Thursday, June 27, 2013

1993 Giants vs. Vikings

Wild Card Playoff Game

The Setup

If you go back to 1986, there was only 1 season in which the Giants won a playoff game and didn't end up playing in the Super Bowl that year.  They made the Super Bowl in the following seasons:

  • 1986 (win at home vs. 49ers, at home vs. Redskins, and win Super Bowl vs. Denver)
  • 1990 (win at home vs. Bears, win on road at 49ers, and win Super Bowl vs. Buffalo)
  • 2000 (win at home vs. Eagles, win at home vs. Vikings, lose Super Bowl to Baltimore)
  • 2007 (win on road at Tampa Bay, win on road at Dallas, win on road at Green Bay, and win Super Bowl vs. Patriots)
  • 2011 (win at home vs. Falcons, win on road at Green Bay, win on road vs. 49ers, and win Super Bowl vs.Patriots)
Meanwhile, the following other playoff seasons were one and done
  • 1989- Lose at home vs. Rams (Flipper Anderson's OT TD which he ran into the tunnel)
  • 1997- Lose at home vs. Vikings (blowing a 19-3 lead and choking away the end of the game)
  • 2002- Lost on road vs. 49ers (blowing a 34-13 lead...the Trey Junkin snap)
  • 2005- Lost at home to Panthers (shut out 23-0)
  • 2006- Lost on road to Eagles
  • 2008- Lost at home to Eagles
The only game in which they won a playoff game, but did not play in the Ultimate Game?  The 1993 Wild Card game vs. the Vikings.

This game also was very much a changing of the old guard in many ways.  First and foremost, it would signal the final home game for Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms, the respective leads on defense and offense for the Giants in their revival in the early 1980s, to their championship runs in the mid 1980s to early 1990s.  In LT's case, it was well known that he was going to retire.  Taylor was actually planning on retiring after the 1992 season, however a torn achillies tendon in a win over Green Bay was not how LT wanted to go out, on a medical cart.  So he rehabbed and came back for one final season in 1993.  Simms meanwhile had no intention of retiring after 1993.  He had a solid season, actually made the Pro Bowl at age 39, as he completed a career high 61.8% of his passes and a QB rating of 88.3, his third best of his career.  So going into this game, the fans had focused more on LT than Simms, not realizing that this would be the last time they'd see Phil Simms at quarterback in Giants Stadium.  It also was the last time that we would see several long time Giants end their careers with Big Blue, as a salary cap in 1994 would force several players off the roster (more on that later).

As for leading up to this game, one week earlier, the Giants and Cowboys held a titanic battle at Giants Stadium.  Both teams went into the game at 11-4.  To the winner would go all the spoils, the NFC East Championship, and more importantly home field advantage through the NFC playoffs.  The Cowboys, the defending Super Bowl Champions, were 6.5 point favorites on the road, and had previously handled the Giants to the tune of a 31-9 blow out at Texas Stadium earlier in the season.  In front of a packed house (including myself in my usual seats), the home crowd saw the hated Cowboys jump out to a 13-0 first half lead.  The Giants would come to life thanks to a powerful running game led by Rodney Hampton, and cut the lead to 13-10 on the heels of a Jarrod Bunch TD and a David Treadwell field goal.  Late in the game, as the Giants were driving for a potential go ahead score, Mark Jackson had a crucial dropped pass and Reeves went very conservative with his playcalling and settled for a 32 yard Treadwell FG to tie the game at 13-13. Unfortunately for the Giants, Emmitt Smith, Dallas' Hall of Fame running back, chose this game as the signature game of his career.  Playing on a separated shoulder thanks to a Greg Jackson tackle from behind after a long run, and playing essentially on one arm, Smith would rush 32 times for 168 yards and catch 10 passes for 61 more yards.  Despite a high powered Dallas offense, Smith was more or less the only weapon against the Giants on this cold day.  The Cowboys would eventually prevail on a 41 yard FG in OT by former longtime Detroit Lion kicker Eddie Murray to win the game 16-13 and set them up with home field advantage, and eventually lead to a repeat Super Bowl championship.

So while the Giants, at 11-5 had technically the 2nd best record in the NFC, they were a Wild Card team.  Meeting them was the 9-7 Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings made the playoffs by getting hot late in the season to claim the final postseason berth.  The Vikings were sitting at 6-7 after suffering a blow out loss at home to the Cowboys by the score of 37-20.  While they seemed to be going nowhere, the Vikings were able to right the ship behind their former nemesis in Chicago, the then 34 year old quarterback Jim McMahon.  McMahon would lead the Vikings to 3 straight wins, beating Green Bay on the road, Kansas City at the Metrodome, and then on the road at RFK against the Redskins.  In this 3 game streak, McMahon would throw 6 TDs and 2 INTs.  In the final game against a brutally bad Redskins team that would finish 4-12, they would need to come back to win by an uninspiring score of 14-9.  Meanwhile, the Packers blew a 20-16 lead at the Silverdome to the Lions and lost 30-20.  That would give the Lions the NFC Central Title at 10-6.  Despite the loss, the Packers would make the playoffs at 9-7 and actually play in the Wild Card round the following week, again at Detroit.  Meanwhile the Vikings needed to eek out that win at Washington to also finish at 9-7.  On their heels at 8-8 were both the Saints and Eagles and would have kept them at home.

So the matchup was set.  Dan Reeves had been able to coax one more playoff run out of the remaining aging core of the Parcells championship group, which had been mismanaged by Ray Handley the previous two seasons.  Going up against Denny Green, in his second year at Minnesota and brought Vikings to the playoffs for a second straight season (he won the NFC Central at 11-5 in 1992, but was bounced in the Wild Card round at the Metrodome 24-7 by the Redskins).  This time the game would be played in the freezing cold temperatures outdoors at Giants Stadium.  20 degrees and a 21 mph wind made the windchill feel like it's 4 degrees.  The Giants fans in attendance, including yours truly, were bundled up and looking forward to the Giants first home playoff game since 1990.

The Game Highlights

The Giants vs. Vikings was the 3rd of 4 Wild Card games played on the opening weekend in 1993.  This Vikings team, unlike the what they would become a few years later, was not an offensive powerhouse, but rather fit the profile that they created for themselves in the late 1980s, as a strong defensive club.  The Giants would win the toss and decided to kick off and take the wind in the first quarter, with Dan Reeves mimicking the decision that Bill Parcells made in the famous 1986 NFC Championship Game vs. Washington when the winds were even stronger.  After the wind predictably blew the ball off the tee on the first attempt, Brad Daluiso would kick off to Quadry Ismail down to the 2 yard line, where it would be returned out to the 23 yard line before being stopped by Jesse Campbell.  Jim McMahon came on at QB and his first play was a handoff to running back Scottie Graham, who was stuffed for no gain by linebacker Carlton Bailey.  Now 2nd and 10, the Vikings came in with 4 WRs to split the Giants defense out, and again ran the ball with Graham, but this time was able to gain 7 yards before he was stopped by Michael Brooks.  McMahon's 3rd and 2 pass was intended for Anthony Carter, however the ball went off target and fell incomplete.  Punter Harry Newsome came on to punt into the wind, and was clearly unnerved by the experience (something not seen in the climate controlled Metrodome) and shanked the ball off his foot to the Giants 43.

