to Sanders, who was well covered by Randolph and the ball sailed incomplete.  3rd and 10, the Giants again came on a delayed blitz, this time from Wooten, but it took way too long to get home, and Krieg would throw to Edwards who had lots of cushion on a blown coverage at the 23 yard line and the WR would pick his way out to the 38 yard line, finally hit down by Glenn but a 22 yard gain.  First down, another draw to Hearst who again cut back to the right and found a lane around Marcus Buckley and squared his shoulders and hit into Beamon, who got a free ride for 5 yards out to the 50 yard line for yet another first down.  The next play was a poor one, a slow developing sweep to Centers, who waited for his blocks, but had Strahan waiting for him to take him down for a loss of a yard. 


2nd and 11, Krieg would set up a screen by running back and to his right, and would wait for Hearst and blockers to clear to the left from the overpursuing Giants’ defense, and swing it to Hearst at the 45, with only Campbell in the area but blockers waiting to take him on, and Hearst had lots of room to run getting all the way out to the 23 yard line, hit down by Glenn.  A pitch to Hearst, again running outside to the right, got around Harris and this time the Giants got him at the 20, with Campbell running him down.  2nd and 7, a draw up the gut to Centers went for decent yardage, hit down by Croel and Campbell.  3rd and 2, Harris jumped the snap count for an offsides and free play as Krieg took a deep shot that went out of the end zone. 


The Giants defense was now wobbly being on the field so long, and Krieg would drop straight back, and with a good pocket, he would sort of sling a sidearm pass (which is something he did over the course of his career as an undersized QB) to Sanders, who was left all alone at the 8 yard line and he got around a poor reaction from Campbell and took it into the end zone for a TD as the boo birds rained down on the Giants.  Davis’ extra point would give the Cards a 10-7 lead with 9:01 to go in the half after a 96 yard drive that took 10 plays and ate up 5:15 off the clock.

Davis’ kickoff would go to Herschel at the 3 and the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Georgia would get out to the 23.  Trailing now, Brown would start with a handoff to Wheatley who found no running room going to his left and he was hit down by Bankston for a 3 yard loss.  2nd and 13, Brown back, and with no one to throw to, he would check down to Wheatley at the 15.  But Wheatley turned his body to catch the ball, stumbled and got smacked by Joyner at the 17, for another loss.  3rd and 15, Brown in the gun, and again the Cardinals came on an all out blitz, which forced Brown’s semi rollout to hold up and threw a deep out towards Sherrard, but fell incomplete.  The Giants would get called for a hold on Greg Bishop who tackled Simmons , but didn’t matter and forced a punt with Mike Horan coming on.  Horan, the directional specialist shanked one, that bounced at the Giants’ 48, but fortunately for the Giants, it bounced forwards and out to the 41, covered by Beamon.

With good field position, the Cardinals would start with a run by Centers, also going to his right, out to the 45 yard line, hit down by Hamilton.  2nd and 6, the Cardinals would get flagged for a false start on Duval Love, the former Ram making it a 2nd and 11, with Krieg back, and with former Jet Coleman Rudolph hitting him as he threw, he got the pass off to Edwards, who sat down in the zone between 3 Giants and the ball was zipped in for a completion at the Giants’ 47 yard line, hit down by Jessie Armstead but good for a first down.  On the next play, Krieg would drop back, with plenty of time and had Sanders on an in cut in man to man, who beat Sparks (with a big bandage on his arm), but the ball was just high and incomplete.  2nd and 10, a draw to Hearst, this time running left, and around Rudolph who charged up field, and looked to have a window for a moment, but it closed with Armstead taking on a block and Glenn forcing Hearst to cut back and into Agnew at the 46.  3rd and 9, Krieg back, and with the pocket breaking down, he threw a pass to Brian Reeves at the 44, but he was hit down immediately by Armstead to stop the drive and force a punt.  This normally should be quiet, but all hell broke loose.


Arthur Marshall, the former Bronco, was back to return his first punt of the year.  Jeff Feagles, who in a few years would become a Giant and is currently a broadcaster for the team, was on to punt.  Feagles was a master of the coffin corner punt, and he really went for it on this punt, having it bounce inside the 5, and Reeves would jump to bat it back on to the field before it went out of the end zone for a touchback.  As a bunch of Cardinals gathered by the pylon to argue their case that it wasn’t a touchback, and since it is technically a live ball, Beamon scooped it up and started running, even though there were a bunch of Cardinal players who came off the bench on defense.  Beamon had a convoy ahead of him with only poor Feagles back to at least pretend to stop it, and for some reason tried to take on Corey Miller at the 13 yard line and got drilled and knocked down, maybe he tried to draw a penalty, who knows.  Anyway, Beamon brought it in, Gordon McCarter’s crew who didn’t blow the whistle had chaos all over the place.  And at the literal entire other end of the field, they called it a touchback.  Feagles would try to argue a bit but it wasn’t until coming back after the commercial did they decide that Reeves actually batted the ball out of bounds and off the official Nealy Dunn at the 1 yard line. 

So after all that, the Giants were really pinned back, with the crowd angry saw Dan Reeves actually cross the Cardinals up, faking the hand off, Brown dropped back with time and threw a deep pass to Sherrard out near the 40 yard line, but the future Hall of Fame corner Aeneas Williams would bat the ball down, avoiding a near pass interference.  But the reality is, Sherrard had Williams beat, and it was a poor throw by Brown, who if he lead Sherrard more, it might well have been a 99 yard TD.  But all it meant was 2nd and 10 at the 1, with Hampton in the end zone, and the Cards blitzing, Brown dropped back, and with no one open, took off running and scrambled out to the 12 yard line, where he didn’t slide and got popped in the back by Hoage but good for a first down as the crowd gave a combination of a Bronx cheer and actual cheer.  On first down, the Giants got a play from Herschel


Going into the 1995 season, the Giants had high hopes, after finishing 9-7 and winning their last 6 games, the Giants thought they were contenders.  They signed a big name, but past his prime Herschel Walker, who was released by the Eagles.  Walker  however, still had flashes in his game.  And in this case, he showed it, taking a reverse after a fake to Hampton and Herschel ran to his left.  Walker still had the speed to turn the corner, square his shoulders, cut inside Williams who took a horrible angle, ran through an arm tackle by Hoage and then eventually powered his way to the 48 yard line, a 36 yard gain.  Giants would get one play off before the 2 minute warning, an out to Sherrard who caught it at the Cards’ 45 yard line for a 7 yard gain, with the 2 minute warning coming officially at 1:57.  


