1993 was one of the more enjoyable seasons for a Giants fan. After the joy from the 1990 Super Bowl run, we saw a proud Championship core team fall into disrepair and eventually to mediocrity and then worse under Ray Handley. While I didn't necessarily agree with everything Dan Reeves would do in his Giants tenure, this is no question that he righted the ship from the remaining members of Parcells' players, with some new players added in (yes, even the NJ Broncos). Say what you want about Reeves, you can't ignore the fact the man was a head coach in the NFL for 23 years, went 190-165, won 7 division titles, and took 4 teams to the Super Bowl, including both from the AFC (Broncos 3 times) and the NFC (Falcons). Reeves was able to take the Giants team, one in which most people felt would be in 4th or 5th place in the old NFC East and made them competitive. To be fair, they were more than competitive, though they were playing in the same division as the defending Super Bowl Champions Cowboys, who were right in the middle of their dynasty, they were right with them. Reeves got off to a fast start, going a very Coughlin like 5-1 out of the gate. However, after 2 straight losses, including a convincing 31-9 beat down at Texas Stadium, the Giants were 5-3 and the general sense was that the good vibes in NY were ending. However, heading into this Week 14 matchup, Reeves would turn things around. The Giants would win 3 straight games. In the week before this, the Giants would find themselves in a battle at home against the Cardinals, a team who the Giants usually would handle easily at the Meadowlands. The Cards would jump ahead 10-0 and then eventually grab a 17-13 lead going into the 4th quarter. With a 15-20 mph wind in the Giants face in the 4th quarter, they got a huge 54 yard field goal, into the wind, by kickoff specialist Brad Daluiso to steal a 19-17 win. A win that would give the Giants a 1 game lead over the Cowboys.
How did they get that 1 game lead? Well, a few days before that Cardinals game came one of the most memorable Thanksgiving Day games in history. In an ice/snow storm in Dallas, the 7-3 Cowboys would face the 8-2 Dolphins. Miami had Steve DeBerg at QB, as the 39 year old was coaxed out of his plans to become a coach and back up Scott Mitchell after their legendary quarterback Dan Marino was lost for the year after an achillies injury. After Mitchell got hurt, DeBerg took over. The Dolphins stunned the Cowboys with a 77 yard TD run by former Eagle Keith Byars, who fell down in the end zone and attempted to make a snow angel before he was piled on by his teammates in celebration. The Cowboys would take a 14-10 lead in the 4th quarter. A Pete Stoyanovich field goal would make the score 14-13 and the Dolphins would eventually get one more gasp to win. Late in the game, Stoyanovich lined up for a 41 yard field goal to win the game, but it would be blocked by the Cowboys. As the ball fluttered and fell beyond the line of scrimmage, and was surrounded by some Dolphin players, the game should have been over.
DT Leon Lett, inexplicably would come running over to pick it up, and slipped on the icy field. Batting the ball forward, it became a live ball and Miami fell on it at the 1 yard line. Of course, Ed Hochuli would be the ref for this game and have to explain what happened, which other than being the most jacked ref in the NFL, is his forte. Stoyanovich would come back out and nail the 19 yard FG to give the Dolphins an absolutely stunning 16-14 win and forever teach fans and teams all over the NFL the rules around blocked field goals. And a side note, it will never ever ever ever ever ever get old seeing disgusted Jerry Jones highlights on TV, and stunned Jimmy Johnson isn't so bad either.
So this game pitted 2 of the best teams, record wise, in the NFL against each other. The AFC East leading Dolphins with a 9-2 record and the NFC East leading Giants, with an 8-3 record. An interconference game, on CBS with Madden and Summerall at the mike for a December matchup of top teams? Why yes, I'll have some of that thank you.
The Game Highlights
In weather that was not what the Giants are used to in December, they found themselves in hot and humid Miami, with a game time temperature of 74 degrees. Weather that really was not good for the cold Northeast team, and particularly their bigger guys on the offensive and defensive lines. So much so, that Reeves decided to dress only 3 WRs in the game and activate more linemen.
Miami would win the toss and Daluiso booted one of his patented kickoffs through the uprights and out of the end zone for a touchback. Steve DeBerg, at age 39, came out at quarterback for the Fish and promptly had his first pass knocked down at the line by NT Stacy Dillard. On 2nd and 10, a draw play to Keith Byars was stacked up for just a 1 yard gain by Dillard, Mike Fox, and Keith Hamilton, pretty much the entire defensive line. On 3rd and 9, and in the shotgun, DeBerg tried to throw to former Giant Mark Ingram, but the ball was broken up and nearly picked off by Corey Raymond. Dale Hatcher came on to punt the ball away, and he kicked it out of bounds to avoid Dave Meggett, and it went out at the 42 yard line.