Starting with excellent field position, the Giants would come out with 3 TEs and hand off to Rodney Hampton for a 6 yard gain before he was stopped by Jack Del Rio.  2nd and 4 at the 50, Hampton plowed out to the 45 yard line where he was stopped by former Ram Fred Strickland, but it was good for a first down.  Simms would throw his first pass with the wind and drilled a strike to Chris Calloway for an 18 yard gain down to the 27 yard line and yet another first down.  The Giants continued to move the ball, Hampton would gain 9 more yards, getting behind the pulling combination of Aaron Pierce and William Roberts.  Right on the heels of that run, Hampton would follow it with another burst up the middle to the 12 yard line and good for another first down.  Just as it seemed the Vikings were on their heels, Hall of Famer Chris Doleman would bottle Hampton up on the next play for just a 1 yard gain.  The next play was a run to Hampton and he was stuffed by safety Lamar McGriggs.  Now at the 9 yard line, Meggett came into the game on 3rd and about 9, and with time to throw, Simms would target Mark Jackson in the back of the end zone, but the ball would bounce off Jackson's hands and fall incomplete. David Treadwell came on and split the uprights for a 24 yard field goal and a 3-0 Giants lead with 8:35 to go in the quarter.

Daluiso was able to do what he did best at the time, kickoff halfway into the end zone for a touchback.  On first down, going against the wind, McMahon dropped back and hit Ismail in the flat, who broke a Mark Collins attempted tackle and would gain 6 yards.  On 2nd and 4, Graham would blast up the middle to the 36 and a first down before he was stopped by Greg Jackson and Myron Guyton.  Graham would follow up with 4 more yards before getting stopped by NT Stacey Dillard after a 4 yard gain.  On 2nd down, McMahon would avoid pressure from LT and hit TE Steve Jordan, who was stopped just short of a first down by Bailey.  Now 3rd and about 1, with the crowd on its feet, McMahon would hand off to former 49er Roger Craig, who would be hit in the backfield and stopped short by Bailey and Brooks.  With inches to go, and going against the wind, Denny Green played it conservative and sent Newsome out to punt again. His next kick was a decent effort, a 39 yarder that was fair caught by Meggett at the 16.

The Giants took over with 5:26 to go in the quarter, which is to mean to work with the wind at their back.  Reeves however would stay on the ground, with Hampton gaining 4 yards to the 20 where he was tackled by John Randle.  Simms would hit Jackson on 2nd down to the 26 yard line and stepped out of bounds just short of a first down and the Giants called a time out.  Simms would run a QB sneak to get the first down and followed up with a pitch out to Hampton for a 5 yard gain and was tackled by Vencie Glenn at the 33.  Jarrod Bunch would get stacked up on the fullback inside handoff by Doleman for a 1 yard gain.  On 3rd and 4, a Simms hard count drew Doleman offsides, and his free play was very nearly an interception and TD return by linebacker Carlos Jenkins (wouldn't have counted, obviously).  Now with a first down, Simms would keep throwing, hitting Calloway on a slant to the 49 and a first down.  The Giants would move to a hurry up offense with the clock running and Simms would start off by hitting Howard Cross for a 5 yard gain, where he was high/lowed by McGriggs and Jenkins.  Hampton would take the handoff on the next play and rush around the right end to the 39 where the clock stopped for an official measurement with 1:15 to go and the Giants were given the first down.  Simms would overthrow Cross on a seam pass on first down and on the next play would scramble out of the pocket for a 6 yard gain.  Now at 3rd and 4, Simms would hit Pierce for a first down at the 25 yard line and the Giants would call their second time out with :12 to go with the wind.  On first down, Simms would hit Jackson at the 22 yard line, but rather than run out of bounds to temporarily stop the clock, Jackson came back on to the field and tried to make a play, but was stopped quickly and the quarter ran out on the Giants.  Now going into the wind in the 2nd quarter, Simms would start with a pass to Cross near the goal line, but the ball bounced off the big TE's hands and was nearly picked off in the end zone by Glenn.  On 3rd and 7, Simms would again get Doleman to jump offsides on a hard count and set up a much better 3rd and 2 at the 17 yard line.  Before the play, Simms would call a time out as he didn't like the defensive set up, using up all the Giants time outs very early in the 2nd quarter.  Coming off the time out, Simms would throw a perfect pass to a wide open Mark Jackson in the flat, for what would have been an easy first down.  However, continuing several bad weeks of poor play, including a brutal dropped pass in the Dallas loss the previous week, Jackson got handcuffed and dropped the pass.  So Treadwell came on to kick a 34 yard FG

This is why you never see easy field goals, or much scoring at all for that matter, towards that end of the field at Giants Stadium deep in the winter (which happened to be where my seats were, and still are now at MetLife).  The winds are too brutal and swirling winds wreak havoc with even the most professional kicker.  The ball was pushed far to the left and the score remained 3-0.

The Vikings now got possession of the ball, and this time with the wind at their back.  They began with a 4 yard gain by Graham, where he was stopped by Erik Howard.  McMahon would hit Jordan at the 39 where he was spilled by Brooks, but still it was good enough for a first down.  Graham was able to get around Corey Miller, who lost contain, and gain 4 yards on first down to the 43 yard line.  Now 2nd and 6, McMahon again was under pressure by LT, scrambled away and threw an incomplete pass in the direction of Anthony Carter.  3rd and 6, McMahon would have plenty of time to throw and would hit Carter on a deep out pass, however Carter could not stay in bounds and Newsome came on to punt.  Without the pressure of the wind in his face, Newsome would boom the ball over Meggett's head and into the end zone for a touchback.

With 12:34 to go in the 2nd quarter, it was the Giants turn to try to kill some clock and take the air out of the ball.  Hampton would start with a 3 yard gain up the middle.  Hampton would follow up with another 2 yard gain up the gut on 2nd down.  Now 3rd and 5 at the 25, Simms, no stranger to the Giants Stadium winds, would go with a short pass to Cross over the middle for a 6 yard gain and a first down at the 31.  The Giants again stuck on the ground, Hampton would gain 2 yards and was tackled by Randle and Esera Tuaolo.  2nd and 8, with Meggett in at WR, Hampton would take a draw play and get hit for no gain by Randle.  On 3rd and a long 8, Simms would dump the ball off to Hampton, who would gain almost 7 yards, but fell 2 yards short of a first down.  Giants punter Mike Horan, a former Bronco who was signed mid season by Reeves and cut long time punter Sean Landeta because of his inability to directional kick, came on to try his hand into the wind.  Horan got off a good kick, a 40 yarder which was fielded by Anthony Carter, who returned the ball out to the 26.

