Monday, May 28, 2012

What is this Blog about?

As an avid Giants fan (season tickets have been in my family since the 1950s and I've been going since 1987), I have collected a great number of Giants related items.  Books, pictures, autographs, jerseys, tee shirts, magnets, etc.  You name it, if it had a Giants logo on it, I probably have it, or something close to it.

Growing up as a fan in the 1980s, there was no internet around, no YouTube, no, no Giants fan sites such as for me to keep up with the Giants on a daily basis.  I started a practice back in the mid 1980s to tape Monday Night games (because I had to get to sleep to go to school in the morning) and from there, tape the games that I went to in person, so I can go back and watch it again to see if I missed anything.  The first game that I did this was the 1987 Sunday Night game vs. the Patriots (which I believe was the first NFL game on ESPN).  However, I would watch the game and then tape over it with another game.  At some point, around 1989, I stopped doing that and just kept the games on tape.  I would go back and watch and re-watch the game, particularly during the off-seasons when there was no Giants news/information available.

For 20+ years, these tapes sat at my parents' house, and luckily for me, my room growing up was more or less left untouched as I moved out, including my stack of Giants tapes.  For many years, I've wanted to go back, get those tapes, and convert them to a digital format so I can easily watch them on demand.  With the NFL lockout last Spring, I finally decided to do something about it, and collected more or less all the tapes (I know a few are missing...some might have been thrown out, much to my chagrin).  I spent several months converting the tapes, and was able to recover some 54 games between 1989 and 2001 and save them down on a media sever at my home.

Now, what to do with all of these old games?  Well, at some point, fans always like to go back and talk about games that they watched/went to, etc.  So, I had an idea to take these old games, and using my research background, plus my own personal accounts/memories, go back and do a review of the game, discuss what was leading up to the game, how the game played out with highlights, and now with the benefit of hindsight, see what it meant in the grand scheme, for the players, coaches, and organization itself.

What games are available for review?

As I noted, I have been able to find 54 of them.  I know that I have more somewhere in my old home, but as of May 2012, I haven't been able to find them.  Here is the current library available:


Giants @ Redskins
Giants @ Broncos
Giants v. Raiders
Giants v. Vikings
Giants v. Cowboys


Giants @ Cardinals
Giants @ Colts
Giants @ Patriots
Giants @ Rams
Giants @ Redskins
Giants v. Redskins
Giants v. Cardinals
Giants v. Cowboys
Giants v. Dolphins
Giants v. Eagles
Giants v. Lions
Giants v. Vikings
1990 Pro Bowl


Giants @ Cardinals
Giants @ Steelers
Giants v. Cardinals
Giants v. Cowboys
Giants v. Oilers


Giants v. Cardinals
Giants v. Packers


Giants @ Bears
Giants v. Eagles
Giants v. Vikings (Wild Card)


Giants @ Cardinals
Giants v. Eagles


Giants @ Dolphins
Giants v. Cowboys
Giants v. Jets
Giants v. Vikings


Giants @ Cowboys
Giants @ Eagles
Giants @ Lions
Giants @ Redskins
Giants v. Bengals
Giants v. Cardinals
Giants v. Eagles
Giants v. Redskins


Giants @ Cardinals
Giants @ Chargers
Giants v. Broncos
Giants v. Cardinals
Giants v. Chiefs
Giants v. Eagles
Giants v. Redskins


Giants @ Falcons
Giants @ Redskins
Giants v. Jacksonville


Giants v. Seahawks
Giants v. Saints

Hey, all those games are ones which the Giants won

Technically, they are all games which the Giants did not lose.  I have the famed 1997 tie at Washington, when Gus Frerotte knocked himself out when he head butted the wall after scoring a TD.  I am a Giants fan, I don't want to go back and wallow in a loss.  The closest one that I had some part of, was actually the 1992 home game vs. the Cowboys, when the Giants fell behind 34-0 and closed the gap to 34-28 and for a brief moment the score board operator flashed "Giants 35-Cowboys 34".  But it was taped over with something else.

What else did you have in there?

I kept a number of HBO Inside the NFLs as well, from 1986-1991.  Again, I know I'm missing a bunch from 1987 and 1988 and hope to recover it someday.  I also have the Giants Championship videos from 1986 and 1990.  And a few odds and ends of NFL yearbooks, All Madden teams in 1989 and 1990, and other All Pro specials.

What happened to the games in the 2000s?

Technology happened.  Up until around 2002/2003, I had to tape all my Giants games on VHS.  But around that time is when TiVo showed up and changed the way that I was able to review the games.  However, unfortunately, for a long stretch, I was limited to the space on my DVR to hold games and had to erase/over write them and didn't have the tech tools to pull them off on to an external hard drive.  I was able to get this rectified in 2010 and have every game from 2011 available (and in HD).  However, as and got much better at serving video, not to mention the YouTube community, this became less of an issue. 

