Friday, November 14, 2014

1986 Giants @ Vikings

Week 11

The Setup


des·ti·ny- a power that is believed to control what happens in the future

There were a few definitions to choose from for the term destiny, and while they are used in various contexts either religiously, politically/geographically (manifest destiny) or throughout Star Wars (Luke, it is your destiny), one of the most ascribed versions is to sports.  The term "fan" comes from "fanatic"  Again, dipping into Websters, a definition for fanatic is "filled with or expressing excessive zeal".

So, take a term fanatic in a sports context, add in the idea of sporting "Gods" (the football gods, baseball gods, etc) and it's not hard to see where the belief that some teams have been blessed by a higher power which will end in a championship.  But how does a team and it's fans/media suddenly decide that they are clearly the chosen ones and destined to win it all?

Usually it comes about at some point in early or mid season, a flukey play, a strange circumstance, that will eventually lead to victory that fans can point to that shows that there is something special about their team and raises the expectations to see a title, so much so that it would be a shock for it not to happen.

The Giants have been fortunate enough to win 4 Super Bowls.  However, in 3 of those seasons, it's tough to point to a moment that you could define as Destiny that fans and media alike pointed to a special moment to say, "Wow, this team could win it all" at some point in the mid point of a year.  Let's work backwards on the last 3 championships to see does it fit the bill to say the Giants were a team of destiny:

2011- The Giants were at 7-7 going into a Christmas Eve game against the Jets as a road team.  The Giants were lucky that the Cowboys blew several games and did not put the Giants away when they had them down at home.  Most fans generally point to the Victor Cruz 99 yard TD against the Jets as the turning point in their season (and the Jets as well, the wheels fell off for Rex since that point).  So yes, I'd say that the Cruz TD suddenly gave the Giants life to win the NFC East.  But did anyone really feel "Super Bowl" after that play?  And yes, there were paralells to 2007 (Eli beating Brady on a late TD, The Giants facing 2 teams in the playoffs who beat them in the regular season, etc).  So there were hints that the Giants were going to follow the same path for a Super Bowl.  But again, in my arguement, a team takes on a feel of destiny earlier in the season that validates a march to a title.  The 2011 Giants were an inconsistent group, with a bad running game, that was fortunate to play in a mediocre division.  Yes, they had great comebacks on the road in Arizona, New England, and Dallas.  However, they looked like trash against the Redskins (twice), against an Eagle team at home with Vince Young at QB, and the Saints handed them their ass.  But they got the break they needed, they got healthy come playoff time and got hot thanks to Eli's heroics.  But a clear team of destiny...maybe after Week 15, and iffy at best.

2007- This team came in with the departure of their best player (Tiki Barber), the defense looked like trash in the first 2 games and just righted their ship thanks to a Goal line stand in Washington in Week 3 that saved the season.  But a team of destiny?  Hardly.  The Cowboys put the division away in early November in beating the Giants a second time and took the #1 seed with a 13-3 record.  The Giants were in trouble to make the playoffs until they were able to come back and beat the Bills in Buffalo in a game that featured a rain and snow squall and the Giants fell behind 14-0 early.  Thanks to a big defensive 4th quarter with 2 TDs (by Mitchell and Webster), the Giants were able to pull away from the Bills (a team that would finish 7-9).  Many point to the last game of the year, when the Pats were playing for a perfect season and the Giants had nothing to play for, and the Giants went toe to toe with them, losing in the end 38-35, but showed that they could hang with the best.  Can you say you are a team of destiny because you almost beat an undefeated team?  I don't think so.  And again, they got hot after that and went on their run.  Maybe destiny didn't rear it's head until Tyree snagged a ball off his helmet.  But that's about as late as you can imagine a team believing it's destiny, a final drive for a TD in the 4th quarter of a Super Bowl.