The Vikings began with a dropped pass by Jordan as LT was hounding McMahon again.  On 2nd down, McMahon would scramble to avoid some pressure and dump the ball off to Graham, who got up a head of steam and rumbled to the 44 yard line where he would get stopped by Guyton, but the result was a first down.  McMahon would keep throwing, this time a short 3 yard pass to Jake Reed, where he was dropped immediately by Mark Collins.  Denny Green would then get a little tricky, trying an end around reverse to Anthony Carter, who would initially bobble the handoff and then turn up field to the 49 where he would get tracked down by Erik Howard.  Now 3rd and 2, McMahon would again find himself under a strong pass rush and throw the ball away towards Jordan for an incompletion.  Again Newsome came on to punt and the ball was fair caught by Meggett at the 19.

With 5:50 to go in the 2nd quarter, and needing to keep the ball on the ground playing into the wind, Reeves switched out his Pro Bowl center, Bart Oates (a better pass blocker), with Brian Williams, a bigger/more powerful run blocker.  With everyone in the place knowing the Giants would run the ball, 2 consecutive hand offs to Hampton would gain just 3 yards in total and elicit a groan from the Giants Stadium crowd at the conservative play calls.  On 3rd and 7, a dump off to Meggett at the 25 was met with a huge hit by Anthony Parker and brought on Horan to punt.  This time the wind would factor in on the Horan punt, which was fair caught at the 46 yard line as the gusts held it up.

The Vikings, with good field position, started with a loss as Graham tiptoed into as he ran towards the line and was engulfed by Howard.  The Vikings would get some momentum on the next play, as on 2nd and 11, McMahon was back to throw and hit Anthony Carter in Giants territory at the 41 yard line and a first down. Graham would run for 1 yard and get nailed by Mike Fox and Keith Hamilton which brought the clock to the 2 minute warning.  After nearly a full first half of the Vikings not doing much at all, they would finally hit a big play

The Vikings would fake an end around to Anthony Carter, after running the ball out of that formation earlier, and McMahon would be able to roll to his right and throw a strike to Cris Carter for a 40 yard TD.  Carter beat veteran corner Mark Collins on the play.  Collins injured his knee in practice during the week and was initial doubtful that he would play, but he went out there and got burned.  Former Dolphin kicker Fuad Reveiz came on to hit the extra point and give the Vikings a 7-3 lead.

Reveiz's kickoff was short, out near the 10 yard line where it was taken by Calloway, but he was only able to get it out to the 18 yard line before he was dropped by McGriggs.  With 1:49 to go in the half, Simms started with a screen pass to Hampton for a 7 yard gain.  On 2nd and 3, Hampton took a handoff and dragged Glenn over the 30 yard line and a first down.  Simms ran up to spike the ball with :46 to go to stop the clock (the Giants were out of timeouts).  On 2nd down, Simms back to throw again, was hit from behind by Roy Barker and forced and incompletion.  On 3rd and 10, Simms in the gun, would throw the ball to Meggett, and in what looked like a trick play, Meggett set up as if he was going to throw a deep pass to Calloway.  However, McGriggs read the play and stayed with Calloway, so Meggett was forced to eat the ball for a loss and the Vikings called a timeout with :23 to go in the half.  Horan came on to punt the ball away, but then disaster

The Vikings, hoping for a bad punt into the wind, got something better.  As protect man Greg Jackson was shoved back towards Horan and essentially blocked the punt off his ass and the Giants downed the kick at the 36 yard line with :19 to go.  McMahon started with a check down pass to Graham, who was dropped by Brooks after a 1 yard gain and the Vikings were forced to call a time out with :08 to go in the half.  Rather than risk a loss or turnover, and knowing that they had the wind at their back, Denny Green sent on Reveiz for a field goal attempt.  Reveiz's 52 yard field goal attempt, with a strong tailwind was able too easily convert and give the Vikings a 10-3 lead.  Now, with the Giants conservative play calling with the wind in the first quarter, they found themselves down a touchdown.

Reveiz predictably squibbed the ball up the field, where it was scooped up by Meggett and was run out of bounds to end the half.  The crowd, stunned and frustrated by giving up 10 points in the last 2 minutes and giving up the lead, booed the Giants off the field as they headed into the locker room.

The 3rd quarter would be crucial for the Giants in this game.  They would have the wind at their back and with it, essentially, their chance to come back and win.  To not make up ground, or worse, fall further behind would more or less doom them.  The Vikings would get the ball to start the quarter, with a goal of killing that clock as much as possible and get the game to the 4th quarter.  Daluiso's kickoff was fielded right near the goalline by Ismail and returned out to the 27 yard line.  However a hold on the play against the Vikings set them back to the 14 yard line.  The Vikings first play was a pitch to Graham, who avoided Hamilton crashing into the backfield and was nailed for a loss by Guyton and Corey Miller.  With the crowd now into the game, the Giants defense was able to again get to McMahon

McMahon, under pressure from the Giants' defensive line, was hurried a throw which was nearly picked off by Collins.  However, behind the play, Mike Fox nailed McMahon, who took a forearm shiver to the head by Hamilton and was knocked woozy.  While the Giants had pressured McMahon, this was the first ime he was actually knocked to the ground.  Clearly, if that play had happened today, that would have been a penalty and an automatic first down (not to mention a hefty fine for the Hammer).  With all the concerns around concussions and avoiding head shots, this was a text book example.  McMahon was diagnosed with a "mild concussion" on the field by the Vikings medical staff and backup Sean Salisbury had to hurry up and get warmed up.  As McMahon was led to the sidelines, Salisbury came in on 3rd and 11 and got off a short pass to Cris Carter for a 6 yard gain, but was well short of a first down.  Newsome got off a decent punt out to the 32 yard line and was returned by Meggett to the 37.