How long will it take you to publish new games/updates?

As much as I'd love to say that my primary job is to do this and would be able to make a career out of this, unfortunately, that is not the case.  At this point, this is something that I'm doing in my spare time.  My goal is to be able to produce a game review every 2 weeks, but I'm not sure how that will go.

Can I request a review?

Sure, drop an email to and put it out there.  I'll see what I can do.  I'll try to put up a publishing schedule and do my best to keep it updated.

I have some old tapes, can I donate them for a review?

I don't have those logistics worked out yet, but feel free to email me at and maybe we can work it out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1997 Giants @ Eagles

Week 14

The Setup:
In going back through the archives of old Giants games that I had saved and taped on VCR, it is obvious to pick out the favorite games which came in the playoffs.  It is particularly easy to do so in from the 1986 or 1990 Championship seasons, and even the 2000 Super Bowl run.  But every so often, there are some games that the Giants would play in non-championship seasons, but were nonetheless enjoyable as a fan to see them take the field and win a big regular season game, particularly on the road.  One of my personal favorites was the Giants win in Philly in 1997, when the Eagles made their typical late season run, and were threatening to ruin the good vibes brought about by the Giants resurgence under Jim Fassel, an offense led by Danny Kanell and Charles Way, and a big play/turnover happy defensive unit coached by John Fox with a number of up and coming stars (Strahan, Armstead, Hamilton, and Sehorn in particular).  This game, played on 12/7/97, was particularly meaningful.  The Giants were in a dogfight for first place in the NFC East, as they rebounded from a 1-3 start to rip off 5 wins in their next 6 games.  However, a tie in Washington (the infamous Gus Ferrotte headbutt game) and a poor showing at home against Tampa Bay which resulted in 20-8 loss had the Giants reeling.  It got so bad that entering the game against the Eagles, Jim Fassel put Kanell’s starting position on the line and said that a poor game would bring Dave Brown back behind center.

Meanwhile, the Eagles season was rescued from an abyss, as they started 4-6, struggling with Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete as their QBs.  Enter 25 year old Bobby Hoying, the Eagles 3rd round pick out of Ohio State University in 1996.  Hoying immediately turned things around for the Birds, going 2-0-1 in his starts, throwing for 835 yards, with 6 TDs and 1 INT.  Heading into the Giants game, Hoying was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, beating Cincinnati 44-42, posting 313 yards and 4 TDs, including a game winning drive late in the 4th quarter for the win, which had the typically cynical Eagle fans chanting “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby” at the Vet.

Ultimately, despite the seemingly weak records, the 7-5-1 Giants @ the 6-6-1 Eagles was for first place in the NFC East and control of the teams own playoff destiny.

The Game Highlights

For the game itself, there was your air of anticipation of a big December game between division rivals, with the NFC East lead at stake.  The Philly fans were all believers in Hoying, hanging signs that said “Hoy Wonder” at the Vet.  After the Giants were forced to punt after their first possession, came one of those moments which really defines a game:

This play set the tone for the game and was an Emporer Has No Clothes event for the Eagles and their fans in relation to Hoying.  It also was a defining moment for Jessie Armstead, who began to come into his own in 1996, but by 1997 was putting up a Pro Bowl season.  In this case, the 1997 game at Philly was a moment which Giants fans had not seen from a linebacker since the 1980s/early 1990s with LT, Banks, Pepper, etc. making an impact play in a big game.  For Hoying it was his first real wake up call in the NFL. And a few other odds and ends on this play in the highlights:

  • The silence of the crowd once Armstead scored.  There is nothing better than the sound of a hushed crowd in Philly.
  • The highlight showed 2 young members of Ray Rhodes’ staff, Offensive Coordinator Jon Gruden and QB coach Sean Payton.  Both would go on to win Super Bowls with the Bucs and Saints, respectively.  The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.  Needed to get that in.
  • We were also treated to a young Joe Buck, on the second FOX team with Bill Maas (who is a Matt Millen sound-alike).  Back in 1997, Madden and Summerall were still the lead team.  Buck, as was his way, understated the call on Armstead’s pick 6.  Fairly typical.

But, with the Giants defense clamping down on Philly’s offense, Danny Kanell went to work...unfortunately, for the benefit of the Eagles.

Now, I don’t know what to say about this play.  We’ve seen it before on some blooper reels, when a QB just drops the ball going back to pass.  Granted, Kanell played his college ball at Florida State, so it’s possible that he wasn’t used to the cold weather in his first meaningful December game played in the North East.  Charles Dimry screwing up the easy TD return only delayed the inevitable, a 1 yard TD plunge from resident Giants killer Ricky Watters to tie the game at 7 all.

