In the 1990 season, the NFL was really dominated by two NFC heavyweights. The Threepeat hunting 49ers and the Giants. The Niners would start off their season, as two time defending champs and would come out of the gate at 10-0. The Giants would have their own answer for the Niners, not only going 4-0 in the Pre-season, but also starting out at 10-0 in the regular season as well, easily their best record to start a season in team history. The Giants were a team that was dominant as well in this stretch. In 9 of the 10 games in this streak, the Giants never trailed at any point in the 4th quarter. The only time they did trail was in one of their most unlikely matchups, a week 7 game against the 2-3 Phoenix Cardinals.
When you go back and look at the 1990 schedule, the Giants had a very odd quirk in there. In their first 7 games of the season, they played 6 games against NFC East opponents. By the time the Giants had met up with the Cardinals for their week 7 matchup (they had a bye already in week 5), the Giants had already beaten the Eagles at Giants Stadium in the season opener and also swept the season series with Dallas. The week prior to the Cardinals game, the Giants won a typical slugfest with the Joe Gibbs' Redskins in RFK. In the week after the Cardinals, the Giants were going to face the Redskins again to complete the season series. Parcells' team was in position, if they beat the Cardinals, they would have their rematch with the Redskins and a sweep there would give the Giants a 7-0 record, a massive 3 game lead in the NFC East, which was actually 4 games considering they would have swept Washington and for all intents and purposes, end the NFC East race before mid-season.
Clearly, one would think the Cardinals would be a pushover. The Giants were a 13.5 point favorite over the Cards. The Meadowlands was a house of horrors for the Cardinals leading up to this game. They hadn't won a game at Giants Stadium since 1980, when Jim Hart was their QB and they relied on 168 yards and 2 TDs from their 2nd year running back named Ottis Anderson. In fact, since 1984, the Cardinals were not only beaten, but got subsequently less and less competitive
1984- 16-10 loss
1985- 27-17 loss
1986- 27-7 loss (Giants would set a then team record of 9 sacks of Neil Lomax and the Cards only TD was on a Stump Mitchell late halfback option pass to Roy Green)
1987- 30-7 loss (Giants first win of 1987 after starting 0-5, and Cards were down 30-0 until a late TD)
1988- 44-7 loss
1989- 35-7 loss
The 1990 Phoenix Cardinals were in yet another rebuild. This time, they hired former Redskins assistant coach Joe Bugel to take over after a 5-11 season in 1989, which resulted in Gene Stallings' midseason firing after a 2-0 start. The Cardinals handed their QB duties over to Timm Rosenbach, who was a supplemental #1 pick out of Washington State in 1989 and had gotten the job from a caretaker in Gary Hogeboom. The Cardinals also found a gem in the 7th round running back Johnny Johnson. Phoenix started very inauspiciously, losing their opener to the Redskins 31-0. But they raised eyebrows the following week by going into Philly and beating the Eagles 23-21, despite falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter. The Cards would drop their next two games in blowout losses at New Orleans and home to the Redskins. After a bye week, the Cards blew out the Cowboys 20-3, holding them to 100 yards in total offense and Troy Aikman to 61 yards passing.
So the Cardinals entered the game and there should have been some warning signs there for the Giants. The Cardinals were the NFL's #2 rushing offense behind Johnson at this time. Their defense shut down an up and coming Dallas offense the week before, and they did beat the Eagles at the Vet, something the Giants had not done themselves since 1987. With the Giants attention on the Redskins the following week, and their history of blowing out the Cardinals at Giants Stadium, this game should be a walk in the park, or would it turn out to be your typical trap game?
The Giants took the field on a picture perfect mid October weather game. 57 degrees and sun for a 4 PM game time start. The Giants won the toss and Al Del Greco came on to kickoff to Mark Ingram, who returned the ball to the 30. Phil Simms, at the time was the NFL top rated passer entering this game, and he had a re-worked offensive line, with Eric Moore shifting over from guard to play left tackle, as Jumbo Elliott was out with a broken leg. Their first play of the game was a pitch to OJ Anderson who dragged Cardinals for 5 yards. OJ would follow that up with a 3 yard run up the middle and set up a 3rd and 2. The Giants would stay on the ground, giving a shotgun draw handoff to Rodney Hampton, however, he was short of the first down with 4th and less than 1 to go, the Giants brought out Sean Landeta to punt
Well, looky here. Inside their own 40, Parcells called for a fake punt. Bringing Hostetler in as the protect man, the Giants shifted out of punt formation, with Landeta shifting out wide. Hostetler would pitch the ball back to Lee Rouson who would run for just enough to get the first down. This said a few things to me in this game. First, it showed Parcells confidence in his special teams unit to convert. It showed confidence in his defense in case they didn't convert. But also was probably a wake up call by Parcells with such an aggressive call so early in the game in case he was looking at a trap game.