1990- This team was a jugger naught for a long stretch.  Went 4-0 in preseason and started 10-0 in the regular season.  They pretty much ended the NFC East race before Halloween.  However, the Niners went 10-0 as well.  In their famed Monday Night matchup, the Giants lost 7-3.  Maybe you point to Jeff Hostetler coming on after Simms was hurt against the Bills (Hostetler was unable to lead a comeback and they lost that game).  If anything, the mantra from the media (and fans alike) was that no backup QB has ever won a championship, so the Giants will end up losing to the Niners on their way to a three peat.  Hostetler didn't do anything especially exciting in late wins against a couple of bad teams on the road (Cardinals and Patriots).  He played great against the Bears, but destiny?  That feeling didn't happen until after Matt Bahr had buried his 5th and final field goal to beat the Niners, 15-13 and go to the Super Bowl.  But throughout the Giants early 10-0 run, they stomped a lot of teams, but so did the Niners.  The only destiny part was you knew that the Giants and Niners would meet up in the NFC Championship (and that was in doubt after the Simms injury).  But a championship?

That brings us to the first championship, 1986.  You have to keep in mind how the NFL worked in the 1980s.  In the time before free agency/salary cap, teams would take a long time to build up a foundation, become better slowly over time and then either it worked and the team became playoff quality to championship quality, or it didn't and the team would start over.  It was also the era of the dominant team in a single season, something which is no longer the case in the NFL.  In addition to having the dominant team, you usually had the challenger that would take the mantle away year to year.

For example, go back to 1984.  The 49ers finished at a dominant 15-1.  In their playoff run, they would beat the Giants, shut out the Bears in the NFC Championship, and then pound the Dolphins 38-16 in the Super Bowl.  The next year, the challenger (the Bears) would step up and wrest control from the Niners.  The 1985 Bears would also go 15-1, go back to San Francisco in the regular season and hang a 26-10 beating on them, en route to shutting out both the Giants and Rams in the playoffs and then toyed with the Patriots in the Super Bowl, 46-10.

By 1986, the team who most considered the obvious challenger and then biggest kid on the block?  The Giants.  They had back to back playoff seasons in 1984 and 1985.  In both cases they won a playoff game, only to lose on the road to the eventual champion.  They had Phil Simms in his prime, coming off a Pro Bowl MVP.  Joe Morris broke out with 1336 yards and 21 TDs.  And a 2nd year TE named Mark Bavaro was ready to assume the mantle as the best TE in football.  Add in a veteran offensive line and the offense was looking strong.  Meanwhile the defense was loaded, with a number of guys in their prime as well, and things would line up with Lawrence Taylor, the most dominant linebacker in NFL history, preparing for his tour de force season of his career.  So, going into 1986, the Giants had very high expectations that they would be the team to unseat Chicago.

After an opening loss on the road to the Cowboys, the Giants would hit their stride, winning 8 of their next 9 games, tying them for first in the NFC East with the Redskins at 8-2.  Meanwhile, the team who the Giants were looking to unseat, the Bears were also 8-2.  The Bears had lost a Monday Night game at home to the Rams by the score of 20-17 on a 50 yard field goal by Mike Lansford.  But they dropped their first game on the road in Minnesota.  With Jim McMahon out with and injury, the Vikings jumped all over backup Steve Fuller and took a 23-0 lead before allowing a window dressing TD in a 23-7 blowout victory.

So it was the Giants turn to take their shot against the Vikings in the Metrodome.  In their first 8 wins, there was nothing really there that would kind of give a Giants fan that divine feeling like this was going to truely be their season.  A comeback win over the Saints after falling behind 17-0?  Nah.  The Jim Mora Saints were an improving team, but not that good just yet.  A comeback win over the Raiders?  Nope, that Raiders team would fall to 0-3 and finish the season 8-8.  Beating Dallas to take over the lead in the NFC East might have meant more, but in that game Carl Banks broke Danny White's wrist, and the Cowboys would go from 6-2 entering that game, to having the wheels fall off and lost 7 of their final 8 games, making them 7-9 in 1986, their first losing season in 20 years.