As Phil Simms came back on the field, the crowd began cheering, trying to get the Giants slumbering offense to wake up.  They wanted to see more aggressiveness, as did announcer John Madden in the booth, knowing this was the Giants chance to make something happen with the wind at their back.  Simms would start off with a deep pass to Calloway over the middle, but the ball was knocked loose on the hit by McMillian.  On 2nd and 10, Simms dumped the ball off to Hampton on a screen but was tackled after a 3 yard gain by Tuoalo.  On 3rd and 7, with Oates back at center, Simms would hit Meggett in the flat on a dump off pass.  Meggett would make a move on Del Rio in the open field and dive forward to the 49 and a first down.  The Giants would finally break through on the next play

Rather than throw the ball, the Giants had Aaron Pierce go in motion and Hampton would follow his blocks and break through the line and get up a head of steam.  Hampton would show off his power, stiff arming linebacker Carlos Jenkins to the ground, out running the chasing Vikings, and thanks to good downfield blocking by Calloway on Glenn (with one more strong stiff arm on Glenn by Hampton thrown in to boot) he went into the end zone.  It was a 51 yard TD run, tied the score at 10-10 and got the crowded pumped up and completely back into the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Daluiso kicked it deep to Ismail.  Ismail was chased first by Marcus Buckley and then was run out of bounds by Phillippi Sparks and Collins at the 7 yard line.  McMahon came back into the game and surprised everyone with a QB sneak on the first play and took the ball out to the 12 yard line (with Madden semi-joking that he might still have that concussion if he's running that play).  On 2nd and 5, Graham got off a great run out to the 25, however a holding call on Pro Bowler Randall McDaniel on Corey Miller erased the big gain and set them back to the 6 yard line on 2nd and 11.  The Vikings ran the same exact play on 2nd down, but this time Bailey read it and made the tackle for a 1 yard loss.  Now 3rd and 12, the crowd was in an uproar and the Vikings looked a little shell shocked.  McMahon was back to throw in his own end zone and with pressure coming up the middle and a threat of a safety, he threw the ball over Graham's head, who was well covered by Armstead.  Things were unraveling for Minnesota

And things would get worse for them.  Newsome, in the back of his own end zone and the wind howling in his face, again seemed spooked by the environment.  Newsome would shank the ball again on the punt and it would bounce out of bounds at the 26 yard line.  The crowd was on its feet and yelling.  Sensing the chance to go for the kill here, Pat Summerall recounted how Dan Reeves' troops don't always understand what he's saying and tell his team to go for the jugular vein (and manages to mispronounce jugular).  This was always one of my favorite clips from a Giants game.

On first down, the Giants would run the exact same play as the long Hampton TD, with Pierce in motion, but this time DT Henry Thomas would clog it up for a 1 yard gain.  On 2nd and 9 at the 25, Reeves would stay on the ground and hand off a draw to backup Lewis Tillman for 2 yards as he was downed by Strickland and McMillian.  On 3rd and 8, Simms would draw Barker offsides again on a hard count and hit Derek Brown (!!!) for a would be first down.....but...flag(s) on the play.  The Barker penalty was offset by an illegal motion on the Giants.  Do over.  3rd and 8 again, this time Simms would scramble up the middle and get tackled just short of the first down as Ed Hochuli would call for the chains.  Reeves would decide to stay aggressive and pass up the field goal and the lead

Hampton took the handoff, got behind the block by Jarrod Bunch and got the all important first down at the Vikings 15 yard line.  The Giants would stay in a hurry up offense, and hand off to Hampton who took the ball to the 9 yard line.  Not done hammering with Hampton, the Giants ran it again to the 8 yard line as the offensive line started beating up the Vikings defensive line.  On 3rd and 2, with Mark Jackson in motion, Hampton again took the carry and spun ahead to the 2 yard line where he was stopped by Strickland but it was another first down.  Reeves kept up the pressure and hurried to the line of scrimmage.

In the no huddle, Hampton would power over the center and fall into the end zone for his 2nd TD of the quarter as he was taking over this Wild Card game.  On for the extra point, holder Mike Horan botched the snap and the ball bounced up and into the gut of kicker David Treadwell.  Treadwell kept his composure and actually ran past the contain man and in for an extra point.  Back in 1993, there was no 2 point conversions, that would be adopted one year later in 1994.  So the score would now stand at 17-10, Giants in the lead.

The wheels were coming off for the Vikings.  On Daluiso's kickoff, Ismail got the ball at the 4 yard line and fumbled it around for what seemed like an eternity as the Giants cover team bore down on him, with Jesse Campbell nearly falling on the ball as Ismail went out of bounds.  7 years later, in the NFC Championship game, a very similar circumstance happened.  After Ike Hilliard's TD catch on the Giants opening drive from Kerry Collins, the ensuing kickoff bounced in front of the Vikings return men.  As the Vikings tried to get control of the ball, a huge pile of players would result in the Giants backup safety Lyle West coming out with the ball.  The very next play, Collins would hit fullback Greg Comella in the side of the end zone to make the score 14-0 and the rout was on.

In this case, the Vikings had the ball at the 4 yard line with 5:28 to go in the 3rd quarter.  A false start on Cris Carter sent them back to the 2 yard line.  On 1st and 12, McMahon throwing out of his own end zone, would loft a pass up to Anthony Carter, who would bobble the ball initially and then haul it in at the 25 yard line, where he was stopped by Jackson, but the Vikings had gotten out of trouble.  Graham would carry on first down and get hit in the backfield for a loss by LT, who took on a pulling McDaniel to plug up the play.  On 2nd and 12, McMahon would be back to throw and with no one open, would take off running.  As he was heading out of bounds, Hamilton laid out for him and grabbed him by the back of his jersey (what would be a horse collar penalty today) and took him down.  The refs flagged Hamilton for unnecessary roughness and a 15 yard penalty nonetheless.  Now at the 40 yard line, Graham would take the handoff up the middle for a 4 yard gain, where he was stopped by Brooks at the 44.  On 2nd down, the Giants weren't done beating up McMahon.

As McMahon scrambled away from LT and pump faked him out of the play, while that got LT to leave his feet, that also allowed Fox to get a head of steam and drill him.  Fox tossed McMahon into LT and then hit the turf.  While he was able to hit Jordan for a 5 yard gain on the play, McMahon remained on the turf.  Remember, he was out there with his "slight concussion" and from the looks of it, slight shouldn't be a descriptor anymore for him.  Salisbury again had to warm up and get ready to come in the game.  Graham would take the handoff and dive over the middle for a first down into Giants territory.  The next play, Graham was able to find a hole and break into the secondary, where he was stopped by Corey Raymond just short of another first down.  On 2nd and 1, a 3rd consecutive Graham carry got the ball to the 34 yard line and another first down.  The Vikings had the best drive of the game against the wind at this point.  Salisbury threw a strike to Jordan down the field, and the former Pro Bowler would drop a pass that hit him in the hands and fell incomplete.  Salisbury would come back to Jordan on the next play, a play action fake that was good for 7 yards before Jordan was stopped by Brooks.  Now 3rd and 3, as the quarter was running down, Salisbury snapped the ball and threw to Anthony Carter, who dropped the ball after the hit by Collins.  Now 4th and 3 at the 27, a field goal was out of the question with :26 left and the wind in their face.  Salisbury was forced to call a timeout as the play clock was running down.  Coming off the time out, the Vikings would go for it

Salisbury took the snap and had time to throw, and had Jordan open over the middle.  However, the ball sailed over his head and through his hands for an incomplete pass, as Armstead came over and blasted him to the ground.  Again, if this game was played today, Armstead clearly led with his head on a helmet to helmet hit, and would have been a 15 yard penalty and a first down for Minnesota.  But no such call was coming in 1993.