Now at the 42 and Simms back on the field, the Giants called a draw play to Meggett who ran for 9 yards and got the ball into Phoenix territory. The Giants would stay on the ground again, this time a hand off to Mo Carthon for a first down. The Giants would run their first pass on the next play, but Howard Cross ran the wrong route and the pass fell incomplete. Simms would drop back on the next play and this time complete his first pass to Mark Bavaro for 13 yards and a first down to the 34. OJ would take the next handoff and burst around the end for 28 yards and got the ball down inside the 5 yard line. After Cards safety Mike Zordich stacked up Anderson on first down, OJ would cash in vs. his former team on the next play
Anderson took the draw up the middle and rumbled for 4 yards and just got the ball over the plane of the end zone for a 7-0 lead. Now, going back and looking at this play, OJ's knee was dangerously close to being down before the ball crossed the goal line. In 1990, instant replay was still a bit of a mess, and in 2013 the play would have obviously been reviewed (since it was a scoring play), and quite possibly would have been overturned. But at the time, no replay, Bahr booted the extra point, the Giants cash in for a TD on their opening drive and it looked to be just the start of yet another blowout of the Cardinals.
Bahr's kickoff was short and returned by the Cardinals out to the 28 yard line. Johnson began with a big gain of 28 yards on first down around right end to the Giants 44. He ran around the side vacated by Carl Banks, who had surgery on his wrist and was in the hospital and was replaced by Johnnie Cooks. Rosenbach was pressured on the next play by a blitz up the middle by Pepper and threw an incompletion. Johnson followed that up with a 4 yard gain before he was stopped by Steve DeOssie. On 3rd and 6, the Giants blitz was picked up perfectly by the Cardinals and Rosenbach hit former 49er Derek Flagler for 16 yards and a first down. Now at the 24, LT would push the Cards TE Walter Reeves into the backfield and drop Johnson for a 4 yard loss. Rosenbach would get 7 yards back on a pass to JT Smith. Now on 3rd and 7, Rosenbach threw to Roy Green, but he was nailed by Everson Walls and dropped the ball. That set up a Del Greco 38 yard FG to cut the Giants lead to 7-3.
Meggett would return the kickoff out of the end zone and got it out to the 33. The Giants first play was a screen pass to OJ, but it was snuffed out by Garth Jax for a 2 yard loss. On second down, OJ would take a handoff and spin his way to the 38. In the shotgun on 3rd down, Simms was swallowed up by Ken Harvey on the blitz and forced a Landeta punt which was returned by Via Sikahema to the 24.
The Cards first down play was a pass attempt by Rosenbach, who couldn't find anyone open, so he scrambled for a couple of yards before being forced out of bounds by Cooks. Johnson was stopped for a short gain on 2nd down by Marshall and Walls and Rosenbach was sacked on third down by Erik Howard, which forced a Rich Camarillo punt, which sailed 56 yards and was returned by Meggett out to the 23.
With 1:47 to go in the first quarter, the Giants would begin with short run by OJ and followed up with another Anderson run for 4 yards. On 3rd and 6, Simms went back in the shotgun
This was a nasty looking hit on Simms, as he was high lowed by the Cardinals. Harvey beat Moore on the pass rush and was pushed into Simms' legs/ankles. Meanwhile a blitz by defensive back Cedric Mack was not picked up and Mack nailed Simms up high. Simms, who got off an incomplete pass to avoid the sack, lay motionless on the Giants turf as Jeff Hostetler quickly got loose. Simms would get up and walk off the field gingerly, as well as get smelling salts on the sidelines, which could mean he also got a concussion in addition to an ankle injury which would send him to the bench for the remainder of the day.
Landeta punted the ball away and Sikahema returned it to the 30. The Cards finished the quarter with a holdling penatly on Center Bill Lewis, which erased a 5 yard Johnson run. Now 1st and 20, Johnson started with a 3 yard run before he has hit by Eric Dorsey and Pepper. Another run by Johnson was again stopped by Dorsey at the 26. Now 3rd and 14, Rosenbach was under pressure on a blitz by Dave Duerson, playing as a nickle linebacker, and under threw Roy Green and forced another Cardinal punt which was returned by Meggett out to the 37.