With the Vikings at 6-4 and looking to put another notch in their belt to knock off the Giants and put themselves squarely in the playoff picture, the Giants and their fans would be set up with a game against a very good team and, for the first time in the Super Bowl era, have that destiny moment that can be summed up simply as 4th and 17.

The Game Highlights

Raul Allegre would start off the game by kicking off and the ball bounced around the 10 yard line, near the sidelines, but fortunately for the Giants, would bounce into the end zone.  Alfred Anderson would run and grab it in the end zone and kneel down for a touchback, if not, Perry williams was racing in to fall on it for an easy touchdown to start the game.  Tommy Kramer, the #2 rated QB in the NFC, would lead the Vikings offense on to the field starting at the 20 yard line.  Kramer would begin with a play action pass, and had some time to throw early, until Leonard Marshall was able to get pressure and force an incompletion.  However, a penalty on Harry Carson on a defensive hold gave the Vikings a free 5 yards and a first down.  Now at the 25, a pitch to Anderson to the right went for 4 yards, before he was tackled by Carl Banks and Carson.  On 2nd and 6, Kramer took a short drop and dumped the ball off to Darrin Nelson just beyond the line of scrimmage, and Nelson was able to get free from the pack and take the ball out ot the 43 yard line, where Gary Reasons finally stopped him, but he was able to get a first down.  Kramer began with another play action pass, but this time his young offensive line had a break down as Marshall split a double team and sacked Kramer for a 5 yard loss to the 38.  2nd and 15, an inside draw to Nelson was completely stacked up by George Martin and Jim Burt for only a 2 yard gain.  Looking at a 3rd and 13, Kramer was in the shotgun and had time to rainbow a deep pass towards Hassan Jones, but the Giants deep coverage stood up, as Mark Collins and Herb Welch converged on the ball and batted it away.  Punter Greg Coleman would boot the ball away to Phil McConkey, and his 59 yard moonshot would end up soaring into the end zone for a touchback, as McConkey's convincing fair catch held up the Vikings coverage team and prevented them from being in position to knock the ball back into play.

The Giants offense would come out on the their 20 yard line and similar to Kramer, Phil Simms would begin with a play action pass and would connect with Stacy Robinson on a 14 yard pass, where he was forced out of bounds by Carl Lee, but good for a first down.  Now at the 34, a pitch to Joe Morris was snuffed out by DE Mark Malleney after a 2 yard gain.  On 2nd and 8, another play action pass left Mark Bavaro over the middle, and Simms would hit him for a 15 yard gain, and he would be tackled by Jesse Soloman at the 50 the catch would move the chains.  Morris would run to his left and gain 4 yards before he was stopped by DT Tim Newton.  Now at the 46 yard line, Simms would drop back to pass, however the Minnesota pass rush would force Simms up into the pocket and he would scramble for a 3 yard gain.  Now 3rd and 3, Simms would get plenty of time to throw from his offensive line and he would hit McConkey on a crossing pattern at the 31, and he would turn it up field to the 25 before he was caught from behind by Lee, but not before getting the first down.  On first down, a quick inside handoff to fullback Mo Carthon didn't go very far, maybe a 1 yard gain, before he was taken down by Soloman and Newton.  On 2nd down, Simms dropped back to throw, and tried to hit Morris on a streak in the end zone, but the ball just sailed through his hands, showing the downside to Morris' 5'7" frame.  On 3rd and 9, Simms again in the shotgun, and again with time to throw, passed the ball to Robinson over the middle for what should have been a first down at the 8 yard line, however he was smashed by Lee and Mike Lush and the ball fell incomplete.  Allegre would come on and easily convert on a 41 yard field goal attempt, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead with 7:48 to go in the first quarter.