The Giants had the ball at the 27, with still a little time left with the wind.  Simms took a deep shot to Calloway that fell incomplete.  With :19 to go, Simms dumped off a screen pass to Hampton, which was read perfectly by Del Rio, who broke through blockers and dropped Hampton for no gain and ended what was a huge 3rd quarter for the Giants and a disaster for the Vikings.  At the start of the 4th, the Giants began with a false start penalty on guard Bob Kratch that made it 3rd and 15 against the wind.  Simms would roll out and throw a short pass to Meggett, where he was chased down by Doleman at the 30 and forced a Horan punt.  Horan was able to get off a 40 yard punt to the 30 yard line, where Parker fair caught the ball, not a bad effort all things considered.

The Vikings would start off with a sweep by Graham around the right end, and he was knocked out of bounds by Collins at the 36 for a 6 yard gain.  Graham would follow that up with a burst around the left end and rumble to the 48 and a first down where he was finally stopped by Guyton and Jackson.  The Vikings would go with 4 WRs on first down, but this time the Giants defensive line was able to get good pressure on Salisbury, as Fox barged into the backfield to drop him for a sack and a 5 yard loss.  On 2nd and long, Salisbury's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by LT and prevented a completion and a good gain to Anthony Carter.  Now 3rd and 15, the Giants defense would make another huge play

Salisbury had time to throw the ball and would rifle a pass to Cris Carter who jumped to catch it and then hit his stride as he was making his way up field for a first down and more.  However, as he was breaking into the open, he was hit from behind by Guyton and the ball was jarred loose and popped into Greg Jackson's hands for the first turnover of the game and the Giants got the ball at the 15 yard line and stopped what was looking like a Vikings scoring drive.

The Giants would start off with Tillman in the backfield and he would take a pitch from Simms, but would get met in the backfield by Henry Thomas for a 2 yard loss.  Hampton would come back in the game now, on 2nd and 12, and he would break a tackle and push forward to the 22 yard line before he was stopped by Doleman.  Now 3rd and 3, Simms would go back to throw and dump the ball off to Hampton over the middle to the 27 yard line and a first down.  The Giants would stay on the ground the next 2 plays with Hampton, and would gain 8 yards on those two runs.  On 3rd and 2 at the 31, Simms would drop back and narrowly avoid a sack by Doleman and dumped the ball off to Hampton.  Hampton would get hit by 3 Vikings but he would surge forward and fall just short of a first down.  Horan came on and punted the ball away to Anthony Carter, who fair caught the ball at the 41 with 7:56 to go in the game.

Minnesota would start off again with a run by Graham, and he'd be held to just 1 yard on a tackle by Brooks.  Salisbury would drill a pass to Cris Carter at the 50, however refs ruled he trapped the ball and set up a 3rd and 9.  Salisbury would uncork a deep pass to Cris Carter and over throw him, nearly having the ball intercepted by Collins.  A three and out for the Vikings and Newsome came on to boom a kick to the 18 yard line, where it was fair caught by Meggett with 6:46 to go in the game.

Not surprisingly, with the lead and against the wind, Reeves played it conservative.  Hampton would gain 4 on first down followed by a 3 yard gain on second down.  Now 3rd and 3, Simms would be back to throw with some time to pass, but would eventually scramble out of the pocket and throw the ball away as all his receivers were covered.  The Giants three and out would bring Horan back to punt, and this time Carter returned the ball to the 47 where he was dropped by Corey Widmer.

With no concussion protocols back in 1993 (though, based on what I've seen the past few years, they don't seem to exist in Washington or Philadelphia today either), Jim McMahon came back into the game.  He started with a handoff to Graham would lose a yard, getting stuffed by Hamilton and Howard.  Jimmy Mac would hit a wide open Graham in the flat, but the running back dropped the ball.  Now 3rd and 11, McMahon would roll out and throw the ball to Ismail, who was met by Collins and forced him to drop the pass.  Another three and out and again Newsome came on to punt to Meggett, who fair caught the ball at the 17 yard line with 4:08 to go in the game.

Predictably, and understandably, the Giants started with a run by Hampton, following a Bunch block, up the middle for 3 yards where he was met by Del Rio.  Hampton would take the next carry around left end and got the ball to the 26 yard line where he was stopped by McGriggs.  Hampton would convert the 3rd and 1 on the next play, powering past Henry Thomas.  With the clock running, the Vikings had to spend their 2nd time out.  On first down, Barker would drop Hampton for a loss and Minnesota called their final time out with 2:12 to go in the game.  Now 2nd and 12, the Giants tried a reverse to Mark Jackson, who was able to more or less kill the clock by just coming across the field and gained only a yard but brought the game to the two minute warning.  3rd and 11, the Giants had the choice to try to throw against the wind and see if they can convert and end the game...or play it safe and run it.  Reeves played it safe.  Hampton ran the ball over the middle to the 30 yard line, again met by Del Rio and Horan had to come on to punt.  This time, with the wind in his face and the pressure of needing to get a big punt off, Horan shanked the ball off his foot for a mere 27 yard effort and rolled out of bounds at the 43, but was lucky to narrowly avoid a punt block.

So it now came down to this.  The Giants defense had to keep the Vikings out of the end zone with 1:05 to go in the game and Minnesota had the wind at their back.  McMahon started with a deep pass to Anthony Carter and it turned into a jump ball situation with Carter, Jackson and Sparks.  Jackson however batted the ball away.  Now with :57 to go in the game after the clock stopped, McMahon was under pressure and was hit from behind by LT and on the side by Kanavis McGhee and the ball fluttered incomplete.  Now 3rd and 10, McMahon would hit Jake Reed for a first down at the Giants 44 and ran up to stop the clock on a spike with :31 to go.  Now 2nd and 10, the crowd was chanting "LT LT" rather than "Defense!", knowing this was his last home game.  McMahon would complete a pass to Cris Carter, who looked like he was tackled in bounds by David Tate, however the refs ruled he fumbled the ball out of bounds and stopped the clock with :25 to go.  3rd and 7, McMahon again under pressure from LT and Hamilton, would scramble away and hit Reed for another first down at the 28 yard line and stop the clock with :17 to go.  However, the refs would correctly rule that Reed stepped out of bounds and came back in.  The illegal touching penalty set the Vikings back and the loss of down on it was a killer.  So the ball was now on the 44 yard line and it was 4th down and the game was on the line

With the crowd in full throat, McMahon playing with a concussion and other injuries from the day, was demolished by Hamilton for a big loss on a sack and was down and hurt again.  A flag on the play held up the celebration momentarily, until it was revealed to be a holding call on the Vikings tackle Tim Irwin.  The fans chanted to LT to thank him for his years of dominant play for the Giants.  With :12 to go, Simms had to just take the final kneel down and the Giants would win the game 17-10 and head to San Francisco for yet another playoff rematch.