Phil Simms at QB, now the second oldest player in the NFL thanks to DeBerg's arrival, started with Rodney Hampton as a single setback. The Giants would also start off with a play action pass, but they would complete it to TE Aaron Pierce for a good gain and a first down to the Dolphin 37 yard line. With Hampton and Lewis Tillman both in the backfield, Simms botched the handoff to Tillman who was able to cut back over the middle for a 1 yard gain. On 2nd and 9, with Meggett in motion, Simms dumped the ball off to Jarrod Bunch, and the big fullback would break a tackle before powering to the 26 yard line and a first down, where he was finally stopped by Bryan Cox. Bunch would get the next handoff for a 2 yard gain and would be tackled by Dwight Hollier. On 2nd and 8, a sweep to Meggett would get the ball to to the 23 yard line where he would be met by Cox. On 3rd and long, Simms' pass to Mark Jackson was completed, but he was grabbed from behind and slung backwards by the back of his jersey (it would have been a horsecollar penalty today). The tackle though was legal then, and Jackson would be a yard short. Rather than go for a very makeable field goal, Reeves kept his offense on the field. The Giants went the power route, as Simms took the ball on a QB keeper, went in behind guard Bob Kratch and pushed forward for a first down as the Dolphins defense was still getting set. With the momentum of an aggressive playcall, the Giants would keep Miami on their heels.
From 14 yards out, Hampton would run to his right, and followed a great block by Howard Cross, who collapsed the end of the line, and Bunch on Jarvis Williams, allowing Hampton to get up a head of steam and run through 2 Dolphins' defenders to get into the end zone, as a huge contingent of Giants fans in South Florida gave a roar. David Treadwell's extra point was an ugly line drive, but still counted for a point, and the Giants had a 7-0 lead after their opening drive with 9:19 to go in the first quarter.
Daluiso's kickoff, predictably, sailed over OJ McDuffie's head for a touchback so the Dolphins would begin on their own 20. DeBerg would hand off to Mark Higgs, who would be rudely met in the backfield by Carlton Bailey for a loss. On 2nd and 11, a little dump off pass to Terry Kirby, who got lost in the Giants' zone and was able to rumble for a first down out to the 39 yard line where he was finally stopped by Bailey. On first down, DeBerg would have time in the pocket and stepped up to hit former Eagle and forever Giants killer Keith Jackson heading up the sidelines for a huge gain to the 17 yard line, finally getting caught from behind and tripped up by Michael Brooks. Kirby would take the next carry, and what looked to be a good run would be swallowed up by Brooks after only 2 yards. DeBerg's 2nd down pass was intended for Byars but was knocked away by Bailey. However, the refs decided the coverage was too good, as in illegal and threw a flag on Bailey, and the pass interference call put the ball on the 6 yard line. The Dolphins would cash in.
From one Giant killer (Jackson) to spark the drive and finished by another Giants killer (Byars), who took the handoff up the middle, spun off a tackle attempt by Bailey and powered his way into the end zone for a 6 yard score. Pete Stoyanovich's extra point would knot the game at 7-7.
Meggett would field the short kickoff at the 10 yard line and take it out past the 37, however a block in the back by Tillman would bring the ball back to the 16. With 2 TEs on offense, Simms would hit Chris Calloway on a quick pass in the flat, and he would turn it up field for a first down out to the 29 where he would be tackled by Jarvis Williams. Meggett would get the handoff and be stopped for no gain by John Offerdahl and Williams. 2nd and 10, Simms would find himself under pressure on a screen pass to Meggett, who would get the ball out to the 32 yard line where he was shoved out by Hollier. 3rd and 6, Simms would hit Jackson on a slant that was just good enough for a first down and continued Simms hot start, going 6-6 for 64 yards. A pitch to Hampton running right would only gain two yards as Jeff Cross and Hollier stopped him at the 44. Simms' next pass would fall off target, intended for Jackson. 3rd and 8, Simms had time to throw, scrambled to his left and tried to hit Calloway, but Troy Vincent would knock it away. Mike Horan would come on, and after taking a 5 yard delay of game penalty, would get off a beauty of punt that bounced at the 3 yard line and was downed at the 1 by Willie Beamon.
In the shadow of their own goal posts, Byars would get stopped after just 1 yard by Brooks. On 2nd and 9, DeBerg's pass would get batted down by Corey Miller, on a pass intended for Byars in the flat. 3rd and 9, the Dolphins would execute a perfect shovel pass to Kirby, who broke a tackle by Greg Jackson and took it out to the 19 yard line for a big first down. Higgs would get a short gain on the next play, getting stacked up by Bailey and Hamilton. DeBerg's next pass would be complete to Irving Fryar on an out pattern, and he took it out of bounds at the 33 for another first down. After an incomplete pass, DeBerg would stand in against the blitz and absorb a shot by Miller, but got the ball in to Jackson for a 5 yard gain, where he was stopped by Greg Jackson and bring the first quarter to a close. On 3rd and 5, with DeBerg in the gun, he would hit Ingram for a would be first down, however an offensive pass interference on Miami would wipe out the gain. Now 3rd and 14, the Dolphins would go backwards again, this time a false start on tackle Ron Heller. Forced to throw on 3rd and 19, DeBerg would find himself under pressure and get sacked by Erik Howard. Howard, playing at DE and going up against Pro Bowl tackle Richmond Webb, made a nice club move to get around Webb and register the sack. Not bad for a guy who made his name as a Pro Bowl nose tackle years earlier. Hatcher's punt to Meggett was covered well by Miami and got a 3 yard gain to the 37.