Now, need to show this as it cracked me up.  Pope John Paul II came to Giants Stadium to give a mass back in 1995.  Clearly feeling energized by the Pontiff’s visit, the Giants fans came ready to commemorate his stay in what would be described as in no way disrespectful to the leader of the Catholic Church, including homemade papal hats, and one Giant fan blessing the crowd and got Matt Millen’s kudos.  2nd and 3, with Pierce in motion, Brown would check down to Herschel in the flat at the 46 yard line.  Similar to the play in which Wheatley stumbled and got nailed, Walker however would quickly regain his balance, turn up the field and absorb the hit from Hill and made it out to the 40 for a first down and stayed in bounds to have the clock keep running.  First down, Brown in the gun, and the pocket collapsed, but allowed a lane for Brown, who took off running (Brown was an underrated scrambler) and got all the way out to the 30, where he slid down in front of Joyner and called a time out with 1:14 to go in the half.  Brown back to throw, he would look to his left and pump fake but nothing was there, spin around and come back to his right, where Cross had settled down at the 30, and he would catch it and turn up field and get out to the 26 yard line where he was hit out of bounds by Lynch with 1:06 to go.  But just as you think that Dave Brown was maturing with smart plays…


This play showed why Giants fans get so disgusted by the Dave Brown.  The Cardinals came on a blitz.  It’s a Buddy Ryan team.  Of course they blitz.  And they overload their blitzes to make sure someone comes free and you need to make a quick decision.  Eric Hill came free and had Brown for a sack, but Brown spun away for a moment.  Rather than just eat it, he kept trying to make a play and as he got hit, essentially threw a blind pass sort of towards Herschel.  But it was an easy pick for Hoage at the 21.  Matt Millen said it all “it was a great play in avoiding the rush and a stupid play for just turning and throwing it.”  And Matt Millen knows stupid folks. 

So another trip into scoring territory for the Giants results in a Dave Brown interception, and the Cardinals had 1 minute to play with.  The first play would have been a penalty in 2018


Krieg would drop back and with Stacey Dilliard coming in on him, he got a pass off to Reeves at the 37 yard line.  Reeves would get hit low by Randolph but absorb a vicious hit high from Glenn.  If you wanted to go to central casting and find what a safety looks like, you’d get Vencie Glenn.  Big, rangy, with the Darth Vader visor and he put a big hit on Reeves by his head.  Reeves would hold on and the Cards would call a time out.  Since this was 1995, there was no flag for a hit to the head, and in fact, FOX replayed it with the sound and got a guffaw from Millen on how hard the hit sounded and talked of how you want to get hits like that.  This was before concussion lawsuits, needless to speak.  Anyway it was first down for the Cards with :52 to go and Krieg threw to a diving Edwards at the 43, hit down by Armstead but the clock was running.  Krieg tried to again go to Edwards in the flat, but the ball sailed high.  3rd and 4, Krieg would roll out to his left and with plenty of time would throw to Sanders at the 46, who got away from Wooten and took the ball out of bounds at the 47 and stopped the clock with :27 to go and still 2 time outs.  Krieg in the gun would throw an underneath pass to Centers on a semi screen at the 46 yard line and he would get out to the Giants’ 46 yard line, hit by Armstead and the Cards took their 2nd timeout with :21.  2nd and 4, the pass went to Centers who caught it at the 48 yard line, and started to cut back into the field of play at the 43, took on a hit from Wooten and should have been stopped in bounds, but the fullback lurched out of bounds at the 39 to stop the clock with :14.  Krieg in the gun again, got hit by Armstead on a blitz and forced a floater towards Sanders at the 24 yard line, who dove but it fell incomplete with :09 to go.  


Why show this miss of a 57 yard FG?  Well, a few reasons.  First of all, the Cardinals had time for one more play and a time out.  Why they didn’t try to at least get a few yards closer and take a timeout is a head scratcher, until you realize that Buddy Ryan was the head coach and he virtually ignored his offense as the head man since he only cared about his defense.  And this also mattered because this was a game destined for overtime (spoiler alert).  But last, as a Giant fan, it’s nice to recall a time when a kicker didn’t just trot out to blast long field goals at the end of the half or game.  The Giants have lost games on 61 and 63 yard field goals in 2017 and 2018.  It would seem any team can sign a guy at a Dunkin Donuts and they can bury a long field goal like it was a chip shot.  So here is some video evidence, that in a happier time (and 1995 the Giants finished 5-11), kickers would actually miss vs. the Giants.

With :03 to go in the half, Brown came on for his Hail Mary try and to Terry Hoage’s credit, rather than getting an easy pick to pad his stats, he just knocked the ball down and the teams went into the half with the Giants trailing 10-7 and the Giants exited to boos.

To start the 2nd half, Daluiso kicked off and sent it mid way into the end zone for a touchback.  The Cardinals offense would begin with a run by Hearst up the gut for a 4 yard gain, hit down by Agnew and Croel.  