Allegre's kickoff went to Tim Brown (no not that one) at the 3 yard line, where he was smashed down by Robbie Jones at the 21 yard line.  The Vikings offense started with a swing pass in the direction of Allen Rice out of the backfield, but LT's blitz got Kramer unnerved and rushed his throw and the ball sailed out of bounds.  On 2nd and 10, Kramer backpeddled and nearly fell over, but ended up dunking off on a screen to Anderson, who hid behind his blockers and was able to get up a head of steam before he was finally stopped by Harry Carson and Terry Kinard past the 30 yard line and near a first down.  On 3rd and inches, Kramer took the handoff and just put his head down on a classic QB sneak, gaining 2 yards before he was stopped by the Jim Burt and Leonard Marshall.  On first and 10 at the 33, Nelson took a sweep around left end, but Burt made his way over to tackle him for no gain.  On 2nd and 9, Kramer handed off to Nelson on a sprint draw, who was able to break through the left side of the line, where he was finally caught by Burt at the 40 yard line.  3rd and 1, on what was actually a busted play, as Kramer turned the wrong way looking for Nelson, and ended up simply looping back through the middle for a 4 yard gain to the 44, where he was tackled by Carson and Perry Williams, but was able to get another first down.  Kramer started the next set of downs with a short drop and play action fake and drilled a pass in to Anthony Carter on a quick slant, and he was tackled by Kinard at the Giants' 45 for another first down.  The Vikings would then go to the ground, a hand off to Anderson, who first bounced into the line and then took it around right end for a 6 yard gain where he was knocked out of bounds by Kinard and Mark Collins.  Minnesota would follow up with a draw play that worked like a charm, as LT ran himself out of the play, allowing Nelson to skirt through a huge whole up the gut, and sprinted ahead for a 14 yard gain to the 25 yard line before he was tackled by Kinard and Gary Reasons.  The Vikings went right back to Nelson again on another draw going to the right side, however this time the Giants line held up and he was tackled by George Martin after a 3 yard gain.  Now 2nd and 7, Nelson continued to stay involved, this time catching a swing pass in the right flat (which was nearly snagged by Martin for a pick) and was taken to the 23 yard line and was hit down by Reasons for no gain.  It was a play that was very reminicient of Martin's interception TD that would come one week later against John Elway and the Broncos.  However, now 3rd and 7, Kramer was in the shotgun, and found himself under pressure almost immediately, and was nailed by Marshall as he was throwing the ball and it fluttered out of his hands, very nearly a sack/fumble, but the refs blew it dead and called it incomplete.  That would bring on Chuck Nelson to convert a 39 yard field goal, though it looked ugly and nearly didn't get there, but it counted, and tied the game at 3-3 with 1:19 to go in the first quarter, in all a 13 play, 57 yard drive that ate up 6:29 of time on the clock.