Interesting Tidbits/ Post Mortem

  • Phil Simms was later interviewed about the 1993 team and he recounted a discussion that he had with Bart Oates before the final regular season game against Dallas.  That game was for all the marbles, the NFC East and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  To paraphrase, Simms essentially told Oates that they had to win this game, because the Giants weren't good enough to go on the road and get to a Super Bowl.  Simms turned out to be right.  An older Giants team, coming off two physical, cold weather games vs. the Cowboys and Vikings, had to fly across the country on a short week (they had the Saturday game) to play the Niners, who won the NFC West at 11-5.  The Niners would avenge their 49-3 blowout in the 1986 playoffs by hanging a 44-3 beat down on the Giants.  Before the end of the half, the Giants would be down 23-0 and Ricky Watters would have already scored 3 TDs.  The carnage would continue, Watters would score 2 more TDs, giving him 5 rushing TDs for the day.  The Niners would roll up 178 rushing yards and 6 rushing TDs, meanwhile the Giants would gain 194 total yards, with Dave Brown coming off the bench late in the game during extended garbage time.  The final score, 44-3.  Not much of a way for the great LT to go out.
  • While Simms and LT were the headliners, this game really was a career performance by Rodney Hampton, rushing for 161 yards on 33 carries and 2 TDs.  You have remember, Hampton was really the lone offensive threat for the Giants in the Reeves era, particularly when Dave Brown took over at QB.  Reeves, who had several good backs in Denver who had 1000 yard seasons (such as Sammy Winder and Bobby Humphrey), never had a running back as well rounded and good as Hampton was.  He also didn't have John Elway at QB to help bail him out.  So Reeves would run Hampton into the ground, and his knees finally gave out in 1997 and he retired at age 28.  Hampton would log an astounding 1179 carries from 1993-1996 (throw in another 40 for the post season to bring that total to 1219 carries).  Twice Reeves had Hampton carry for over 300 times in a season (327 in 1994 and 306 in 1995).  In 1993, Hampton missed 4 games and still carried it 292 times, averaging 24.3 carries a game.
  • This wasn't Hampton's first start in the playoffs however.  He started the 1990 NFC Divisional round game vs the Bears.  Hampton ended up breaking his leg trying to recover a Jeff Hostetler fumble on a sack by Steve McMichael and was lost for the rest of the post season.  As it would turn out, OJ Anderson would come off the bench and spur the Giants on to a Super Bowl championship, including his MVP award in Super Bowl XXV in the Giants 20-19 win over the Bills, thanks mainly to the Giants ball control attack.
  • Unfortunately for Hampton, his prime was wasted under Handley's incompetence and Reeves' gross overuse.  He only would get in 4 playoff games in his 8 year career.  The 1993 Viking game was the only one in which he got more than 8 carries.
  • Hampton's 2 rushing TDs would be his only post season TDs in his career.
  • Actually, Hampton's 2 rushing TDs in a game would put him in elite company.  The only other player to rush for 2 TDs in a playoff game in the past 40 years was Joe Morris.  Morris did it in 1986 in the 49-3 blowout of the Niners.
  • As for multiple receiving TDs in a playoff game, that feat has been accomplished several times
    • Johnny Perkins caught 2 TDs in a 38-24 loss at SF in 1981
    • Ike Hilliard caught 2 TDs in the 41-0 blowout win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship game
    • Amani Toomer caught 3 TDs (and 136 yards) in the mindbogglingly bad playoff loss to SF in 2002 (which made poor Trey Junkin a household name for a long snapper coming out of retirement)
    • Plaxico Burress caught 2 TDs at Philadelphia in the 23-20 loss in 2006.
    • Toomer again caught 2 TDs in the 2007 win at Dallas
    • Hakeem Nicks did it twice in 2011, in wins at home vs. the Falcons and the next week at Green Bay
  • One player actually rushed and received a TD in the same game- Brandon Jacobs, in the Wild Card round win at Tampa Bay in 2007.
  • Since 1981, Hampton's 33 carries in a playoff game were his most in a post season game and tied for a post season high with Rob Carpenter, who had 33 carries and 161 yards in their 27-21 Wild Card win at Philly in 1981.  The next highest number of carries in a playoff game?  Joe Morris in the 1986 NFC Championship game vs. the Redskins carried 29 times for 87 yards and 1 TD.
  • Hampton would get 30+ carries in a game 9 times between 1993 and 1995, including a career high of 41 carries vs. the Rams in 1993.  He also had a game with 29 carries vs Tampa Bay in 1993 as well.  That didn't even include his 33 carries in the 1993 Wild Card.
  • Hampton's 51 yard TD run was the longest in the Giants team playoff history.
  • Based on this heavy use, it should be no shock that Hampton was totally broken down by 1997.  He played in only 2 games to finish up 1997 season and got 8 carries in the Wild Card loss at home to the Vikings.  He would retire after the season.
  • Just as a comparison as a work horse.  If you consider the main running backs for the Giants, since 1981, here were their 30+ carries a game stats
    • Rob Carpenter- 0 regular season games
    • Joe Morris- 5 times (career high 37 for 202 in 1985 win over Steelers)
    • OJ Anderson- 0 regular season games with Giants (4 with Cardinals)
    • Tiki Barber- 3 regular season games (career high- 32 twice: 2002 vs. Eagles for 203 yards in a critical playoff clinching win and for 124 yards in a win at Philly in 2005)
    • Ron Dayne- 0 regular season games with Giants (1 time with Texas in 2006)
    • Brandon Jacobs- 0 regular season games
    • Ahmad Bradshaw- 1 time (2012: 30 carries for 200 yards and 1 TD in a win over Cleveland)
    • Derrick Ward- 0 times
  • The next highest carries per game by a Giants back since 1981 other than Hampton's 41?  In 1999, Joe Montgomery had 38 carries for 111 yards and 1 TD in a 41-28 win over the Jets.  Montgomery, a rookie in 1999, seemed to be one of the Giants big hopes at running back in the future.  However, injuries slowed him down after his rookie campaign.  He only got 1 carry in 2000 as Thunder (Dayne) and Lightning (Tiki) became the main backs.  He did get 16 carries to run out the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship Game vs. the Vikings.  Montgomery would miss the 2001 season and play in one more game, this time as a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2002.  He would retire after the season.
  • Phil Simms had a pretty pedestrian stat line in this game: 17-26, 94 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs.  These numbers are deceptive however because when you play a game in January in the old Giants Stadium, it was so cold and windy, that your opportunities would be severely limited playing against the wind as it was near impossible to throw the ball much further than 10 or 15 yards.  As a result, it shouldn't be surprising to see that this was actually the 2nd time Simms threw for under 100 yards in a playoff game at home and won.  And even less surprisingly, that game was the 1986 NFC Championship Game vs. the Redskins.  Simms went 7-14, 90 yards, and 1 TD and 0 INT in a game when the wind was much stronger than this Viking game (over 50 mph wind gusts).  In that 1986 playoff game, the Giants won the toss, decided to take the wind, took and early lead in the first quarter and never looked back.  On the flip side, the Redskins QB Jay Schroeder, forced to throw the ball as the Giants defense was the toughest to run on in the NFL that year, went 20-50, 195 yards and 0 TD and 1 INT as he was shut out 17-0.