Hostetler came out and took over as the Giants QB with Simms out. Hoss's first play was a rollout pass to Bavaro for 19 yards and a first down to the Cards 44 yard line. The next play was an 8 yard run by Lewis Tillman, sprung thanks to a strong Carthon lead block. However, the Giants narrowly averted disaster on the next play, Carthon was smacked by Freddie Joe Nunn and fumbled the ball. Hoss alerted jumped on the loose ball at the 34 and maintained a 3rd and short (despite a short review to see if Carthon actually fumbled..which he clearly did). OJ would convert on the next play, turning the corner and dragging Zordich for nearly 10 yards down to the 25. Back to back runs by Tillman would get the ball to the 20 yard line. Now 3rd and long, Hoss would take the snap from shotgun and scramble ahead for close to the first down but was shy by half a foot. Parcells decided against trying a Bahr FG and sent out his 3 TE alignment (Bavaro, Cross, and Bob Mrosko) and look to push the undersized Cards defense around for a first down.
Hostetler took the snap and attempted a sneak, however the Cardinals Kani Kauahi, an offensive lineman by trade but put in short yardage by the Cards coaches, stacked up Bart Oates, Lonnie Young jumped over the top of the pile and the Giants got pushed backwards as they failed on 4th down.
The Cardinals got the ball at their own 14. NJ native and member of a family filled with Giants fans, Ricky Proehl took a reverse and was one on one in the open field with LT in the backfield. While normally a death sentence in this situation, LT was still making his way back from a hamstring injury back in Week 3 on the last play of the game vs. Miami and LT couldn't keep contain, allowing Proehl to turn to corner for 4 yards. Johnson ran for 5 on the next play, setting up a 3rd and 1. Johnson got the ball but was hit by Cooks and Howard and was short by inches of the first down with the ball at their own 26. However, surprisingly, the Cards kept their offense on the field
Call it knocking the chip off the Giants shoulder or tugging Superman's cape, but when you would think the Cards would at most try to draw the Giants offsides (something Rosenbach was good at), Phoenix actually ran the play and Johnny Johnson dove ahead for the first down.....however. Luis Sharpe, the usual left tackle, shifted over to the right side at TE, and while he motioned to the official that he was an eligible receiver wearing an ineligible number, Gene Barth never acknowledged him reporting. So Joe Bugel's balsy call was undone by a penalty and forced a punt. To make matters worse for the Cards, Meggett had a strong return of 29 yards as he bumped off a tackler and accelerated down to the Cardinal 30 yard line before he was stopped.
The Giants started off with some...trickery?
Now, it's tough to say if this was a planned play, or if it was a flea flicker and OJ saw that if he pitched it back to Hostetler, with a blitz on, the play would fail spectacularly. Go back to the famous Joe Theismann broken leg play by LT. That happened because the Redskins called a flea flicker against a blitz and when the ball was pitched back, Harry Carson was already crashing in to hold the play up before LT came in and finished it, and Theismann's career. Either way, OJ faked the pitch back to Hoss, kept the ball and ran it up the middle for 20 yards, dragging tacklers until he was stopped inside the 10. It's a play that I have not seen before or since. OJ hurt his leg on the end of the run, so Tillman came in and he was dropped for a loss by Harvey on first down. Hoss overthrew Bavaro by the goal line on 2nd down. On 3rd down, Hoss dropped a low shotgun snap from Oates and fell on the ball before the Cards could. The Giants would trot Bahr out to hit a 34 yard FG and make the score 10-3 with 4:15 to go in the half.
The kickoff was delayed first by the ball blowing off the tee. As Bahr reset the ball and came back to kick it again, as he approached the ball, it again was blown off the tee, but Bahr followed through and squib kicked the ball down the field, where Garth Jax as a protect man got it at the 35. Bahr actually kicked the tee on the play too, showing his soccer skills, and sent the tee past the 30 yard line. Regardless, this showed why teams take one of the coverage unit to hold the ball on the tee and then go down in coverage, but the Giants didn't do that and Phoenix got the ball in very good position. Rosenbach's first down pass would be dropped by JT Smith and Johnson was stopped for a 3 yard gain on second down. On 3rd and 6, Rosenbach dropped a pass off to Flagler, who got up a head of steam and bowled into Greg Jackson and got enough for a first down at the 46. On the next play, Rosenbach would roll out and hit Proehl for 23 yards to the Giants 31 yard line. Johnson took a first down draw for a short gain which got the game to the 2 minute warning. On 2nd down, Rosenbach would hit Reeves, who bounced off a Gary Reasons hit and the 265 pound TE continued up the field for a first down to the 19 yard line and a timeout with 1:46 to go. The Cards continued to throw, hitting Proehl down inside the 10 yard line for another first. The Cards began with a 2 yard run by Johnson and a time out with 1:16 left in the half. On second down, Rosenbach hit Roy Green over the middle and was tackled by Reasons at the 1 yard line. Now 3rd and Goal at the 1, the Giants would sell out for run
More trickery from the Cards! As well as Johnson was running, the Giants would all go in on an inside run, with Cooks and Jackson losing their contain positions, trying to get inside for shots on Johnson. Instead, the Cards ran the tackle eligible, this time Sharpe reported before the snap and the 300+ pound Pro Bowl tackle was wide open in the end zone and made the catch to tie the game at 10-10 with :23 to go.