Nelson's kickoff was taken by Phil McConkey at the 11 yard line and he immediately headed right back up the middle of the field to the 34 yard line, where he was stopped by David Evans. The Giants offense began with a sweep to Morris around left end for a 3 yard gain to the 37, where he was stopped by DT Mike Stensrud.  The carry put Morris over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.  On 2nd and 7, Simms had time to throw and dumped the ball off to Morris who got open out of the backfield and he was able to chug all the way out to the Vikings' 45 yard line, where he was tackled by Issac Holt, but he was able to gain a first down.  Morris would get stuffed by Chris Martin after a 2 yard gain on the final play of the first quarter.  Starting off the second quarter with a 2nd and 8, Simms dropped back to throw while the Giants offensive line picked up an all out blitz.  As the pass rush was pushed beyond him, Simms took off running through a lane and was clotheslined by safety Joey Browner at the 32 yard line and fumbled the ball, but the refs called him down and it was good enough for a first down.  A hit like that today on a QB in the open field and there would be no question that the field would be littered with flags for a personal foul. As it was, Simms was lucky to get up off the ground after that hit, and decided to hand off to Morris on the next play, who took a delayed draw up the gut, followed a big block by Chris Godfrey, and sprinted to the 16 yard line for another first down.  The Giants gave Mo Carthon some token work, a quick handoff up the middle was good for a 4 yard gain to the 12 yard line.  On 2nd and 6, Simms took a short drop and had time to throw, and looked to Bobby Johnson who was open at the 2 yard line, but the ball sailed on him and went incomplete.  Looking at 3rd down, Parcells called his first time out and whatever the coaching staff come up with didn't work out, as Simms was almost under immediate pressure and was sacked by Mullaney, who has beaten Karl Nelson on the play.  Allegre would come on to hit a 37 yard field goal and give the Giants a 6-3 lead with 12:46 to go in the half.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Giants tried to get cute and attempted a pooch hick into one of the open areas between the blockers.  It would bounce in the air and would be snatched by 6'7", 300 pound tackle Tim Irwin at the 26 yard line.  Being an offensive lineman, he wasn't used to handling the football and got drilled by Soloman Miller and was piled on by the rest of the Giants.  Irwin would be injured on the play, but he held on to the ball.  The Vikings would start with a handoff to Nelson, but as he cut back, LT was waiting for him and send him flying backwards for no gain.  On 2nd down, Kramer would throw a dart to Steve Jordan over the middle, and he was able to take the ball all the way to midfield, where he was tackled by Carson, Reasons, and Banks.  A new set of downs began with Kramer floating an out towards Nelson, however the ball fell incomplete.  On 2nd and 10, Kramer again dropped back, scrambled around, and threaded a pass in to Anthony Carter for another first down, as he beat Elvis Patterson at the 35 yard line.  The Giants would stuff Allen Rice on an inside handoff and he was lucky to squirt for a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, Perry Williams came on a corner blitz, but it was read by Kramer, who hit Carter on the hot read and got the ball to the 23 yard line, where he was bulldogged down by Kinard and another first down.  On first down, the Vikings attempted what looked like a near Statue of Liberty play, and on the long sweep to the right side was diagnosed by the Giants, who blew the play up and Banks dropped Nelson for a 4 yard loss.  The Giants defense wasn't done setting Minnesota back

LT, moving over to the right side of the line, stunted with George Martin and took the Vikings offensive line with him, leaving Martin open to come in on Kramer.  Kramer would step up to avoid the rush, but LT would split the offensive line and dropped Kramer for a big sack back to the 30 yard line, giving Taylor an NFL leading 15.5 sacks at the time.  Looking at a 3rd and 19, Kramer was in the gun, and just bearly got away from LT and scrambled up the middle for a 6 yard gain before he was taken down by NT Jerome Sally.  The field goal unit would come on and Nelson would pop through a 44 yarder, tying the game at 6-6 with 6:53 to go in the half.

McConkey would field Nelson's kickoff at the 3 yard line and he would get taken down on an ankle tackle by Walker Lee Ashley at the 23 yard line.  Simms would come out and with plenty of time to throw, dump off another pass to Morris, who got the ball out to the 29 yard line, stopped by Chris Martin.  The Giants would try Morris on draw to the left, which looked like a loss as Martin had him in the backfield, but he got away from Martin, only to get dragged down by Browner for no gain.  On 3rd and 5, Simms would find former Viking Tony Galbreath (playing the spot that Meggett would perfect as a 3rd down back in the shotgun), who gained 12 yards to the 39 yard line.  On first down, Simms would hit Bavaro on a wheel route, and the big TE took the ball up the field for a 25 yard gain out near the 36 yard line, stopped by Soloman.  Simms would stay in the air and with lots of time to throw, again go back to Bavaro all the way down to the 11 yard line on a post pattern, beating Browner in coverage.  Morris would take a sweep going to his right and cut it back up the middle, stopped by most of the Vikings defensive line after a 2 yard gain.  Another draw to Morris was met up by a purple wall for a 2 yard gain.  On 3rd and 6, a pass went towards Carthon out near the first down was bobbled and dropped.  So the Vikings defense bent, but did not break, on came Allegre and he would hit his 3rd of the day, from 24 yards out, putting the Giants up 9-6 with 2:23 to play before half time.