2nd and 6, the ball again went to Hearst running up the middle and saw an opening to his left and cut back through a huge hole.  It looked like he was going to be off and running, but a diving tackle by Agnew was able to strip the ball out at the 28, but with no one really around Hearst, he was able to get a favorable bounce and fall on it at the 32 for a first down, with Campbell and Croel finally jumping on him.  First down, Krieg back, out to Sanders at the the 37 and he had plenty of room to turn up the field where Beamon would shove him out of bounds at the 41, a yard short of the first.   The set up a 2nd and 1, where the Cards went conservative with a handoff to Centers up the middle and he bounced off Brooks at the 42 and fell forward to the 45, taken down by Strahan.  First down, Hearst on a sweep to the left, followed his blockers and was able to turn the corner (thanks to a missed hold on Randolph by Sanders) until he was blasted out of bounds by Wooten at the Giants 41, but yet another first down.  The Cardinals would try a misdirection handoff to Hearst after a fake to Centers and Hearst tried to power his way up the middle where he was met by Hamilton, Strahan, and Croel at the 38.  2nd and 7, Krieg would take a 3 step drop, pump fake a pass and then come back to his 275 pound TE Wendell Gaines at the 38 and he spun off of Miller and got down to the 32, covered up by Beamon but on the play Miller would hurt his leg.  3rd and 1, the veteran Krieg would go to the hard count and drew Hamilton offsides and the encroachment penalty would give the Cardinals an easy first down.  First down, Krieg would fake a handoff and rollout to his right, and set up and fire a pass down to the left corner of the end zone towards Edwards, but he was well covered by Randolph and the ball fell incomplete.  2nd and 10, Krieg back and he felt the rush up the middle by Agnew that forced a high pass in the flat towards Centers and soared out of bounds.  3rd and 10, Krieg in the gun, would have to wait as a false start on Joe Wolf would set the Cardinals back to a 3rd and 15.  Krieg in the gun again and with time in the pocket, he would sling a pass to Edwards at the 19 yard line, where he was would turn to the 17, covered up by Beamon and Wooten, a yard short of the first down.  Despite the offense yelling at Buddy Ryan to go for it, the defensive minded coach ignored them and wanted to take the 3 and sent out Davis to hit the 36 yarder and make the score 13-7 with 9:06 to go in the 3rd.


Davis would kick off a poor knuckleball effort which bounced at the 19, kind of went sideways and was covered up by Herschel at the 15, and he would get up and start looking like he was tip toeing his way up the field.  What was amazing about Herschel, for such a big, muscular man, he was extremely fast, but he never actually looked fast.  As he was running, with these choppy steps, he didn’t seem to be moving quickly, until you noticed that no one else was keeping up with him.  In this case, he broke a couple of tackles at the 24, bounced off another hit that send him backwards, but he kept his feet, broke another tackle at the 30 and he started to get a head of steam as he cut back, only to run into his backup guard, 320 pound Rob Zatechka at the 45, or else he might have been gone, but he got it all the way out to the 50.  And meanwhile behind the play, kicker Greg Davis was getting in a fight with Tito Wooten.  Anyway, the Giants got the ball in good field position, and a pitch to Wheatley running to his right was good for an 8 yard gain out to the Cards’ 42 yard line, taken down by Williams. 


2nd and 2, Wheatley again would get the carry, and this time he would follow Aaron Pierce who came in motion, but he cut back over the middle through a huge hole and ran with some power as he lowered his shoulder into Williams at the 30 and he pushed his way out to the 26, where he was finally corralled by Hoage and Hill and a 16 yard gain.  First down, Wheatley got the ball again, this time running to his left, but Wilson cut him down after a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, and with the running game working a bit, now the play action was able to be used, so Brown would fake to Wheatley running to the left and he would bootleg to the right, and have plenty of time to find Sherrard who ran a button hook out to the 21, and he would dance his way up the sidelines, around a Cardinal tackle attempt and try to dodge Garth Jax, but he would step out of bounds at the 15 for another first down.  The Giants would give to Wheatley trying to run to his right, however flags came flying for a false start on Jumbo Elliott.  1st and 15 at the 20, and the Giants would give to Wheatley up the middle and he would get stacked up for a 1 yard gain by Simmons, as the crowd booed.  On 2nd and 14, Brown tried a deep shot to Sherrard near the corner of at the 2 yard line, but the ball sailed on him and fell incomplete as Hoage jumped at the pass and could have been called for pass interference, but they let it go.  So now 3rd and 14, Brown went into the shotgun and we actually saw something on this play.


Why highlight this play?  Well, when you convert a 3rd and 14 against an aggressive defense with two of the most maligned NY Giants players of the 1990s, you need to give that highlight some life.  Brown had time in the pocket as Jumbo held off the onrushing Simmons, and with a good pocket to throw in, Brown zipped a strike into Arthur Marshall over the middle at the 7 yard line and the WR would take it down to the 2 for a first and goal.  Marshall known as the guy who Reeves traded for to bring back from his Denver Bronco days, and in doing so, decided to cut Ed McCaffrey.  Now, McCaffrey technically went back to the Bay Area (he went to Stanford) and signed with the 49ers where he won a Super Bowl in 1994.  By 1995, he would end up in Denver.  Needless to say, the Broncos and their fans got the better of the Marshall for McCaffrey swap.  Anyway, the Giants were in business.  On first down Wheatley ran into a wall in the form of Jamir Miller for no gain.  2nd and goal at the 2, the Giants would go with a standby play I wish they would still use today.


I have long been a proponent of the play action fake and pass to a FB or TE by the goal line on first or second down, even today.  Teams are loaded up for the run, because it’s the most obvious/direct way to get a TD.  You don’t need much time or window to make the play successful.  And it seems to work about 95% of the time you actually attempt it.  So this time credit to Reeves.  The Giants had their rookie blocking fullback in 250 pound Charles Way in front of fellow rookie Wheatley.  An aggressive Cardinals defense sold out for the run, and the play action fake to Wheatley drew in Hill and Joyner, allowing Way a wide open spot to find to his right in the flat at the 2 yard line.  Brown got a nice block by Wheatley and neatly threw the ball to Way who hauled it in and chugged into the end zone before Joyner could recover for a TD.  Way started to celebrate, and then remembered it was his first NFL score on his first NFL catch, so he stopped mid dance and ran after the ball to get it from the official and ran off the field happy as Brown shouted encouragement of his own.  Dauliso’s extra point was good to make the score 14-13 with 4:08 to go in the 3rd capping a 9 play, 50 yard drive taking 4:58 off the clock.