The Giants would start with a pitch to Meggett, who looked like he was going to set up and throw the ball, but the Dolphins were not fooled and forced him to take the ball down and run with it. Meggett would reverse field, get a good block by Simms and get a first down out by mid field. Hampton would take a draw carry over Jumbo Elliott for a 6 yard gain and was tackled by Mike Golic. 2nd and 3 at the 43, Hampton got up another head of steam and powered over Vincent for a first down out to the 27. Simms would get sacked by Marco Coleman, who beat Jumbo out of his stance. Now 2nd and 16 at the 33, Simms draw out of the shotgun to Meggett got back 3 yards to the 30. Now 3rd and 13, Simms dumped a pass off to Meggett, who avoided a few defenders and was dropped at the 22. David Treadwell came on to kick a 38 yarder and give the Giants the lead.
What should have been a chip shot was blocked by JB Brown, on what did look like a low kick. The ball bounced around and was recovered by Derek Brown, but the ball was turned over to Miami. Obviously, after the Leon Lett play, everyone was well aware of the rules.
Higgs would start off with a 7 yard gain, finally stopped by Miller at the 39. Howard would stuff Higgs after just 1 yard on the next carry. 3rd and 1, Byars now in the backfield, and would get the ball and jump over the pile, get knocked down by Michael Strahan at the 44, but good enough for a first down. Ingram snagged an 8 yard gain on a play action pass as he was knocked out of bounds by Raymond at the 48. Higgs would convert on the next play, despite a big hit by Howard. At the 45, DeBerg would start off with a time out with 6:45 to go in the half and come back with a pass to Jackson over the middle to the 35 yard line. DeBerg would stick to the air on the next play, hitting Byars for another first down to the 24, where he was stopped by Myron Guyton. A sweep to Higgs looked like it was going to be for a big gainer, but Raymond came up to stop him after a 3 yard gain. As it looked like the Dolphins were going to continue their march, the defense made a play.
A strange turnover, as DeBerg hit Byars over the middle, and as he was breaking a tackle from Corey Miller, the Giants' linebacker held on to him and end up slipping towards the ball, which was held in Byars' left arm. As Byars was struggling forward, LT launched himself towards Byars' arm, losening his grip just enough for Miller to rip it away for a fumble recovery.
Thanks to the fumble, the Giants got the ball at the 14 yard line and began with a handoff to Hampton for no gain by Coleman. 2nd and 10, Simms would go to the air and hit Jackson, who put on a double move, and turned up the field for a first down at the 28. And then it was highlight reel time next
A play action fake to Hampton held up the linebackers, allowing Pierce to get open down the field. He would stick his hand out and make a nice one handed snag of the pass and absorb a hit at midfield by Braggs. Offerdahl would get dinged on the play and be helped off. Trying to take advantage of the linebacker's absence, the Giants would run Hampton into the line and gain 3 more yards before he was stopped by Cox at the two minute warning. Coming out of the timeout, Simms had time to hit Calloway on a slant for a first down at the 33 yard line, again stopped by Cox. Hustling his team to the line, Simms threw in the direction of Cross, but it went off his hands and fell incomplete. On the next play, Simms would go back to Cross again, this time he caught it broke a tackle by Williams to bull his way to the 20 yard line, and another time out called by the Giants with 1:18 to go. Simms wasn't done going to his big TE
Again with time to throw, Simms would go to one the staples of the Giants offense for years, the seam pattern up the field to the tight end, in this case Howard Cross, who caught it at the 3 yard line and powered over a couple of Dolphins, avoiding Williams shot at the ball to knock it loose, and spin into the end zone for a big TD before the half. As Madden would say in the highlight, Simms' ability to throw that pass to a TE was unmatched by his peers. And another quick note, similar to the Hampton TD earlier, the huge crowd of Giants fans cheering at Miami was obvious. Treadwell's extra point made the score 14-7 with 1:12 remaining in the half.
Daluiso kept on with this usual, another touchback on the kickoff. DeBerg's first pass towards Ingram fell incomplete as he was under pressure, again by Howard. On the next play, the Giants defense would continue to force mistakes
DeBerg out of the gun, threw a deep pass down the sidelines in the direction of Tony Martin, but Collins was in great position and made a nice pick, particularly for a guy who had a knock on him for having bad hands. Collins interception gave the Giants the ball at the 30 yard line. Meanwhile on the other end of the play, rookie Michael Strahan was able to hit DeBerg as soon as he threw the ball and put him on the ground.