Allegre's kickoff went to the goal line and was taken out by Bess, who was able to break a few tackles going up the sidelines and would step out of bounds at the 24.  Kramer would begin the next drive with a play action fake and sprint out to his right, where he was chased by Andy Headen but just got away from him, and was able to get the pass off to Jordan who got the ball up to the 42 yard line, tackled by Kenny Hill, a fellow Ivy Leaguer to bring the game to the 2 minute warning.  Working on first down, Kramer would drop back and hit Rice for a 9 yard gain, near midfield and was forced out of bounds by Greg Lasker and Perry williams.  On 2nd and 1, again in the shotgun, Kramer would give the ball to Nelson on an inside draw, who was able to weave his way around the left side, going through a huge hole opened by Gary Zimmerman and darted all the way to the 36 where he was finally chased down by Headen.  The Vikings would call their first time out after this play stopping the clock at 1:46, but also giving Kramer a chance to regroup after he tweaked his ankle during the play.  1st and 10, Kramer would audible to another quick hitter to Nelson up the middle, and the change in the play worked, with Nelson bursting to the 26 yard line, stopped by Mark Collins, and the Vikings would call their 2nd time out with 1:39.  On first down, a sprint draw to Rice was good for 4 yards, stopped by Carson, and Kramer would call the team to a quick huddle and rushed back up to the line.  On 2nd and 6, the Giants would blitz and it wasn't read by Anthony Carter, who didn't follow up with the proper sight adjustment to his route and Kramer threw the ball to an area that he expected from a hot read, but no one was there.  Now 3rd and 6, Kramer again had another big pass rush in his face, this time Eric Dorsey pushed the pocket back, and Kramer would float a deep pass in the end zone, somewhat towards Alfred Anderson, but the running back broke off his route and it fell incomplete.  After 2 straight miscommunications by the Vikings in the passing game, Chuck Nelson would trot out to knock through a 39 yard attempt,...a gimme in the dome, right?

Nelson should have easily hit this one, but Elvis Patterson came around the corner and caused the kicker to mess up his technique and he missed the attempt wide to the right.

So the Giants dodged a bullet and got the ball at the 21 yard line with :55 to go in the half.  Simms began in the gun and dumped the ball off to Galbreath over the middle for a 6 yard gain, stopped by Bess.  Staying aggressive, the Giants went to a hurry up, and Simms would drop a quick pass over the middle to Bavaro, who chugged towards the 45 yard line, stopped by Soloman and Simms would call the Giants' 2nd time out with :30 to go.  With a new set of downs, Simms would get a little bit of a rush, but he would get away from Doug Martin, move to his right and drilled a pass in to Bobby Johnson at the 37 yard line, where he would fall forward but kept the clock moving.  Simms would hrry the offense to the line, and with the clock running, dumped off a pass to Galbreath for a 2 yard gain, stopped by Soloman.  Back in 1986, you couldn't take the snap and spike it to stop the clock, it was called intentional grounding back then, so they had to run a play.  However, a penalty on Brad Benson would cost New York 10 yards, and with :05 to go in the half, the Giants decided not to try a Hail Mary.  Instead, they would bring Allegre out to try a 60 yarder, which surprisingly very nearly got there, as it was a tad short and to the left.  Regardless, the kick was no good, and the Giants and Vikings went into the half with the Giants holding a 9-6 edge in a battle of field goals.

The Giants would get the ball to start the 2nd half and Nelson would kick it off about 5 yards deep into the end zone and McConkey took a knee for a touchback.  Simms would start with a pass play, which was slow developing and ended with a throw that floated over Morris' head for an incompletion.  On 2nd and 10, a draw to Morris was read by Browner, who barged in on the play and hit Morris in the backfield, but Joe was able to slip away and fall forward to the 21 yard line.  On 3rd and 9, Simms was in the gun and he tried to sling a deep pass over the middle towards Robinson, but the ball would sail on him and go right inot the hands of safety Mike Lush, who dropped a gift interception and with it went a golden chance for a turnover.  Landeta's punt would be a boomer out to Bess at the 18 yard line, 61 yards in the air, and Bess would take it to the 20 yard line where he was able to avoid Perry Williams, but Pepper Johnson came on to clean it up.