However, in this game, John Fox’s defense was not going to let the Giants offensive ineptitude hold the team back.  The Giants unit was embarassed the previous week vs. the Buccaneers, giving up 120 yards rushing to Warrick Dunn.  They went on the attack vs. Hoying, as seen here in what can only be described as a jail break sack and forced fumble by Scott Galyon and recovery by Hamilton

Now, what occured after the Galyon sack was another player who rose to the occasion and showed some big game pedigree, that would be rookie Tiki Barber.  Rodney Hampton was not playing, nursing a bad knee which sidelined him for much of 1997.  Former BBI favorite Tyrone Wheatley was the starter, but he put up a putrid 20 yards on 5 carries, including 2 fumbles, before leaving the game with a leg injury, which would also end his season.  The Giants running back situation was not deep.  Charles Way, the fullback was one of their big “weapons”, Barber was a situational third down back, and the other RB was Erric Pegram (a returner).  So Barber had to carry the load, and that is exactly what he did on this day.  Barber was a factor in both the running game and passing game, and caught the go ahead TD from Kanell, coming out of the backfield as Chris Calloway stayed in to block an on rushing Dawkins.

Up 14-7, the Giants defense continued to pound on Hoying and the Eagles offense.  Later in the 2nd quarter, Bernard Holsey, who was mostly an interior lineman and perhaps best known for accidentally ending Brian Williams career when he poked his eye in camp, was playing at DE for the injured Chad Bratzke.  And this sequence was wonderful to watch

I loved everything about this.  Holsey’s bull rush, sack and forced fumble, recovered by Strahan.  On a big defensive turnover, particularly from mid field and in, I always want the Giants to go for the jugular and take a shot at that back breaking TD.  And more often than not, the Giants do not do that.  Well, in this case, Jim Fassel decided to turn Kanell loose, and hit the then rookie speedster David Patten for a 40 yard TD and a 21-7 lead.  

The half ended with both teams missing long FGs late, Daluiso missing a 50 yarder and Boniol hitting the crossbar on a 49 yarder.  But the defense was star of the first half show, collecting 3 turnovers and 4 sacks.

In the second half, it became pretty clear that Hoying was not going to do anything against the Giants defense.  In typical Giants/Eagle fashion, it was the Eagles defense would would make the big play.

Arrrrrggghhhhh...Kanell strikes again.  And it was a young Brian Dawkins who made the play, picking off Kanell’s 3rd down pass intended for Calloway and took it 64 yards to the House.  Bonus points for a frustrated Amani Toomer, wearing #89, for trying to knock the ball away after Dawkins scored.  So the Eagles were now back in the game, down 21-14 thanks to Kanell’s turnover.  

But just when the Eagles tried to get momentum, the Defense struck again

A blitzing Phillippi Sparks forced Hoying to heave one up, and Armstead made yet another atheletic play to pick it off and stay in bounds.  While the Giants did not score on this play, the Giants kept the Eagles from capitalizing on the Dawkins pick.

By the 4th quarter, the Giants running game started to take its toll on the Eagles.  Way and Barber were hitting several nice runs, and then came the knock out.

Barber’s 42 yard gallop and 2 plays later, the Calloway TD put the Giants ahead 28-14 and didn’t look back.  Barber’s play was a nicely drawn up fake reverse, and a great block by Way to allow Tiki to turn the corner.  Calloway’s TD meanwhile was a nice bit of tight rope walking, staying in bounds, and a good pass from Kanell.

The Eagles were pretty much cooked after that.  They turned the ball over on a 4th down at the Giants 37.  Hoying threw another pick, this time to Percy Ellsworth when Watters gave up on the play.  And lastly a poor 19 yard punt by Tommy Hutton set the ball up on Eagles 26 which set up a Daluiso 19 yard FG to make it 31-14.  The Giants granted the Eagles a true garbage time TD, this one a 72 yarder to Irving Fryar, when Jason Sehorn tried to get in on the Hoying action and mistimed his jump, allowing Fryar to make the play.  An onside kick was covered by Charles Way and the Giants left Philly with an impressive 31-21 win.  And if not for 2 bad plays by Kanell, and a garbage TD, this one could well have been 31-0.  