With :56 to go in the half, the Giants started with a swing pass to Meggett for a 9 yard gain, and he was knocked out of bounds by JB Brown with :50 to go. Simms would get sacked by Craig Vescey on the next play, getting a late push to knock the Giants back to the 35 yard line, as Simms yelled at his receivers that they should have been going downfield. Now 3rd and 5, Simms rolled out to his right and avoided some pressure to set up and throw all the way across the field to Bunch who was open. However Bunch did not look the ball into his hands and dropped it, messing up what would have been a first down if not more. Horan snagged a bad snap and booted the ball to the 30, where McDuffie fair caught it at the 30. With just :05 remaining in the half, Shula decided to just take a knee and go in at the half, down 14-7.
The Giants would get the ball to start the 2nd half. Meggett would return the kickoff from the 1 yard line and would be tackled by Bernie Parmalee at the 16 yard line. Hampton took the first carry and ran a sprint off left tackle, but was stopped by Cox after just 1 yard. On 2nd and 9, Simms looked for Meggett on a wheel route down the sideline, however Cox had great coverage and the ball bounced off his hands as Cox narrowly missed a pick. The Giants would go three and out after a pass break up by Vincent on Calloway. Horan's short punt to McDuffie was fielded at the 40 and returned into Giants territory at the 49, where he was stopped by Tillman.
DeBerg came back at QB and after a playaction fake, hit Fryar over the middle to the 30 yard line and a first down, where he was tripped up by Guyton. Higgs would gain 4 yards on the next play and would be tackled by Collins. On 2nd and 6, DeBerg would stick to the air, hitting Byars over the middle and he would bounce off of Bailey and Miller, before going down at the 15 yard line and another first down. A draw to Higgs would net 5 more yards. Byars would feel his way down the line on the next play, but only gain 2 yards as Brooks finally took him to the ground. 3rd and 3, DeBerg went towards Martin in the end zone, however pressure by Hamilton forced a poor throw that fell incomplete. On came Pro Bowl kicker Stoyanovich for what should have been an easy 26 yarder to make the score 14-10.
Former Eagle 2nd round pick Jesse Campbell came swooping inside and blocked the field goal, which bounced around behind the line of scrimmage at the 11 yard line. Greg Jackson tried to pick up the ball and run with it, but he bobbled it. However, in the pile up for the ball, the Dolphins never got a chance to pick it up and advance it. Again, by this time, every fan in the NFL knew the blocked field goal rules thanks to Leon Lett.
The Giants took over at the 15 yard line with the ball. Maybe most thought they would keep on the ground with Hampton. But Reeves kept to the air
On a perfect play action pass, that not only fooled Pat Summerall, but the Dolphins defense as well. It left Pierce wide open where he was able to grab the ball at the 33 and break a tackle and begin chugging up field, where he was eventually stopped by Cox at the Dolphins' 32 yard line for a 54 yard gain. Hampton would gain 3 yards around left end, and was tackled by Coleman. Meggett would also sweep around left end, following good blocks by Bunch and Cross to get to the 20 yard line for another first down. The Giants would continue pounding the ball, handing off to Hampton, who dove over the pile for a 5 yard gain. However, a hold on Howard Cross wiped out the gain and made it 1st and 20 at the 30. A misdirection hand off to Meggett who followed a pulling Reisenberg got the ball to the 22. Hampton would catch a little dump off pass and get drilled by Hollier at the 19 yard line. Now 3rd and 9, with Meggett deep in the backfield, Simms would get blasted by cornerback Bruce Alexander on a blitz and was dropped at the 27 yard line after Meggett missed the blitz pickup. Treadwell could come on form 42 yards out, near the end of his range (Daluiso was the long range kicker), and the former Clemson Tiger put it right down the middle to give the Giants a 17-7 lead.
Daluiso put the ball through the end zone for yet another touchback, giving the ball to Miami at 20.
The Giants came with an overloaded blitz and DeBerg saw Fryar matched up with single coverage on Collins. DeBerg would loft a beautiful pass up the sideline and Fryar would take it away from Collins for a big gain out to the Giants' 42 yard line. However, behind the play, DeBerg would get sandwiched by Hamilton and Miller, not mention a forearm shiver by Miller as they fell to the ground. Hamilton and Miller's helmets would all connect with DeBerg's chin, bloodying him on the play. If this were to happen today, it would look like a flag convention and Hamilton and Miller would easily get a hefty fine by Goodell. DeBerg would get up off the ground and sprint into the locker room to get stitches, while backup Doug Pederson came in at QB. They started with a handoff to Kirby for a 3 yard gain. The next play saw LT come crashing in off right tackle and hit Pederson's arm, knocking the ball loose. As Pederson was going to the ground, the ball bounced up into his gut for the recovery, but Taylor's sack made it 3rd and 11 at the 43. With Pederson in the gun, Howard would again bullrush in from DE and force Pederson up in the pocket and get off a poor pass in the direction of Jackson, which fell incomplete. Hatcher would get off a high punt that was fair caught by Meggett at the 17.