Del Greco's kickoff was squibbed and picked up by Cross who got it out of bounds at the 35. Hoss, under pressure, dumped the ball off to Meggett who got out of bounds at the 42 with :11 to go. Meggett would take an inside hand off on the next play, get across midfield where he was stopped by Freddie Joe Nunn inside the 45, but the refs tacked on 5 more yards on an incidental facemask with :01 to go. At the 39, Parcells decided to send Bahr out there for a career long 56 yard attempt (his career long at the point was 52).
I've highlighted this video not because Bahr missed the field goal. If anything, it was up there percentage wise with a Hail Mary attempt anyway. Factor in that the Giants had lost Simms, and the Giants 3rd string QB Matt Cavanaugh was deactivated so he was unable to play. So from Parcells' perspective, why risk putting Hostetler out there for a low percentage play and potentially get a hit on his QB as it was shown the Giants offensive line was having trouble with the Phoenix pass rush. The point to showing this was Dick Stockton's call. "On target, but short, right down the middle, but short" Ummmmm...WTF? Yes, the ball was short, landing in the "N" portion of the end zone with the letters which spell "GIANTS". But right down the middle, it was a good several yards outside the right upright. Stockton has always sounded the part of a sports broadcaster. He has more or less been on the 2nd or 3rd announcing team on CBS and FOX behind the Gold Standard that was Madden/Summerall. For a stretch, Stockton was the main voice of the NBA on CBS. In the NFL however, I've never been that impressed by his work. He's still calling games today, and he'll turn 71 during the season this year, so I'd expect to hear more botched calls like this. But in 1990 he was 47 years old, well in his "prime" as a broadcaster. I know the old Giants Stadium press box wasn't the best in the world, but it wasn't that bad either. I have no clue how he thought that kick was down the middle.
Anyway, the score was tied at 10-10 at halftime. The Giants looked the part of a heavyweight favorite team, who came out flat and suddenly found themselves in a dog fight which they weren't prepared for against what should have been an inferior opponent.
The Giants would kick off to start the second half and Sikahema would return it to the 30. The Cards first play was a playaction roll out by Rosenbach to Green for 12 yards. Johnson would carry the ball on successive plays and make nice gains, getting the ball to the Giants 42. After another 2 yard run by Johnson, the Giants would tack five yards on to that due to Erik Howard jumping offsides. The Cards kept feeding Johnson, running to his left side, and at LT, and getting a first down at the 31. The Cards had to burn a timeout before the next play, and it was yet another Johnson run for 4 yards. A Giants blitz on second down would force an incompletion, however in coming in to blitz, the Giants jumped offsides and gave up another 5 free yards. The 2nd and 1 play would be converted by Johnson for another first down. The Giants would jump offsides for a third time on this drive, as Howard came across on the hard count by Rosenbach, who took the opportunity to take a shot at the end zone and just missed Roy Green. Now at the 15 yard line, Johnson would take the next carry down to the 5 yard line, for yet another first down, and the Giants crowd began booing the effort. Johnson would be held to just 1 yard on first down, getting hit by John Washington. Rosenbach threw to Green on second down, but hit the receiver on the thigh and the ball fell incomplete. On third down, Rosenbach tried a QB draw, however he was held up initially by a blitzing Pepper Johnson, and then was finished off by Dorsey and Howard, stopping him at the 1. Bugel decided against challenging the Giants defense here and took the points and 18 yard Del Greco FG made the score 13-10 and capped off an impressive 12 play, 69 yard drive which ate 6:43 off the clock.
Meggett would return the kickoff to the 25. Hoss began with a handoff to OJ for 1 yard as the crowd groaned. But the crowd hadn't seen anything yet
Again, Eric Moore was having fits with Ken Harvey, as Harvey turned the corner and drilled Hostetler in the back. The ball was knocked loose and Ron Saddler recovered for Phoenix at the Giants 29.