Interesting Tidbits/ the Post Mortem

There were several take aways from this game.  First of all, the Giants defense was dominant.  They held the high scoring Eagles to 256 yards (which includes Fryar’s 72 yarder), and collected 5 turnovers and 4 sacks.   Keying the defense was Armstead, who took over as a leader on the defense and had a monsterous game, winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week: 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs, 1 TD and ushered in his first Pro Bowl selection.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense rolled up 208 yards rushing, with Charles Way getting 18 carries for 76 yards, and Tiki had his first 100 yard game of his career, 21 carries for 114 yards (including 4 catches for 28 and 1 TD).  In many ways, this game was really the start of seeing a leader emerge in Armstead on the defensive side and Tiki on the offensive side, which culminated in the 2000 Super Bowl appearance.

The bloom was off the rose for Bobby Hoying.  While his offensive line was no help, he was horrific: 16-35, 209, 1 TD, 3 INT, 4 sacks, 2 fumbles.  (again, if not for a garbage time TD, his numbers would be 15-34, 137 yards, 0 TDs).  And after this game, the Eagles and Hoying never recovered.  The Eagles lost their last 2 games to finish at 6-9-1.  The following year, Hoying was given the starting job coming out of camp, but the Eagles started 0-5, and Hoying was benched after Week 3.  In all, Hoying only won 1 more start for the Eagles, a 10-9 win over Detroit.  The Eagles finished 3-13, and Rhodes was fired and replaced by Andy Reid and the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb from the ‘Cuse.  Hoying was traded to the Raiders, he threw 7 passes over the next 2 seasons and was out of the league by 2001.  And it all started with the Giants beat down in 1997.

On the other side of the fence is Kanell, who was drafted in the 4th round in 1996, after Hoying.  Kanell was credited a great deal for the Giants turning their 1997 season around, but the reality was that Kanell singlehandedly kept the Eagles in this game.  If not for his misplays, the Giants blow the doors off Philly.  Kanell, was credited for having “it”, that intangible for winning.  The “it” was more likely the fact that he wasn’t Dave Brown and the Giants manage to win games with him at QB, not because he was the QB.  His numbers were pretty good: 14-27, 153 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT.  But the Giants defense and Tiki Barber won this game.

At the start of this article, I noted that it is always great to see the Giants take the field and win a game on the road.  However, since 1983 (my bench mark in most cases, being the beginning of the Parcells era which spans through to today with Coughlin as one of his coaching branches), the Giants have found themselves playing in a road game vs. a divisional opponent with both teams having playoff berths at stake within the last 3 games of the season only 9 times:

1984: Week 15: @ St. Louis- 31-21 loss
1985: Week 15: @ Dallas- 28-21 loss
1986: Week 14: @ Washington- 24-14 win- Won NFC East/Super Bowl XXI
1991: Week 15 @ Washington- 34-17 loss
1994: Week 15 @ Philly- 16-13 Win
1997: Week 14: @ Philly- 31-21 Win- Won NFC East
2001: Week 15: @ Philly - 24-21 Loss (Lambuth Special)
2005: Week 15 @ Washington- 35-20 Loss
2008: Week 14: @ Dallas- 20-8 Loss
Overall Record: 3-6

So in nearly 30 years, the Giants have won in this scenario 3 times (twice in Philly).  Interesting? Weird?  

Speaking of winning vs. Philly.  Going back to 1983, take a wild guess at which Giants coach has the best record against the Eagles during his Giants tenure.... Survey says!:

Fassel: 9-5/ 1-0 post season: 10-5 combined: .667
Parcells: 9-7: .563
Reeves: 4-4: .500
Coughlin: 7-9 / 0-2 post season: 7-11 combined : .389
Handley: 0-4: .000

That’s right, standing on top of the heap for Eagles ownage is Jimbo.  Fassel started out by winning his first 9 games against the Eagles (including the playoffs).  Parcells also started out quickly: starting 8-2, before Buddy Ryan’s teams began to get the Giants number in the late 1980s.  Coughlin still has work to do with the Eagles, they have been a thorn in his side, including knocking his team out of the playoffs twice (thrice if you factor in the Jackson punt return/choke in 2010).  Handley was who we thought he was.

Other short tidbits:

  • Watching Barber carry the ball away from his body was very noticeable as a rookie.  Everyone heard the story of Barber, known as a fumbler, and then took to Coughlin’s coaching and held the ball “high and tight” and enjoyed the most productive years of his career.
  • The Eagles had quite the stable of RBs in 1997.  Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner as their primary backs.  Future 1000 yard rusher Duce Staley was returning kicks for them in that season.
  • The Giants WRs in the game vs. the Eagles: Calloway, Patten, inconsistent Toomer, and Kevin Alexander.  Yikes....
  • This was Ty Wheatley’s last start for the Giants.  In 1998, he only played in 5 games, Gary Brown assumed the main RB duties and Wheatley was traded to Oakland in 1999, where he actually managed to rush for 936 yards in 1999 and 1046 in 2000.