Simms would start out with a pass in the direction of Jackson, who was open but dropped the pass. The Giants would get lucky though as an illegal contact foul on Vincent gave them 5 free yards and a first down. Hampton would get stuffed on a draw on the following play for a short loss. Simms would hit Meggett in the flat, who would get the ball out to the 28 yard line, and was taken down on a nice tackle by Vincent. On 3rd and 5, Simms tried to squeeze the ball in to Calloway on a slant, but it was broken up by JB Brown. Horan came back out to get a punt down to McDuffie, who fielded it at the 20 and weaved his way to the 34, where he would get tackled by special teamer Andre Powell with 2:33 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Pederson was still in at QB with DeBerg in the locker room, started with a pass to Byars in the flat for 7 yards, and he was finally corralled by Raymond and Miller. Kirby would stutter step his way across the line but would get tackled a yard short of the first by Bailey. Now 3rd and 1, Byars as the lone back, took the handoff and was met by Brooks in the hole for what would have been a questionable measurement. However, an offsides penalty on Howard (who was over the ball at NT!) gave the Dolphins a first down. Kirby took a another draw play and made Jackson miss him in the backfield, and got the ball out to the 45 where he was taken down by Collins and Fox. The 3rd quarter would end on a run by Kirby, who spun off a tackle attempt by Brooks and gained just enough for a first down. Coming out to start the 4th quarter, DeBerg came sprinting out of the locker room and right into the huddle, bandaged up with 7 new stitches. His first pass sailed over Fryar's head for an incompletion. On 2nd and 10, with Fox pressuring DeBerg, he got the pass off to Kirby who took the ball to the 37 where Brooks put him down. Now 3rd and 4, DeBerg was in the gun, and a blitzing David Tate inexplicably pulled up on the free run towards the QB, which allowed DeBerg to get a pass off to Kirby, who as he was getting dragged down by LT, stretched the ball out and was just inches short of a first down. Shula decided to go for it, and gave it to his big back Byars, who used his choppy steps to spin off a tackle and gain 3 yards for a first down with Kanavis McGhee draped on him. DeBerg had Byars lined up at WR and threw a pass out to him, but it was knocked away by Brooks. On 2nd and 10, with time to throw, DeBerg got the ball to Kirby, who took it down to the 21 and was stopped just short of a first by Bailey. DeBerg would go to Kirby again on 3rd down, hitting him wide open over the middle and Kirby chugged his way up the field, getting stopped by Jackson and Beamon at the 5 yard line. First and goal at the 5, a handoff to Byars was stacked up by Bailey, Collins, and Hamilton, as as he was fighting for more yards, he took a shot by Fox and looked to be a fumble, but the whistle had blown on forward progress. A 2nd down handoff to Byars got the ball close to the goal line, but a hold on the Dolphins' center Dellenbach set them back to the 14 yard line. Miami was now in a throwing down situation, and the Giants would make them pay
DeBerg, again in the gun, had Hamilton break free late and put pressure right in his face. The veteran QB looked to be throwing towards Jackson or Kirby, but somehow Bailey missed knocking the ball down, and it was picked off by Greg Jackson at the 3 and he took the ball down to the 7 with 10:13 to go in the game.
The Giants began their drive with an inside handoff to Bunch, who plowed over the middle to the 10 yard line where he was met by Cross. On 2nd and 6, a handoff to Tillman around right end, as he followed William Roberts in the hole and got the ball to the 15 yard line and near a first down. On 3rd and 1, Simms again went with the QB sneak behind Kratch to get the first down. With the Dolphins defenders creeping up towards the line, Simms would go deep on the next play, hitting Calloway on a perfect pass down the sidelines, beating Vincent in coverage for a first down to the 47. Hampton would pound the ball into Miami territory on the next play, stopped by former Colt linebacker Cliff Odom. Tillman would get stopped for no gain on 2nd down by Vescey. After a false start on Roberts to make it 3rd and 12, Reeves went conservative and just handed off to Meggett on a draw to gain a handful of yards, with Cox knifing in to tackle him. With a 10 point lead and the clock running, Shula called a time out with 5:38 to go in the game, but the Giants offense did a great job to get the ball off the goal line and kill some clock, not to mention forcing the Dolphins to take their first time out. Horan came on and got off a beauty of a punt, nailing it to the 3 yard line where it bounced backwards and was downed by Jesse Armstead on the 5 yard line.
Horan's effort not only changed field position, but it gave the Giants more breathing room, as the defense would show on the next play
DeBerg was in the shotgun and dropped back into his own end zone to throw. Hamilton overpowered Ron Heller in a one on one matchup and would blast DeBerg in the end zone for a huge safety. In 1993, the Hammer would begin to show what a dominant force he would be on the defensive line, and he started out as a DE before moving over to DT. Hamilton's safety made the score 19-7 and one part of this clip I always enjoyed was Summerall talking about how Reeves should factor in for Coach of the Year honors and Madden noting how well coached they were and they were winning without the best talent. As it would turn out, Reeves would end up winning Coach of the Year in 1993.