The Cardinals started with a 5 yard pass to their H-back Jorden. Johnson would carry for 2 yards, getting stopped by Cooks and DeOssie. On 3rd and 2, Johnson would get stacked up at the line, but would bounce off the pile and run around left end for a first down before being cut down by Walls. Rosenbach was nearly picked off by Reasons, as he was under pressure from LT and threw the ball at Reasons, who dropped it (and also prevented Cooks from picking it off as he was waiting behind him). Rosenbach would scramble for 3 yards on the next play. On 3rd and 7 at the 19, Rosenbach threw into the flat, where Greg Jackson nearly had a pick 6, but he too dropped the ball. Del Greco came on to drill a 34 yarder and give the Cards a 16-10 lead.
Del Greco's kickoff was returned by Ingram, who was dropped by Ernie "Indiana" Jones at the 16. Hoss began with a deep out to Stephen Baker for 20 yards out to the 36. The Giants would again try some trickery, this time a pitch to OJ, who handed off to Ingram on a reverse. But Ingram bobbled the exchange that threw off the timing, but was able to get 4 yards (thanks in part to a block by Hoss). Hoss would get flushed out on the next play and sacked by Harvey for an 11 yard loss, the Cards third of the day. On 3rd and 17, Hoss would flip a screen to Meggett, who would get the ball back out to the 46 yard line, and just short of a first down. Parcells did not want to gamble this time and sent Landeta out to punt. However, the Cards defense got confused, thinking the Giants might go for it, safety Tim McDonald was on the field and seeing it was about to be a punt, he ran off the field. But he did not make it in time and the 12 men on the field penalty gave the Giants a first down at the 50 with 1:05 to go in the 3rd quarter. Hoss would pitch back to Meggett for 1 yard. On second down, Hoss again was under heat
NT Jim Wahler barged through the line for the Cards 4th sack and a 9 yard loss to end the 3rd quarter. This play was indicative of the Giants inability to control the Cardinals pass rush. Now 3rd an 17, Hostetler uncorked a long pass to Manuel, but it floated out of bounds. Landeta would get off a great punt, bouncing it at the 1 and Pepper Johnson downed it at the 4.
The crowd got back into the game, exhorting on the defense with the Cards so deep in their own end. Johnson was nailed in the backfield for a 2 yard loss by Cooks. He'd follow that run with another up the middle where he was nailed at the 5 yard line by DeOssie. On 3rd and long, and deep in his own end, Bugel went conservative. A draw play to Johnson was stopped for no gain and it was 3 and out for the Cards, who punted from their own end zone and Meggett had a good return to the Phoenix 35.
The Giants fans were into the game now. Hoss would start with a 6 yard pass to Cross. OJ would have a big burst up the middle to inside the 15, but a hold on Bob Kratch set the Giants back. Hoss would come back with a pass to Baker for 6 yards. On 3rd and 8, Hoss was under pressure, but escaped the rush and scrambled upfield, and was stopped just short of a first down. On 4th and 1, the Giants again trotted out their 3 TE lineup, but called a timeout with 9:41 to think it over.
Parcells considered his options, and decided to go for it a 3rd time in the game. Carthon took the handoff this time, but was hit in the backfield by Zordich and the Giants again were stopped from converting and the score remained 16-10.
The Cardinals took over at the 25, Johnson was stopped for a loss by Washington on first down. A pass to Green went for only 3 yards before he was drilled by Perry Williams. On 3rd and long, Rosenbach was blitzed and threw a deep pass to Proehl but the ball landed out of his reach, so on came Camarillo for yet another punt that was fair caught by Meggett at the 25.
The Giants offense came back out. Hoss started with a screen to OJ, but the ball was dropped. Hoss would get sacked by Freddie Joe Nunn on 2nd down. That would bring up another big 3rd down
Disaster. Hostetler's pass sailed over Stacy Robinson's head and it was picked off by the Pro Bowler McDonald, who returned the ball to the Giants 25 with 7:21 to go in the game as the boos rained down on the Giants from the home crowd.