Daluiso would first have to reset his kickoff after it blew off the tee and the refs made Chris Calloway come hold the ball.  The kick would go as a line drive that would bounce at the goal line and through the end zone for a touchback.  The Cardinals would start off with the ball at the 20 and the crowd in full throat.  And the Cards would silence the crowd initially, with Hearst taking a handoff running to his right, cut inside Marcus Buckley at the 24, and around Campbell who overran the play and accelerated out to the 34 yard line where he was taken down on a nice tackle by Glenn.  First down, the crowd came back to life again, and Krieg would drop back and throw a back shoulder throw to Edwards by the left sideline at the Giants’ 47, where Randolph didn’t play the ball, and Edwards hauled it in and he would tumble down and out of bounds at the 39.  First down, Krieg would fake the handoff to Centers, and with Strahan bearing down on him from the left side (he began as a LDE before begrudgingly settling in at RDE and become a Hall of Famer), Krieg would sling a sidearm pass to Centers at the 37, and he would get tackled by Randolph after a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, Krieg dropped back and the Giants came on a blitz with Armstead charging in and forced another side arm sling pass by Krieg towards Hearst who dropped it at the 37.  On 3rd and 8, the Cards made a great play


In 2018, this play gets every flag thrown by all officials.  In 1995, not so much.  Krieg dropped back as the Giants came on a blitz, but it was picked up well by the Cards offensive line and allowed Krieg to set up and throw a deep pass towards Sanders.  Sanders just got past Beamon by the right sideline and found a space in front of Glenn who ranged over from safety.  Sanders would haul in the pass, absorb a nasty hit by Glenn to his head (which would have been a penalty and big fine today) and held on for a great catch at the 11 yard line.  Sanders would get up to celebrate and Matt Millen would voice his approval from the booth.  On the play, Glenn actually got a double head shot, leaving his feet and launching at the WR, nailing Sanders and also taking out his teammate Beamon.  Beamon would be forced from the game (in hindsight, probably a concussion) and Sparks had to come back to play with his bad arm.  The Cards would run the ball with Hearst to his right, out to the 6 yards line, hit down by Buckley.  2nd and 5 at the 6, the Sanders show continued


With the crowd now quiet, Hearst would come off the field and the Cardinals would go to the air.  Krieg would take a quick 3 step drop, and throw a pass towards Sanders in the right corner of the end zone.  The big rookie WR would jump over Sparks and snag the ball for a TD, as Sparks didn’t really show much ball awareness, as Matt Millen would point out (btw, Millen was actually an underrated commentator in the booth).  The Cardinals would go for a 2 point conversion, and Krieg would rollout to his right, with his first read not open, and at this point it kind of became a scramble drill, with Krieg not getting much pressure and moving around in the pocket, long enough for Sanders to come uncovered in the back of the end zone for the 2 point conversion (helped by Sparks falling down) and make the score 21-14 with :47 left in the 3rd.  

Davis would kickoff and again it was a short effort in the wind at Giants’ Stadium, taken by Herschel at the 16 but this time Herschel was tackled at the 31 by Jax near the sidelines.  Brown would lead his offense out, now down by a TD.  On first down, they would fake to Wheatley and Brown rolled to his left.  But Miller wasn’t fooled and came in on the Giants’ QB to get pressure on him, forcing a bad pass that was behind Sherrard at the 43 and fell incomplete.  2nd and 10, Brown got some pressure up the middle, but sidestepped it, and threw a dart to Calloway, who dove and caught it at the 45, and was essentially speared on the ground by Hill (but no call) on what would be the final play of the 3rd quarter.  To start the 4th quarter, Reeves would try to get fancy, going with a pitch to Wheatley running to his right, and he would lateral a reverse to Calloway going back to the left.  Now, normally an aggressive defense like the Cardinals could be prone to a play like that, but Jamir Miller played his responsibility on the left side by staying as deep as the deepest man, got off an attempted block by Dave Brown and smothered Calloway at the 38 yard line for a 6 yard loss.  So now 2nd and 16, Brown would go with a hard count and had guys jumping all over the place and in the end Gordon McCarter would throw the flag on the Cardinals for an offsides.  So now it’s 2nd and 11 the Giants would get a big play


With Brown in the shotgun, the Giants brought in Walker and Way to flank him to help in max protect as both were good pass blockers, and also with Pierce in motion, he held up to block.  The end result allowed Brown to sit back with plenty of time to throw and he would pump fake and get the Cardinals’ DB Brent Alexander to bite and threw a deep shot to a wide open Calloway at the 22 and he had to hold up a bit or else he would have scored.  Calloway was able to get out to the 7 yard line where Alexander would catch him from behind after a 49 yard gain.  First and goal at the 7, the Giants would give the ball to Wheatley who powered over the middle out to the 2 yard line, stopped by Alexander and Hoage.  2nd and goal at the 2, Dave Brown would do the honors himself


Again, we could see some flashes as to why George Young used a first round supplemental pick on Dave Brown out of Duke.  Brown was big, had a good arm, was smart and could actually move around a bit.  But we also saw why Brown was a bust, all on the same play.  Brown would fake the handoff and drop back.  At the middle of the field, Aaron Pierce actually snuck out in the middle of the end zone and was wide open.  Brown looked at him initially, and he had time to hit him for an easy TD, but he hesitated and looked back to his right and started to scramble, where again he could have tossed an easy TE on the other side to Brian Kozlowski, but he decided to hold the ball and run into the end zone after running over Karl Dunbar for a TD.  Brown would celebrate by throwing the ball up into the stands as Buddy Ryan looked on disgustedly.  Dalusio’s extra point was good to tie the score at 21-21 with 12:53 to go in the game after a 6 play, 69 yard drive that ate up only 2:54 off the clock.