Meggett would field the free kick at the 35 yard line, but great coverage by the Dolphins would result in no gain from there. Hampton would take the ball up the gut for a 4 yard gain, but a hold on Jumbo Elliott brought the ball back and set up a 1st and 20. Hampton would take a delayed handoff up the middle where he was hit by Jarvis Williams after a 5 yard gain, and force the Dolphins to take their 2nd time out. The Giants would stay on the ground again, with Hampton going around left end and as he was being run out of bounds, he went to the ground to avoid going out and stopping the clock, which forced the final Miami timeout with 4:27 to go in the game. A 3rd and 10 draw up the middle by Tillman was snuffed out by Cox for no gain as the Giants chose to go conservative to keep the clock moving rather than try for a conversion. Horan's directional kick was again a beauty, fielded near the sidelines by McDuffie at the 9 yard line and he ran clear across the field, with the Giants coverage unit not allowing a lane until he was taken out of bounds on the entire other side by Campbell with 3:30 to go.
Now with a 12 point lead, the Giants knew that it would take 2 TDs for the Dolphins to get ahead of them, so they would go into their prevent defense to force Miami to take underneath throws, stay in bounds and eat up the clock. DeBerg's first pass was intended for Kirby, but was broken up by Armstead. A 2nd down pass to Fryar was good for a first down, though he ended up losing about 5 yards running backwards trying to veer his way out of bounds, but he was stopped by Beamon on the 23 yard line with another (then legal) horsecollar tackle. The clock would go under 3 minutes and a dump off to Kirby was good for 6 yards and he got out of bounds. After a pass to Fryar at the 40 (and again out of bounds), DeBerg again got a pass off to Kirby, who made several moves as he made his way through the secondary to the 43 yard line. Luckily for Miami, a defensive hold on Raymond was declined, but stopped the clock. DeBerg would take a shot at the end zone towards Martin, trying to hit the big play, but it was broken up by Collins (and nearly picked off). DeBerg would move the chains with a pass to McDuffie for a first down and out of bounds at the 30 with 2:22 to go in the game. After an incomplete pass towards Fryar, DeBerg avoided a hard charging pass rush by Miller to dump the ball off to Byars on a perfectly set up screen. With blockers in front, Byars got up a head of steam and took the ball down to the 21 yard line where he was tackled by Jackson and the clock would wind down to the 2 minute warning. Another pass, this time to Martin over the middle got the ball to the 15, however the clock continued to run. Hurrying up to the line, DeBerg dumped the ball off to Byars over the middle at the 10 yard line, where he was more or less mugged by Raymond and Armstead. While he did get a first down, he got into a battle with Armstead on the ground, who was trying to hold him down to kill more clock. Byars, in frustration, first put an elbow in Armstead's ear hole and then actually stomped on his arm as he got up, which drew a 15 yard personal foul. At the end of all of that, there was 1:29 on the clock and the Dolphins were on the 25 yard line. Beamon nearly picked off a 2nd down pass intended for Ingram. On 3rd and 20, the Giants would jump offsides, and DeBerg's free play was picked by Collins in the end zone, but they still gained 5 yards and kept the ball. Now 3rd and 15 with 1:16 to go, DeBerg lobbed a perfect pass to McDuffie in the corner of the end zone, but the former Nitney Lion couldn't hold on to the ball as he went to the ground and it fell incomplete. After a delay of game on Miami, they would have to have prayer answered to keep the game alive on 4th and 20
In one of the shorter Hail Mary's you've seen, that prayer was answered. DeBerg lofted the ball up into the end zone, where it looked like a team photo in the end zone with all the players. Guyton tried to bat the ball down, but it actually ended up getting tipped up into the air and into the waiting arms of Tony Martin for a shocking TD. For all the good work the Giants had done, they were only up by 5 points, 19-14 with 1:01 to go in the game. As a Giants fan, we still would wait for that unexpected collapse. Granted, this was 1993, so the 1997 Vikings Playoff game, the 2002 San Francisco Wild Card game, and the 2010 Eagles came hadn't happened yet. Though the Herm Edwards fumble, and several other previous collapses (such as vs. the 49ers and Jets in 1988) had given the Giants enough scars. Could they find a way to blow this too?
Everyone in Joe Robbie Stadium knew what was coming from Stoyanovich, it was going to be an onside kick. Stoyanovich was able to strike what looked to be a textbook onside kick, hitting the top of the ball, having it take a short bounce and then a huge bounce up over the head of the Giants front hands line, and in this case, Calloway. The ball actually was nearly in the arms of a Miami coverman, but it got away from him, and went into the arms of Ed McCaffery, who secured it and went to the ground. In the scrum for the ball, Bryan Cox apparently got all hot and bothered, and started yelling at the official and was ejected for the remainder of the game and was escorted off the field by assistant coach Mean Joe Greene. Cox didn't miss much, two Simms kneel downs in the victory formation gave the Giants a 9-3 lead and maintained sole possession of first place in the NFC East, ahead of the Cowboys.