The Cards went for the throat on first down, going to the end zone and for Ernie Jones, but Everson Walls was in position to pick it off and had the ball in his hands...but he dropped it. Johnson would run for just 1 yard that set up a 3rd and long. As Rosenbach slowly came to the line, looking to milk the clock, he didn't read the defense and a Giants blitz resulted in Greg Jackson coming in untouched for the sack and forced a fumble, however the Cards fell on it to retain possession. Al Del Greco would come on to hit his 4th FG of the day, this time from 45 yards out, and make the score 19-10. It was this point many fans headed for the exits as the game seemed out of reach considering how poorly the Giants had played (* more on this at the end)
Del Greco started with short kickoff that was taken by Ingram out of bounds at the 23. On first down, Hoss was under pressure again, but scrambled away for a 7 yard gain. On 2nd down, Hoss threw a deep pass to Robinson, who dropped the ball and nearly got it picked again by McDonald. On 3rd down, Hoss would hand off to Meggett out of the shotgun and Meggett got the first down out to the 35. Now in the hurry up no huddle offense, Hostetler threw to Ingram who took it out to the 46. The next play was another Hostetler scramble for 5 yards. Meggett would take the next handoff out of the gun for a first down to the Cardinal 38. Hostetler would throw the next pass out of bounds as all receivers were well covered. The Giants would stick to the air attack on the next play
With 3:27 to go, Hoss would lob a perfect deep bomb to Baker down the left side, who got behind Lorenzo Lynch and McDonald for a 38 yard TD and suddenly the Giants found themselves down 19-17 thanks to a 8 play, 77 yard drive in 2:17.
Now the crowd was back into the game. Bahr started off with a touchback on the kickoff. The Giants defense needed a stop on the Cardinals to get the ball back on offense. Johnson would take the first down carry and rumble for 9 yards, going over 100 yards on the day. Johnson would convert the first down on the next carry and the Giants would call their second time out with 2:16 to go. On first down, LT chased Johnson down the line for one of his patented tackles and a gain of 1 as the Giants called their final time out with 2:08 to go. Bugel would stay conservative, with an inside handoff to Johnson for no gain as he was tackled by Leonard Marshall to reach the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 9, no time outs left, the Giants defense made a huge play
Knowing a first down seals the game, but not wanting to risk a throw, Bugel called for a QB naked bootleg. The Giants defense collapsed in on Johnson, including LT who lost complete contain. Rosenbach, an underrated runner, had a lot of field in front of him, but Myron Guyton sprinted over to catch up with Rosenbach and stop him before he could get the first down. The Cards let the clock run down, where they got off a wobbly punt that was downed at the Giants 29 with :58 to go in the game.
Hostetler came on, no time outs to work with and knowing a field goal wins the game. Starting out in the gun with 4 WRs, Hoss began with a deep throw down the sidelines to Baker, who was double covered and the pass was nearly intercepted, but fell incomplete. On 2nd and 10, Hostetler would throw a bullet pass up the middle, in which Ingram made a sliding grab at the 46. Rather than spike the ball to stop the clock, Hoss came to the line and snapped it and threw a pass that fell incomplete. However, a defensive hold on the other side of the field on Lynch gave the Giants five more yards and a first down. Hoss got another bad snap from Oates, and was nearly sacked before throwing to Meggett, who tipped the ball and it was again nearly intercepted by the Cardinals with :24 to go. On second down, Hostetler would throw another pass, which was again dropped by Robinson, and again nearly picked off by diving Cardinals defensive backs. With :20 to go, 3rd and 10 at the 40, Hostetler and the Giants would finally make good.
Hostetler had a blitz in his face and he avoided an onrushing defender, scrambled a bit and hit Lionel Manuel with a perfect pass at the 23 yard line. With no timeouts and the clock running, the Giants got to the line and Hostetler made sure everyone was set properly and took the snap and spiked the ball hard to stop the clock with :03 to go. Parcells took off his headset, knowing this was the last play and on trotted Bahr for the game winning 40 yard attempt. Unlike today's NFL, the Cardinals did not call at time out to ice the veteran Bahr. Instead, Bahr calmly setup and nailed the 40 yard field goal right down the middle. The crowd went nuts. Stockton gave yet another underwhelming call considering the circumstances. Parcells excitedly hauled ass off the field, eschewing the customary post game handshake with Joe Bugel (which I always thought was kind of cheesy by Parcells here, why run off the field and not acknowledge Bugel afterwards?) Bahr would get mobbed by his teammates, nearly get squashed by Brian Williams in a bear hug. The Giants had escaped with a 20-19 win and went to 6-0, keeping a 2 game lead on Washington and giving the Giants the best start in their team history.
Interesting Tidbits/ Post Mortem
- It goes without saying, watching Hostetler lead the Giants down field for a last second game winning field goal by Bahr, this Cardinals game was a harbinger of things to come in San Francisco, when this combination pulled off the same trick in the NFC Championship Game, with Bahr hitting a 41 yarder (his fifth FG of the day) to beat the 49ers 15-13 and go on to the Super Bowl.