Daluiso’s kickoff would be short, taken by Perry at the 10 and he would get out to the 22, hit down by Corey Widmer.  Again the crowd was screaming to get the defense fired up and the Cardinals would hand off to Hearst running to his right and he would turn the corner to the 29 yard line, pushed out by Campbell.  2nd and 3, Krieg would drop back and with no pressure throw to Sanders, who came back to the ball at the 36 and he would get smacked by Campbell and knocked backwards, but it was good for a first down.  First down, Hearst with a burst up the middle and he looked like he was going to get a big gain, but he was tripped up by Brooks and he fell forward to the 40, where Croel covered him up.  2nd and 7, a pitch to Hearst running to his left, but there was nothing there as there was no push, and Hearst tried to reverse field.  But in doing so he was nailed by Brooks and Coleman Rudolph at the 39.  Now 3rd and 8, Krieg was under pressure by Jamal Duff who just missed the sack and Krieg spun away from him and threw down the field towards Centers but the ball bounced in front of him.  Feagles would come out to punt and he would send to Marshall, but the ball was boomed 60 yards and into the end zone for a touchback.

The Giants would start off at the 20 and Herschel took the handoff up the middle and with not much wiggle (Herschel never had it) he got a 5 yard gain, taken down by Miller.  2nd and 5, Brown would give a draw to Wheatley up the gut and he would find a lane behind Brian Williams and get out to the 30 for a first down, again Miller in on the tackle.  First and 10, Wheatley running a sweep to the right, following Herschel and he would barrel into Lynch for a 4 yard gain as Bankston would get dinged on the play.  On 2nd and 6, Wheatley would get lucky


Wheatley was starting to get into a rhythm.  The Giants would again feed him the ball, this time running to his right where he followed the pulling Lance Smith in the hole who kicked out Miller.  Herschel would provide an escort with a block on Hill to get Wheatley into the secondary as he broke a tackle by Hoage at the 35 and bounce to the outside.  However, Wheatley was holding the ball like the proverbial loaf of bread where he would put his shoulder into Lynch at the 43 yard line.  As Lynch engaged him, Wheatley held the ball away from his body and Lynch swatted it away and backwards.  The ball would land in the field of play momentarily, but roll out of bounds at the 43 on a near disaster.  Still a first down, and Wheatley would get the ball, cut back over the middle and power into Joyner at the 48 for another good gain.  Wheatley would come out of the game to cheers from the crowd and Hampton back in.  Hampton would get the ball and power off right tackle and get a good lean out to the Cardinals’ 43, running over Hill and Lynch for another first down.  The Giants were wearing down the Cardinals defense as the ball again went to Hampton, this time running to his left and he turned the corner and barrelled up the field, picking up a nice block by Calloway at the 35 and getting all the way down to the 29, tripped up by Alexander.  The Cardinals would call a timeout with 6:31 to go to regroup.  Hampton again would get the ball, running to his left and moved the pile for another 5 yard gain to the 24.  2nd and 5, Brown would fake to Hampton and roll to his right, he would pump fake and get away from a tackle attempt by Joyner at the 30, and around another diving tackle attempt at the 25 by McCants and scramble out to the 19 where he slid down and he was given a first down by the nose of the ball on the measurement.  First down and driving and in control, Hampton would take the ball up the gut, find another hole up the middle and he would get dragged down by Hoage and Alexander at the 9.  2nd and 1, Hampton would burrow up the middle and fall forward to the 5 yard line, covering up the ball with the broken hand.  First and goal with the clock running, the Cards came on a run blitz and hit Hampton in the backfield and Hill got him down at the 6.  On the next play, Hampton’s broken hand would come into play


Reeves had said he wasn’t sure if he was going to use Hampton, but with the game on the line and on this drive, Wheatley took a seat and Hampton was carrying the rock.  But against a team that strips the ball, playing with a broken bone is tough.  And it turned out to be disaster, Hampton took the ball over the middle where he was met by Hill who put a helmet right on that hand and forced it out.  A huge pile up at the 5 yard line ensued as Brown held his head in disbelief while Howard Cross defiantly was pointing in the direction of the Giants.  But the refs agreed with Brown’s concern as Aeneas Williams recovered it on the Giants’ 3rd turnover of the game.

So the Cardinals avoided sure disaster as the Giants seemed in control and now they had the ball back at their own 5 with 3:07 to go.  Hearst would power off left tackle and get out to the 10 yard line, hit down by Strahan.  Hearst again would get the next carry, he followed a block by Gaines who nailed Agnew and gave him a hole to burst out to the 16, hit down by Keith Hamilton which took the game to the 2 min warning but good for a first down.  Now the Cards would go on the attack


Krieg, now with room, would drop back and roll to his right, and set up to throw with no pressure around him  He would uncork a deep shot down the right sidelines to Sanders, who got behind Beamon and the rookie hauled it in at the Giants’ 44 and he would get all the way down to the 37.  A penalty thrown on Beamon for illegal contact was declined and a huge 47 yard gain changed the whole complexity of the game as the crowd moaned.  First down, Krieg would drop back, again time to throw and hit Centers at the 32, and the fullback would take on Buckley, Armstead and Brooks and get down to the 30.  2nd and 2, Hearst tried to cut back to his right, but he was grabbed by Harris and thrown backwards for a loss.  3rd and 4, Krieg would be in the shotgun and had pressure from Strahan forcing him to run to his right and throw back across his body towards Edwards, but with nothing on the throw it bounced in front of him at the 30.  So that brought up 4th down with :23 to go to attempt a 50 yard field goal


Now, if you have been a Giants fan since around 2015, you have known nothing but every field goal kicker always hitting a game winner against the Giants.  Whether it’s 55 yards, or 61 yards or 63 yards, doesn’t matter, the ball is going through the uprights.  However, in the old Giants Stadium, the wind was always a factor and Davis, though with a strong leg, had to deal with it.  And he hit it well, but the ball sailed wide to the left as it knuckled up there and finally fluttered no good.

With :18 to go, and at the 40, Brown was in the gun, and he threw a dart to Marshall at the Cards’ 45, but he dropped a nice pass.  So 2nd and 10 with :14 to go, Brown would get some pressure this time, and he got the ball to Calloway at the 46, and this time Calloway would drop the pass and the clock stopped with :09 to go and the Giants with all 3 time outs.  This time Brown would drop back, pump fake, but the pass protection would break down and Brown would get sacked by Joyner and Bankston to end regulation time and go to overtime.