  • Simms best post season yardage game?  No surprise, his MVP effort in Super Bowl XXI.  Against Dan Reeves' Broncos, Simms went 22-25, 268 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs, arguably the finest passing performance in Super Bowl history.
  • Just for the heck of it, Simms' regular season career record when throwing for under 100 yards and at least 10 pass attempts (meaning he wasn't knocked out due to injury early or came in off the bench): 7-4.  In 1986 alone he turned the trick 2 other times, not even including the NFC Championship
    • 17-14 win over Dallas at Giants Stadium: 6-18, 67 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT (Joe Morris would run for 181 yards and Cowboys' QB Danny White would be lost for the season with a broken wrist on a sack by Carl Banks)
    • 27-7 win over St. Louis at Giants Stadium: 5-21, 82 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs (Again, Morris would go off, rushing for 179 yards and 3 TDs.  Meanwhile Cards QB Neal Lomax was sacked a then Giants team record 9 times)
  • Eric Moore started at left tackle in this game, in place of injured Pro Bowler Jumbo Elliott and was faced against the Vikings top pass rusher, Chris Doleman.  Moore had an underappreciated career with the Giants.  Taken in the first round of 1988 draft out of Indiana, he was soon surpassed performance wise by the Giants' second rounder, Jumbo out of Michigan.  As Elliott would settle in as the Giants left tackle late in 1988 and would end up making the Pro Bowl and become the Giants first player to get the Franchise Tag applied to him, Moore bounced around on the line.  With Elliott and William Roberts forming a strong tandem on the left side, Moore would share time at right guard with Bob Kratch and also fill in at right tackle when injuries would hit Doug Reisenberg.  
  • While this game was most known as the final hurrah at Giants Stadium for LT and Phil Simms, it actually signed the end of the line for many more long time Giants and brought about a huge turnover of the organization for 1994, thanks to both age and the salary cap.  You have to remember, back in 1993, there was no salary cap and the Giants were big spenders in free agency, signing Carlton Bailey, Michael Brooks, Mark Jackson, and Mike Sherrard.  Come 1994, with the cap in place, and George Young slow to adjust, the team would be decimated, including losing more or less their entire defensive backfield in one swoop.
    • Bart Oates- Following a Pro Bowl season in 1993, Oates would go on to sign with the 49ers.  To be fair, Oates was being phased out anyway, as former first round pick Brian Williams was ready to take over as the full time center.  Throughout the season, and even in the Vikings playoff game, Williams would split time with Oates, so this departure was planned.  Oates would play 2 more seasons in San Francisco, be named to the Pro Bowl both years and help the Niners win the 1994 Super Bowl.  In all with the Giants, Oates would play 9 seasons, get named to 3 Pro Bowls, win 3 NFC East Titles, 5 playoff appearances, and 2 Super Bowl championships.
    • Mark Collins- After 8 seasons and 2 championships, Collins would leave the Giants and sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.  Collins was a physical corner, who's poor hands never allowed him to put up big INT numbers (his career high was 4 in a season), would keep him from getting Pro Bowl nods.  By age 30, with a high price tag, he would play 3 seasons with the Chiefs and eventually shift to safety.  Collins would have brief stops in Green Bay and then Seattle before retiring after the 1998 season.
    • Jarrod Bunch- The former first round pick out of Michigan in 1991 never really got it together with the Giants.  Despite high hopes that Bunch would team with Hampton to become the new Morris/Carthon of the 1990s, it never panned out.  After being MIA most of his rookie season (1 carry and 2 catches all season), things seemed to be trending better in 1992.  Hampton would rush for 1141 yards (2nd best of his career) and 14 TDs (career best), and his backfield mate Bunch rushed for 501 yards and a 4.8 yards per carry.  However, when Reeves came in, the injuries piled up for Bunch, as knee problems would limit him to 8 games and he would split time with a free agent rookie named Kenyon Rasheed.  In 1994, Reeves would release Bunch, thinking his heart wasn't into it for football.  Bunch would go to the Raiders, last one season and then retire after the 1994 season and got into acting.  2 people had an authentic Jarrod Bunch Giants' jersey in the 1990s.  One was Bunch, the other was myself.  And I lost it somewhere in a move years ago.
    • Myron Guyton- Guyton was plucked as a free agent by Bill Parcells, who was coaching the Patriots.  Guyton had started all 16 games as a rookie in 1989, not bad for a former 8th round pick, and was part of 2 NFC East titles and a Super Bowl win.  Guyton would play 2 more years in New England and retire after the 1995 season.
    • Greg Jackson- Guyton's fellow 1989 draftee, would sign with the Eagles as a free agent.  Jackson would take over as the starting safety in 1990 after Adrian White suffered a torn ACL in the pre-season.  Jackson would play 2 seasons in Philly, setting a career high with 6 INTs in 1994.  From there Jackson would play 1 season in New Orleans and then 4 more years as a member of the Chargers until retiring after the 2000 season.
    • Bob Kratch- Similar to Guyton, Kratch was signed by Parcells in New England.  He was given a huge contract (for the time), a 4 year, $6.9 million contract that paid him $2.5 million in 1994, which was more than the Giants could afford, even for a 28 year old starting guard.  Kratch would play 3 seasons with the Patriots and retire after their 1996 Super Bowl run.
    • Ed McCaffrey- McCaffrey was let go and the Giants used the roster spot to trade for former Bronco WR Arthur Marshall.  Needless to say, this would go down as one of the worst personnel decisions in history.  To be fair, McCaffrey ended up in San Francisco in 1994, and contributed very little, just 11 catches in their Super Bowl march.  He would break out in Denver, playing 9 years there, earning a Pro Bowl slot in 1998 and register 3 1000 yard seasons, including a huge 2000 season with 101 catches for 1307 yards.  Easy Ed would win 2 Super Bowl titles, in 1997 and 1998 and would retire after the 2003 season.