- As mentioned at the start, the Meadowlands was a nightmare for the Cardinals franchise. This was as heart breaking a loss as they suffered there. But they didn't lose all their games there after 1980. They actually tied the Giants in 1983 in a 20-20 game that is widely regarded as one of the worst Monday Night Football games ever broadcast. The teams would combine for 6 turnovers, 20 penalties, 9 sacks and Cards kicker Neil O'Donoghue would miss 3 field goals that could have won the game (eat your heart out Jay Feeley in Seattle).
- The Cards would continue to lose in Giants Stadium after this game
- 1991- 20-9
- 1992- 31-21
- In 1993 there was an eerily similar loss to the 1990 one for the Cardinals. The Cards had the lead late, but lost 19-17 on a Brad Daluiso 54 yard booming kick into a 15 mph wind at the end of the game.
- The Cardinals would finally break the jinx in 1994. The Giants held a 9-3 lead late in the game, but Steve Beuerlein would throw at TD to Bryant Reeves to give the Cardinals a 10-9 win. That loss would be the Giants 7th straight of 1994. After a 3-0 start, the Giants seemed dead at 3-7. However, amazingly, after this loss to the Cards, the Giants would rip off 6 straight wins, finish 9-7 and lose a tie breaker to the Packers who beat the Buccaneers to claim the last spot.
- Jeff Hostetler's 21 attempts was the second most in his career to this point. His previous high was in Arizona in 1989 in a 20-13 win. In that game, Hostetler threw 23 passes and accounted for all 3 Giants TDs (2 rushing, 1 passing)
- Hoss coming in would actually establish a pattern of him taking over for an injured Simms to play the Cardinals. As mentioned above, in 1989, Simms was knocked out of a Monday Night game against Minnesota and Hostetler came off the bench to help lead a comeback victory (thanks mainly to a Pepper Johnson Pick 6 and two Alfred Anderson fumbles on kickoff returns) and then started the next week at Arizona. In 1990, not only did Hostetler come off the bench to win this game, but later in the season, when the Giants played the Bills, Simms would go down with a foot injury that would shelve him for the remainder of the season. The following Sunday, with Hostetler as the starter...was in Arizona again, and Hoss led the Giants to a 24-21 win and would not lose a game the rest of the way. To a much lesser extent, Hostetler also saw garbage time at QB in their 35-7 blow out of the Cardinals in 1989.
- OJ Anderson would run for 88 yards in this game, his season high to that point and it would end up being his third best output of the 1990 regular season, behind his 92 yards vs. Washington which came the following week. OJ would only go over 100 yards in one game in 1990, in his Super Bowl XXV MVP performance with 102 yards against Buffalo.
- OJ's 28 yard run was his longest of 1990. In fact, it would be the longest run for the remainder of his career, which ended after the 1992 season.
- Carl Banks was in the hospital as this game was played. He played with a broken wrist the week before in Washington and had a huge cast on his arm. At the end of the game, he had done more damage and needed surgery and was lost until the famed December Monday Night game against the Niners. So in this game the Giants split his duties with Johnnie Cooks playing on running downs and the late Dave Duerson on passing downs.
- Greg Jackson's sack was the first of his career, and the first of 4 he'd register in 1990. Over the course of Jackson's 12 year career, he'd never register another sack in any other season.
- This game also featured a very little known brother vs. brother battle. Everyone knows about the Eli vs. Peyton matchups. Not to mention the Barber twins (Tiki and Ronde). But in this game we saw Giants TE Mark Bavaro go up against his brother, rookie LB out of Syracuse David Bavaro (who wore #59). David Bavaro would end up playing 5 seasons in the NFL after coming into the league as a 9th round pick. He would be on the 1991 Super Bowl Bills team, spend 1992 in Minnesota and finished his last 2 seasons of his career in New England, coached by Bill Parcells before retiring after the 1994 season. To add some symmetry, his more famous brother Mark would also retire after 1994, and spending his final 2 seasons in Philly as an Eagle. We Giants fans don't like to think about things like that.
- In addition to the list above, there were a few cases of the Giants having a member of their team while their brother played on another team. Among them
- Sinorice and Santana Moss
- Brad and Troy Benson
- Martellus and Michael Bennett
- Matt and Chris Bahr
- Tim and Matt Hasselbeck (and their dad Don Hasselbeck was a Giant TE)
- Shawn and Stacey Andrews (both would actually play for the Giants)
- Pete and Charlie Gogolak
- An interesting point was raised by Merlin Olson in this game I hadn't heard before. When the Giants traded for OJ Anderson in 1986 to act as an insurance policy in case of an injury to Joe Morris, apparently the Giants also tried to trade for Roy "Jet Stream" Green at the same time. Green, a big play WR, would have made sense for the Giants in 1986 as their WR core was decimated by injuries around midseason, and it got so bad that Hostetler actually was playing at WR. The Cards wouldn't do it however.