In OT, Eric Hill would call tails and it would land on tails, giving them the ball first.  Of course, back in 1995, the first time to score would win, including a field goal.  Daluiso would kick off and send the ball to Terry at the 2 yard line and he would get out to the 23, hit down by Widmer and Maurice Douglass.  First down at the 23, the Cards would start with a playfake to Hearst, rolling to his left and he would throw to Gaines at the 34 and the big TE would get whacked by Campbell and force a drop.  2nd and 10,  Krieg again dropped back and rolled his right and with plenty of time threw a strike to Centers at the 35 and he would get bulldogged to the ground by Beamon at the 42 but good for a first down on a 19 yard gain.  First down, Krieg again back and he would try to flip a pass out to Hearst in the right flat, where Strahan would tip the pass into Hearst’s hands and he would get blasted by Miller and force a drop.  On 2nd and 10, we would see one of the undoings of Krieg


Dave Krieg had a great career, but he was also known as the all time leader in fumbles thanks to small hands.  In this case, the former Seahawk was met by the former Bronco, Croel, who came on the blitz off the blind side where he was picked up by Hearst.  Croel would get around Hearst and barge in on Krieg, chasing him down at the 37 yard line and as he was taking Krieg to the ground, he would punch the ball out.  It would get recovered at the 35 by Hamilton. 

So the Giants were in business, in field goal range, but the Giants would start with a pitch to the left for Wheatley who ran tentatively and was grabbed by Simmons back at the 40 for a big loss as the crowd booed.  2nd and 15, Brown would drop back as the Cardinals came on a blitz and he was sacked by Hoage for what looked like a huge loss.  However, offsides on Hill ruined the blitz and set it back to 2nd and 10 at the 35.  The Giants looked to dodge one bullet on the all out Ryan blitz.  But they weren’t as lucky on the next play.


Ryan clearly wanted to push the Giants back and out of field goal range.  So he called for another all out blitz.  And just like in his time in Chicago with the old 46 defense, the Cardinals overloaded and blitzed more guys than can be picked up.  Brown dropped back to set up to throw as Lynch came in on his safety blitz around the corner and was free.  Lynch would literally jump on Brown’s back as he tried to throw and punched the ball out and knocked it free where it looked to be recovered by Hill as the teams piled up.  Again the refs waited and first signaled Giants’ ball and 3rd down, but Lynch somehow came out with the ball and McCarter changed his mind and gave it to Arizona. 

So OT was not even 3 minutes old and you had 2 strip sacks by both teams and it resulted in the Cardinals ball at the 38.  Hearst would take the carry up the middle for a 5 yard gain, hit down by Hamilton.  Hearst again got the ball, and this time he would get a short gain, hit down by Brooks and Hamilton.  On 3rd down, the Giants would bring out their nickel defense on 3rd and 3, which put Armstead on the field


Krieg be in the shotgun on 3rd and 3 and start to feel some pressure from Strahan forcing him to step up in the pocket as Strahan got a hand on him.  Krieg would try to fire a pass over the middle towards Edwards, however Armstead had gotten deep and picked it off at the 42 yard line.  And Armstead, known as an undersized but fast LB out of the University of Miami, would charge up the field, follow a nice block by Beamon at midfield on Hearst and accelerate past the angle of Krieg, who was walled off by Duff and he would race into the end zone for a dramatic game winning pick.  But a flag for a hold on Wolf of the Cardinals was declined and the game ended 27-21 on Armstead’s 58 yard interception.  Ever the good sport, Buddy Ryan walked off the field instead of meeting with Reeves and brought the Giants record to 2-4.

Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits 

  • Armstead’s TD was the first of his career.  He only scored one other time, at Philly in 1997 early in the game against Bobby Hoying in the first game review I did on bigbluevcr.
  • Mike Croel’s sack was the only one of his career with the Giants (which lasted all of one year).  Croel was yet another import from the Broncos with his ties to Dan Reeves. But by 1995, the NJ Broncos imports had gotten worse and worse.   You could argue that Michael Brooks, Mike Horan, and Brad Daluiso were generally good, and maybe even Mark Jackson. But once you hit the Croel, Arthur Marshall and Tommy Maddox part, things really started going south.  Croel was a big time LB prospect out of Nebraska and was good enough to be picked 4th overall by the Broncos in the 1991 draft. Croel was coming in out of college at a time where the Cornhuskers were producing some good NFL prospects on defense (Neil Smith, Broderick Thomas, Danny Noonan)  His teammate, corner Bruce Pickens was selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons. Croel started out well, registering 10 sacks in his rookie season and he would win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. But from that auspicious start, Croel never lived up to his promise or expectations.  He would only follow that up with 5 sacks in both 1992 and 1993. In 1994, he got shut out in sacks. Not good for a pass rusher. The Broncos allowed him to leave as a free agent where he tried to link back up with his old coaches from Denver from his initial burst in 1991. But it didn’t work out with the Giants either.  Croel would leave after the 1995 season, playing 1 years in Baltimore in 1996 in their first season out of Cleveland, he would miss the 1997 season and finish his career in 1998 with the Seahawks, where he would register only 1 tackle and he was out of the NFL after that.  
  • Dave Brown’s rushing TD to tie the game was his first on the season and he would actually rush for 4 TDs in 1995, good for 2nd best on the team behind Rodney Hampton’s 10 TDs and ahead of Tyrone Wheatley’s 3.  To put that in perspective, Brown’s 4 rushing TDs in 1 season was rarified air for Giants QBs
    • Phil Simms- Rushed for 1 TD in a season 6 times (1979, 1980, 1986, 1989, 1990, and 1991)
    • Jeff Hostetler- Giants high 3 TDs rushing in 1992 (Note- he rushed for 5 TDs in 1993 with the Raiders)
    • Kent Graham- Career high 2 TDs rushing in 1998
    • Danny Kanell- 0 rushing TDs in his career
    • Kerry Collins- Giants high with 2 TDs rushing in 1999 (he rushed for 3 TDs as a rookie with the Panthers in 1995)
    • Kurt Warner- Tied career high with 1 rushing TD in 2004
    • Eli Manning- Rushed for 1 TD in a season 6 times (2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017)
  • Tyrone Wheatley got his first career start in this game.  He seemed to be a perfect NY Giants fit at running back. Big, strong and fast, and the Giants knew that Rodney Hampton was starting to break down thanks to extended use/abuse by Dan Reeves.  Coming out of the Michigan program, which was one of George Young’s favorites, he seemed to be a perfect Giant. Hampton would break his hand the week before at San Francisco so they needed Wheatley to step up against an aggressive Cardinals defense.  Wheatley’s 61 yards on 18 carries were both season highs in his rookie year. But thanks to injuries and a coaching change from Reeves to Fassel, and the emergence of Charles Way as a fullback and Tiki Barber at running back, his 61 yards rushing was the 5th best performance of his career with the Giants.  He would only rush for over 100 yards once in his 4 years with the Giants, in 1997 he ran for 103 yards on 22 carries in a 27-13 win at Arizona. In 1998, Wheatley would only play in 5 games, rushed for 52 yards, giving up his job to a journeyman in Gary Brown (who actually rushed for 1063 yards that year).
  • Wheatley would get traded for a 7th round pick in 1999 to the Miami Dolphins (the Giants drafted LB OJ Childress (who would play in 4 games in 1999 and be out of the NFL by 2001). Wheatley would get released in training camp after being unable to beat our such stalwarts as JJ Johnson and Cecil Collins and wind up with the Raiders, where he actually had a career rebirth.  He rushed for 936 yards and 8 TDs in 1999, and in 2000, at age 28, Wheatley would rush for 1046 yards and 9 TDs, both career highs.  Wheatley would remain with the Raiders through the 2004 season and retire at age of 32.
  • Meanwhile, fellow rookie fullback Charles Way scored the first TD of his career on a 2 yard catch.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Way had a very underrated career with the Giants compared to Wheatley.  Way was an unheralded 6th round pick and generally a blocking back. But Way had good hands, and a little wiggle for a 245 pound back.  He earned more playing time in 1996, catching 32 passes. When the Giants won the NFC East in 1997, with Hampton out for most of the season with a knee injury, and Wheatley also injured, and rookie Tiki Barber mainly considered a 3rd down back and returner, Way was the Giants leading rusher with 698 yards.  In 1998, with Gary Brown settling in, Way still put up 432 yards rushing as a fullback. However, by 1999, Way was starting to break down with shoulder problems (the result of all the blocking and hits he took). The Giants started to use the younger/quicker Greg Comella at fullback and Way retired after the 1999 season and missed out on the Giants Super Bowl run in 2000.  Way would join the Giants front office for 14 years as the Director for Player development before leaving that job to replace Troy Vincent at the NFL offices as Head of Player Engagement in 2014 where he spent 2 years before moving into the private sector.
  • Mike Sherrard’s TD was his final one in a Giants uniform at Giants Stadium.  He would score 3 more TDs in 1995, all on the road (at Washington, Seattle, and Arizona).  
  • Chris Calloway’s 49 yard catch was his longest of the 1995 season.  His career long was a 68 yarder in 1997 to beat the Lions in Detroit in OT.
  • Herschel Walker’s 36 yard run was his longest as a NY Giant. In all he was a disappointment in 1995 for the Giants.  Granted he had lots of tread on his tires at age 33 following a legendary career at the University of Georgia as the Heisman Trophy winner.  Walker would make Giants Stadium his home after college, but with the NJ Generals in the USFL. Walker had an amazing career in a very fun and competitive league:  1983 (1812 yards rushing, 489 receiving and 18 total TDs) and 1984 (1339 yards rushing, 528 receiving and 21 total TDs). In 1985, Walker had a record setting season, as he broke Eric Dickerson’s single season professional rushing record with 2411 yards rushing, and he added in another 467 receiving and 22 TDs in total.  When the USFL folded, Walker would go to the Cowboys and replace Tony Dorsett as the featured back. Eventually Walker would be involved in one of the most infamous trades in NFL history, when the Minnesota Vikings essentially jump started the Cowboys’ resurgence under Jimmy Johnson by trading away a bunch of high draft picks in 1989 for Walker.  Herschel would last 3.5 years in Minnesota and get released and end up in Philly and actually rush for 1070 yards in 1992, topping the 1000 mark for the first time since 1988, never having reached that milestone with the Vikings. Walker would only rush for 126 yards with the Giants and be off the team after the season, going back to the Cowboys where he would retire after the 1997 season at the age of 35.