Interesting Tidbits/ Post Mortem
- The Giants would go on to win 2 more games after they left Miami with a victory. They beat the Colts by the count of 20-6 at the Meadowlands and then went into New Orleans on a Monday Night and won a ho-hum game 24-14. That would put the Giants record at 11-3, winners of 6 straight games heading into Arizona to play the 5-9 Cardinals. Meanwhile, Dallas was fighting to keep pace, sitting at 10-4, a game behind New York, as they rallied from the Leon Lett play and won 3 straight of their own. The Cowboys were matched up with a brutally bad Redskins team, playing them in Texas Stadium. In order for the Giants to win the NFC East, they had to beat the Cardinals and hope for a Cowboys loss. If Dallas won their game, the Cardinals game was essentially meaningless for the Giants, as it would set up a winner take all game the following week at Giants Stadium, since the Cowboys had already previous beaten the Giants. The Giants would get out to a 6-0 lead at halftime in their game. However, the Cowboys, after falling behind 3-0, would turn on the after burners and dismantle the Redskins, going up 21-3 at the half and made it 28-3 early in the 3rd quarter, on route to a 38-3 blowout. The Giants, who saw the score and realized the Cardinal game meant nothing, had the air go out of their sails and would end up losing the game 17-6. That made their record 11-4, tied with Dallas, going into their fateful final game, which the Cowboys would win thanks to Emmitt Smith and a FG in OT by Eddie Murray to win 16-13, giving Dallas homefield and putting the Giants in the Wild Card to host the Vikings.
- The Giants and Dolphins didn't have much of a history playing each other. Amazingly, this was actually the first time the Giants ever played against the Dolphins in Miami. Their first game came in 1972, when the Giants (obviously) lost to the only NFL team to go Undefeated, losing at New York by the score of 23-13 to the Don Shula led Dolphins.
- This was the Giants first trip to Joe Robbie Stadium. They were supposed to have played the Dolphins at the new Joe Robbie, which would have been their first game there ever, after leaving the Orange Bowl after the 1986 season. However, the NFL Players strike in 1987 after Week 2 resulted in all the Week 3 games being cancelled, as the owners began putting together their replacement/scab teams, who suited up for Week 4. Technically the first game played at Joe Robbie was a 42-0 win by the replacement Dolphins over the replacement KC Chiefs, with the first TD scored by the immortal Ricky Isom on a 6 yard run. The first "real" game played was a 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills on a Scott Norwood 27 yard FG in OT. Norwood would obviously come to be known world wide for another kick, also in the state of Florida some 3+ years later in Super Bowl XXV, which he would miss wide to the right from 47 yards out. And interestingly enough, act as the basis for the plotline of the movie Ace Ventura Pet Detective as kicker Ray Finkle who missed the field goal to win the Super Bowl as a member of.......the Dolphins.
- The only other meeting previous to this one was in 1990 in Week 3, when the Giants beat the Dan Marino led Dolphins by the score of 20-3 and shut Marino down, limiting him to 14-30, 115 yards and 2 INTs, no TDs, in dominating the game and holding the Dolphins offense to a mere 158 total yards. After the game, Marino would call the Giants defense the best 3-4 defense he ever faced.
- The only other game played in Miami, came in 1996, with Dave Brown at QB, would go in and beat Dan Marino by the score of 17-7. This would end up being Dan Reeves final win as head coach of the Giants, in a lame duck season which the Giants would finish 6-10, and Reeves would leave to take over the Falcons job while the Giants would hire Jim Fassel as their coach in 1997.
- Technically, the Dolphins were the "home" team in the 2007 matchup in London, England, held at Wembley Stadium. In an uninspiring game, on a rainy and sloppy field, with Cleo Lemon at QB, the Giants would win by the score of 13-10 and could have set US/British relations back to 1812 levels for how God awful the game was. At the least the Brits in attendance could say they saw the future 2007 Super Bowl champs in the Giants...and the 1-15 Dolphins.
- There wasn't a whole lot of offense in this game, but one guy who stood out was TE Aaron Pierce. Pierce's 54 yard catch and run would be the longest of the season for him, and the longest of his career.
- You can't talk about Aaron Pierce, a 3rd round pick, without talking about Derek Brown, a 1st round pick in the same draft. This was a classic case of George Young's belief in cluster drafting. If you have a need, since players are ultimately a crap shoot either way, you draft several prospects at the position and let them play it out to see who is better. A sound strategy prior to a salary cap (and ultimately one of Young's undoings as the cap took hold after 1993). Pierce's best catch went for 54 yards. Brown's best effort? 14 yards a few weeks later in the loss at Arizona.
- Some other Brown vs. Pierce numbers?
- Pierce- played 6 seasons with the Giants. 86 catches, 927 yards and 5 TDs. Hardly great numbers, but he gave the team versatility as an H-Back and TE.
- Brown- called the next Mark Bavaro as a TE out of Notre Dame. Infamously got his facemask broken by LT in his first practice at camp after his hold out and was looked on a soft the rest of his time with the team. He would play 3 seasons with the Giants. 11 catches for 87 yards and 0 TDs. The very definition of a bust.