- Cardinals rookie Johnny Johnson became the first RB to go over 100 yards vs. the Giants in 20 games, when Gerald Riggs of the Redskins ran for 111 in the 1989 season opener. Johnson would be the only RB to go over 100 yards vs. the Giants for the regular season. The Giants would allow one other RB to gain over 100 yards against them however, Thurman Thomas ran for 135 yards in Super Bowl XXV, though that was by design as the Giants played 2 DL and chose to hit the Bills receivers in the K-Gun big play offense and give up the run.
- The Cardinals 5 sacks registered in this game were a season high allowed by the Giants in 1990, which is pretty remarkable considering they went up against the Eagles and Redskins twice, and then the 49ers and Bills later in the year. You wouldn't figure the Cardinals would give the Giants their biggest problems in pass protection.
- Al Del Greco kicked 4 field goals in this game, a feat he would accomplish 12 times over the course of his 17 year career. He actually kicked 4 FGs in 3 consecutive games in 1993 as a member of the Houston Oilers (vs. the Falcons and Browns in the Astrodome and then on the road in Pittsburgh). His career high was 5 FGs in 1995, also as a member of the Oilers in a 38-28 win at Cincinnati.
- Luis Sharpe was a left tackle for the Cardinals for 13 years and made 3 Pro Bowls. His TD on the tackle eligible play was the only catch and only TD of his career.
- As mentioned, Johnny Johnson was the only back to rush for over 100 yards vs. the Giants in 1990. The only QB to pass for over 300? Timm Rosenbach in their second matchup vs. the Giants passed for 381 yards, far in a way the most passing yardage the Giants gave up that season. Considering they played against Joe Montana (twice), Randall Cunningham (twice), Troy Aikman (twice), Jim Kelly (twice), and Dan Marino, that is pretty amazing.
- 20-19. That final score was one which we would see again in 1990, when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV. The last time they played a 20-19 game was on November 17, 1974 at Detroit when Errol Mann hit a 37 yarder to win the game for the Lions. However, other than these three games, the Giants have not been involved in a game that finished in a 20-19 score before or since. And I went all the way back through to 1925, when the Giants were facing teams like the Providence Steam Rollers and the Dayton Triangles.
- They actually came close to having a 20-19 score back in 1986 when the Giants were playing in Minnesota. That would have been the score, if not for a 4th and 17 pass from Simms to Bobby Johnson and a game winning 33 yard FG by Raul Allegre to make the score 22-20.
- Taking that one point game a step further. Since 1990, the Giants have been involved in 7 games that were separated by 1 point and have gone 1-6.
- 1994: 10-9 loss to the Cardinals
- 1997: 23-22 loss to the Vikings (Playoff game)
- 1999: 16-15 win over the Eagles
- 2001: 10-9 loss to the Eagles
- 2002: 39-38 loss to the 49ers (Playoff game)
- 2009: 21-20 loss to the Chargers
- 2012- 17-16 loss to the Redskins
- * To address the point raised above about the crowd leaving the game after Del Greco's 4th FG to make the score 19-10. It's tough to admit, but I was at this game, in my usual seats in the lower level end zone, section 120. I was 16 years old and went to this game with my father. Being a spoiled Giants fan at this point, I got angry at how badly the Giants were playing, couldn't believe that they would lose to the Cardinals. So I was a pain in the ass complaining and told my father I wanted to leave. He asked me if I was sure, I said yes. So we left. As we were heading down the spirals and to the parking lot, I heard the crowd roar and knew the Giants had scored a TD (it was the Baker TD). But we kept walking, got to the car and started driving home as we heard Jim Gordon call the game winning FG by Bahr. If we had stayed, both the Baker TD and Bahr FG would have been right in front of our seats. Since that time, I have vowed to stay to the end while a game is still within reasonable doubt. Sometimes it works out badly (see the 1997 Wild Card game against the Vikings and the 2010 Eagles game). But I also was there for the 1998 win over the Broncos (Toomer's catch was in my end zone) and the 2005 win over the Broncos (again, Toomer's TD from Eli was right in front of me) and the 2002 win and in game vs. the Eagles. But for this game, I didn't see the end of the comeback live. Boos to me.