  • Little used WR Omar Douglas’ kickoff return was the only one of the season for him and he would only return one more in his career, in 1996.  Douglas was a guy who looked great every preseason, he would make the team as a 4th or 5th WR, which means he needs to be good on specials. The only impact he ever made was when he returned a blocked punt by Keith Elias (another preseason wonder)  vs. the Eagles in 1995 for a TD in the infamous game when Tommy Maddox started at QB and posted a 0.0 QBR.
  • Winning a game in OT on a defensive TD is generally a rare occurrence but it has happened for the Giants a few times.  In 1999, Michael Strahan picked off a pass tipped by Christian Peter on a pass by Doug Pederson (now the Eagles head coach) and he rumbled it back 44 yards for a 23-17 win on Halloween.  The last time the Giants did it before this game in 1995 was 10 years earlier, when Elvis “Toast” Patterson picked off a tipped pass from Ron Jaworski in Week 4 of the 1985 season and ran it back 29 yards at the Vet to win the game 16-10.  As of this writing, the Giants have not won an OT game on a defensive TD since 1999.
  • Terry Hoage’s interception in the first half was the final one of his 10 year career.  In all he would pick off 21 passes in the regular season and 2 more in the playoffs. He would pick off 4 passes vs. the Giants in his career which would be the most vs. any single team.  As a member of the Eagles, Hoage had 2 picks vs. the Giants in 1988 at Giants Stadium in the Giants 23-17 OT loss.
  • Garrison Hearst’s 122 yards was his season high for the Cardinals, just edging out the 121 yards he rushed for in a win at Detroit 3 weeks prior.  Hearst, also a Georgia Bulldog like Herschel, was highly regarded coming out of college as a running back as the 3rd overall pick of the 1993 draft.  Hearst would crack the 1000 yard milestone in 1995, rushing for 1070 yards. However, Hearst had his warts. He only rushed for 1 TDs all year. And more troubling, he had 12 fumbles in 1995 (including one in this game when Agnew punched it out).  Going into the 1996 season, with Buddy out and Vince Tobin in, the Cardinals needed cap room (back then, teams were still figuring it out and there weren’t capologists around...or you had cheats like Carmen Policy in San Francisco) to sign their first rounder DE Simeon Rice.  So Hearst was waived in the pre-season, the Cardinals went with a running back by committee and he was picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals to pair with former Penn State top pick Ki-Jana Carter. Hearst would have a decent season, rushing for 847 yards, but he would again be a free agent going into the 1997 season.  At age 26, Hearst would land in San Francisco where his career would take off. Hearst would rush for 1019 yards in 1997, and he would follow that up with a breakout season in 1998, rushing for 1570 yards and 7 TDs. His 1570 yards were good for 3rd in the NFL, behind only Terrell Davis’ 2008 yards and Jamal Anderson’s 1846 yards.  Hearst would earn his first Pro Bowl selection. But after that would come the hard times. Hearst would miss the next 2 seasons with a knee injury and at age 30, would get back on the field in the 2000 season for the Niners. Amazingly, Hearst remained very productive, rushing for 1206 yards and got back to the Pro Bowl. Hearst would play 3 more years, finally finishing his career at age 33 with the Broncos in 2004.
  • Dave Krieg threw for 305 yards, his 3rd straight game posting 300 yards or more.  He would top the 300 yard mark one more time, a 413 yard and 4 TD effort in a win over the Falcons.  Krieg, a long time Seattle Seahawk would play 3 more years, going to the Bears and then Titans, but wouldn’t top 300 yards again, a number he achieved 18 times.  Krieg would face the Giants only 6 times in his 19 year career, which would make sense for all the years he was in the AFC. He was 2-4 vs. the Giants in his career.  
  • Krieg actually completed his first career pass vs. the Giants as he came in off the bench for mop up duty from Jim Zorn in a 32-0 blowout loss at the Kingdome.   He would go 5-9, for 50 yards and was sacked twice.
  • Krieg’s only 2 wins vs the Giants were by the same score, 17-12.  In 1983, they won at Giants Stadium to drop the Giants record to 3-11-1 under rookie head coach Bill Parcells.  The Giants would lose the next week as well to finish at 3-12-1. However, the Seahawks also beat the Parcells’ Giants 17-12 in week 7 of the 1986 season.  The loss dropped the Giants record to 5-2. They wouldn’t lose another game the rest of the season en route to winning Super Bowl XXI vs. the Broncos.
  • Rookie WR Frank Sanders caught his first 2 NFL touchdowns in this game as he had to be the main target with Rob Moore being lost early in the game to an ankle sprain.  It was Sanders’ only TDs of the 1995 season. Sanders wouldn’t catch multiple TDs in the same game again until the year 2000, when he did it twice (vs. the Cowboys and Browns), a total of 3 times in his 9 year career that mostly was spent with the Cardinals before he finished with the Ravens in the year 2003 at age 30.  
  • Buddy Ryan was a gigantic (no pun intended) pain in the ass as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.  In his time in Philly from 1986-1990, Buddy’s Eagles gave the Giants fits as they were a matchup nightmare for the Bill Parcells Giants.  The Giants started out 4-0 as the talent was just too much on the Giants side and Ryan was rebuilding the Eagles. However, the Eagles won the next 4 from 1988-1989, including some memorable (in a bad way) Giants losses.  In 1988 there was the missed tackle by Carl Banks and Randall Cunningham on a Monday Night that resulted in a TD pass to Jimmie Giles. And then there was the OT loss at Giants Stadium in the cold and rain on a blocked FG attempt by LT and the ball was run in by Clyde Simmons (I was at that game).  In 1989, the Giants blew a lead in their first game in Philly (thanks to a Banks TD on a fake FG) and lost late. And in the 2nd game at Giants Stadium, the Giants went down early on Eagles defensive TDs, fought back, but lost thanks to a Cunningham 91 yard punt when Dave Meggett misplayed the ball.  The Giants and Eagles would split the 1990 series, but the Eagles handed the 10-0 Giants their first loss at Philly in convincing fashion that included Mark Bavaro getting thrown out of the game for getting in a fight and bumping an official (yes, stoic Bavaro). By the end of the 1990 season, Ryan was fired after yet another playoff loss and Parcells “retired” and ultimately finished with a 5-5 record against each other, but Ryan went 5-1 in their final 6 games vs. Parcells.  In Arizona however, Ryan brought over many of his former Eagles players, but by this time they were well past their primes (Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Terry Hoage) and though he talked a big game (he was a Ryan after all), Buddy’s Cardinals went 1-3 vs. the Giants in his 2 years in the desert before he was fired.
  • Ryan’s only win vs. the Giants was 10-9 in 1994 in a game that could have set professional football back 50 years.  Neither team could notch over 240 yards of total offense and there were 16 penalties. The Giants held an early 9-0 lead thanks to a Kent Graham to Howard Cross TD (Dave Brown was out with an injury) and a safety thanks to a hold in the end zone on Earnest Dye.  But the Cardinals would get a FG and the game would stay 9-3, until with 1:39 left in the game, Steve Beuerlein would hit TE Bryant Reeves on a 9 yard TD to win the game. It would be the Giants 7th straight loss to drop their record to 3-7. They would regroup to rip off 6 straight wins and finish at 9-7 and just miss the playoffs.