    • Lewis Tillman- Tillman, who was drafted in 1989, was known mainly as a change of pace/slasher running back and a good special teams player, would end up signing with the Bears.  Tillman, who made his name as the guy who broke Walter Payton's rushing records at Jackson State, never really got over the hump as a starter, unable to beat out OJ Anderson or Rodney Hampton.  So he would go to Chicago, to again follow in Sweetness' footsteps and get a chance to start.  In 1994, Tillman would rush for a career high 899 yards and 7 TDs.  However, by 1995, the 29 year old Tillman would get supplanted by first round pick, and former Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam at running back.  Salaam would rush for 1074 yards in his rookie season and Tillman would only get 1 start, and also fall to #3 on the depth chart behind Robert Green.  Tillman would retire after the 1995 season.
    • Kanavis McGhee- McGhee, the Giants 2nd round pick in 1991, was expected to be a big part of the Giants' tradition of dominant linebackers.  However, he never really fit the scheme and was passed over by fellow draft pick Corey Miller.  The Giants would shift McGhee to a defensive end position in 1993 but chose to let him go.  He would play one year with the Bengals and then finish his career playing with the Houston Oilers, in his hometown.  McGhee would retire after the 1995 season.
    • Perry Williams-  Williams, the long time cornerback, would simply retire after the 1993 season.  Williams played his entire 10 year career with the Giants and held down starting corner spots on the 1986 and 1990 championship runs.  For years it was between Williams and Stacy Robinson to see who was the fastest Giant.  Williams played in only 8 games in 1993.
  • When you think back to the Giants playoff rivals over the years, several teams come to mind.  Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the Giants had several rivalries going with the Bears, Browns, and Packers.  In the past 40 years, the Giants and 49ers met in the playoffs 8 times (including 2 NFC Championship Games in San Francisco...both won by the Giants).  The Giants met the Eagles in the playoffs 4 times since 1981.  But this game was the first of 3 straight playoff seasons that the Giants met the Vikings, all taking place at Giants Stadium.  In all the Giants went 2-1 vs. Minnesota.  They blew the 1997 Wild Card round game, blowing a 19-3 lead and choking late in a 23-22 brutal loss.  In 2000, offensive coordinator Sean Payton happily put in a game plan that tore apart the Vikings' secondary and hung a 41-0 stomping in the NFC Championship Game.
  • The Vikings leading rusher in the game, Scottie Graham, was working at a pharmacy a few weeks earlier when he was brought in to help their playoff push.
  • This would be Roger Craig's final game in the NFL.  Craig made his name in San Francisco, helping them win 3 Super Bowls and becoming the first man in NFL History with 1000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, when he accomplished that feat in 1985, and he was named to 4 Pro Bowls.  By 1990, injuries started to pile up for Craig as he dropped from 1054 yards rushing in 1989 to 439 in 1990.  Giants fans remember that he was the one who was tasked with running out the clock in the 1990 NFC Championship Game and was hit by Erik Howard late in the game and forced a fumble, which was recovered by LT.  Matt Bahr would go on and hit the game winning field goal from 41 yards out and ruin the threepeat.  This would also be Craig's final game with the Niners, he would sign as a Plan B free agent with the Raiders in 1991 (along with long time teammate Ronnie Lott).  Craig would bounce to the Vikings in 1992 and he finished his career with 1 carry for 1 yard in this Wild Card game.  Craig made the playoffs every year of his 11 year career.
  • This was Jim McMahon's 6th playoff start, you would think that he would have had more considering all the success the Bears had in the mid/late 1980s, until you remember how much time he missed due to injuries.  In 1986, McMahon was lost for the remainder of the season when Charles "Too Mean" Martin slammed him to the ground after an interception.  Martin had a "hit list" towel that had several Bears' numbers, including McMahon's #9.  If that had happened in 2013, the internet would have exploded and Roger Goodell might well have executed Martin in public.  Doug Flutie would take over the rest of the way and the Bears were bounced in the 2nd round at home by the Redskins.
  • McMahon would actually appear in one more playoff game in his career.   In 1996, he was a 37 year old backup QB to Brett Favre in Green Bay.  McMahon came on for some cerimonial kneel downs in the 30-13 NFC Championship Game win over the Carolina Panthers.  The Packers would beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, 35-21 and McMahon would retire after that game, with his second Super Bowl ring.
  • The referee in this game was Ed Hochuli.  Hochuli would later referee the Giants 2011 NFC Championship Game win in San Francisco.
  • The Giants and Vikings players each received a playoff check of $7500 per player for playing in this Wild Card round.  In today's NFL, the Wild Card team makes $20,000.  The division champion in the Wild Card round gets $22,000.  
  • Simms and LT weren't the only long time pair that was getting a send off, or so the fans thought.  Back in 1993, CBS Sports, for many years the broadcast network of the NFC, had lost broadcast rights for the NFL.  NBC kept the AFC package.   ABC kept Monday Night Football.  However, an upstart new sports network, FOX Sports, jumped in and outbid CBS for the right to broadcast the NFC.  What that meant was that several of the long time CBS broadcasters were uncertain if they were working next year.  At the top of that list was Madden and the late Pat Summerall, who were by far the best tandem in the business.  So as they were calling the game there was an overriding feeling that this might be their final broadcast at Giants Stadium together.  That brought 2 highlights to mind in this game: 
    • Madden, who at times, and particularly towards the end of his broadcast career had turned into a caricature of himself with the promotions and boom/whap stuff.  However, when he was on his A Game and was able to describe what was going on out on the field from a coach's perspective, he was great.  This one highlight showed his thoughts on concussions.  McMahon was knocked out by Keith Hamilton and the Vikings brought him back out to keep playing, even though he was clearly hurt.  Knowing what we do about the impact of concussions, CTE, and the horror stories about players and early dementia (including Jim McMahon now), but years ago, that was either ignored or unknown.  Madden however, here 20 years ago in 1993 showed a greater understanding of the risks of concussions and how he didn't think McMahon should be playing.

    • Last, thinking this might be their last broadcast, Pat Summerall, a former Giants player, decided to pay tribute to Giants fans.  When he said he is asked who the best fans in the NFL are, as he said here, in his mind: "Giants fans are the best".  Noting the knowledge, loyalty, and coming week in and week out, year in and year out, in Summerall's eyes, the Giants fans were the ones that he felt were the best he's seen in his time broadcasting.  I'm biased...but I agree.