- Derek Brown would eventually have the Giants give up on him. They left him exposed in the 1995 Expansion Draft, and would be picked by Tom Coughlin and his Jacksonville Jaguars. He would eventually lose his job there to Pete Mitchell, Coughlin's former TE at Boston College, and a guy who would eventually sign with the Giants in 1999 and play 2 seasons. Brown would last 5 more seasons, playing with the Jags, Raiders, and Cardinals before retiring after the 1999 season.
- While the Giants were able to somewhat spring board from this loss and fight for the best record in the conference, the Dolphins were not so lucky. The loss dropped them to 9-3 and then the wheels came off for the Fish. They would lose their final 5 games of the season, including a gut wrenching 1 point loss to the Steelers. Going into the final weekend, they played a game at Foxboro against the 4-11 Bill Parcells' led Patriots. A win would put them at 10-6 and in as a Wild Card. A loss would cost them a spot due to tie breakers with the Steelers and Broncos. In a back and forth game, the Dolphins would tie it on a late Pete Stoyanovich FG from 24 yards out to send it to OT. However, a touchdown pass from 36 yards out by Drew Bledsoe to Michael Timpson would cap off a 329 yard, 4 TD effort by the #1 overall pick as a rookie out of Washington State and knock Miami out of the playoffs.
- Steve DeBerg was the Dolphins QB for this game, and he didn't even start the season with the team. They began with Dan Marino, however a torn achillies tendon in a 24-14 win over Cleveland in early October ended the Hall of Famer's season. His backup QB was the young lefty Scott Mitchell, a young player in Marino's shadow. Mitchell would eventually himself get hurt and turn the job over to DeBerg, who had signed with the team in November.
- DeBerg had an amazing 18 year career, playing for 6 different teams. DeBerg was known, for better or worse, as a good QB who was always the mentor for a young QB with a bigger name who would supplant him. He started with the 49ers and played there for 3 years before losing his job to Joe Montana. He moved on to the Broncos, playing 3 seasons there, but would eventually turn the job over to a rookie named John Elway, who would lead Denver to a 9-7 season, and a spot in the Wild Card in an eventual loss at Seattle. With Elway now clearly the man for the Broncos, it was time for DeBerg to move again. This time he headed to the Southeast and to the Tampa Bay Bucs. With the Buccaneers, DeBerg would last 4 seasons, and be challenged by not one, but two high profile QBs. The top pick in the USFL Supplimental Draft, Steve Young out of BYU and the LA Express. And then by #1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde. Essentially, in the first 10 years of his career, he'd be bypassed by 3 Hall of Famers (Montana, Elway, Young) and a guy in Testaverde who would throw for over 46,000 yards and 275 career TDs. He wasn't exactly losing his job to Dave Brown here.
- DeBerg would actually reunite with Dan Reeves, for whom he played with the Broncos, and joined Reeves' coaching staff as QB coach with the Giants in 1995 and 1996, working with the young QBs in Dave Brown and Danny Kanell. DeBerg would be let go after the 1996 season when Reeves' staff was dismissed.
- Amazingly, DeBerg wasn't finished with his playing career. He came out of retirement in 1998, to again join forces with Reeves. In Atlanta, Chris Chandler was the clear #1 QB. His backup QB was former Redskin Mark Rypien, however a family emergency with Rypien's young son forced him to leave the team after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that would eventually take his life. Reeves, needing a veteran backup, had DeBerg reach out to him and signed the 44 year old backup QB and had him make the team in what would turn out to be a Super Bowl run by the Falcons. Atlanta's only Super Bowl appearance, and DeBerg's only Super Bowl appearance as well.
- Tony Martin, who caught the Hail Mary towards the end of the game to make it closer, was more of a bit player on this Dolphins team, behind Fryar and McDuffie, mainly just a deep threat. Martin would leave the Dolphins after the season and blossom with the Chargers at age 29. In 4 seasons there, he put up the following lines (catches/yards/TDs)
- 1994: 50/885/7
- 1995: 90/1224/6
- 1996: 85/1171/14. With the 14 TDs leading the NFL and he made the Pro Bowl
- 1997: 63/904/6
- Martin would leave San Diego and sign for 1 season in Atlanta, where he would join Reeves and DeBerg, and help the Falcons make the Super Bowl, posting a season of 66/1181/6 at age 33. Martin would then return back to Miami. He kept on putting up productive numbers at WR, in 1999 he again went over 1000 yards (67/1037/5) and would play one more season with the Dolphins. He would finish his career with the Falcons in 2001 at age 36.
- It may have been the Giants vs. Dolphins, but it sure felt a lot like Philadelphia. There were a number of former and future Eagles who played in this game including:
- Keith Jackson
- Keith Byars
- Ron Heller
- Irving Fryar
- Mark Ingram
- Mark Higgs
- Jeff Dellenbach
- Troy Vincent
- Mike Golic
- James Saxon
- Doug Pederson
- Jesse Campbell
- Greg Jackson
- Izel Jenkins