Minnesota would start with a playaction fake Nelson, which gave Kramer plenty of time to drill a slant into Leo Lewis, as he fit the ball in between Reasons and Williams for a first down at the 40.  Anderson took the carry on the next play, and was first caught in the backfield, but he was able to cut back and push the pile for 6 yards where he was stopped by Banks.  On 2nd and 4, Kramer would pump fake to his right and then hand off behind him on a near Statue of Liberty play to Rice who took the ball around left end, and sprinted for a good gain to the Giants' 43 yard line where he was tackled by Collins.  The drive would continue with another play action fake, but this time the Giants defense was not fooled and Kramer was sacked by LT and George Martin for a short 2 yard loss.  On 2nd and 12, Kramer dropped back and was able to sling a pass to Nelson in the flat, who made a nice one handed catch for an 8 yard gain and took it out of bounds, with Headen trailing in coverage.  The medieval variation of instant replay in 1986 kicked into motion, as the teams to wait for the replay official in the booth to review and confirm that it was good.  Back then, there wasn't any red flag on the field, no real indication that anything was being looked at.  The players all just stood around as the refs huddled together.  The referee for this game, Pat Haggerty, took to the mic to announce that the replay official had confirmed the ruling on the field and set up a 3rd and 4 at the 38 yard line.  Kramer would come under center for this snap and with a pocket to throw in, threw another dart to Nelson, who came out of the backfield and found a soft spot in the Giants' zone for a first down at the 22 yard line, and was touched down by Hill.  However, a holding call on the Vikings erased the play as Headen was yanked down on a blitz up the gut.  Now with 3rd and 15 at the 48 yard line, you would think it wouldn't be a good position against this Giants' defense, however Kramer went into the gun and hit Lewis on a streak right down the seam to the 24 yard line and a first down, despite having LT in his face.  With a new set of downs, Nelson went in motion and Kramer tried to hit Lewis on an out pattern with Hill coming in on him on a safety blitz, but the ball was rushed and fell incomplete.  On 2nd and 10, Rice slipped out of the backfield, and Kramer threw the ball to him on a wheel route, beating Carson in coverage and took the ball up the sidelines to the 12 yard line, stopped by Collins, but good enough for another first down.  The Vikings would go the ground, however Jim Burt slipped right by the center and nearly took the handoff by getting in the backfield and smashed Anderson for a 1 yard loss to the 13.  2nd and 11, Kramer tried a quick out to Nelson in the flat, and he was punished by Headen, knocking the ball loose and falling incomplete.  On 3rd and 11, Kramer was in the gun and he would hand off to Nelson and LT completely blew up the play, hitting him for a big loss, however NT Jerome Sally lined up offsides to give the Vikings new life on 3rd and 8.  The Vikings would make the Giants pay

On what was clearly a blown coverage, Rice slipped out of the backfield and no one picked him up as the Giants defense all followed Anthony Carter across the field.  He was so open that even play by play announcer Tim Ryan was able to essentially make the TD call before Rice caught the quick flare from Kramer.  The blown assignment looked to be either Kinard or Herb Welch, but regardless, Minnesota was able to get into the end zone for the first time on the day.  In a wacky play on the extra point, punter Greg Coleman who acts as the holder, was unable to field the low snap and tried to roll out to his left and was met by LT, and was tackled by Kinard as he flung the ball up in the air.  However, a facemask penalty on Kinard gave them another chance, and Coleman got into a scuffle after the play with LT, which would have been the last thing he ever did if he kept jawing.  Anyway, the Vikings got another chance, and this one went through on a line drive, giving the Vikings a 13-9 lead with 8:34 to go in the 3rd.

Nelson's kickoff was taken by Miller at the 3 yard line, and he was only able to get to the 15 before he was stopped by Lush and Lee.  The Giants began with a pitch to Morris running to the left for a good 4 yard gain before he was tackled by Scott Studwell (one of the best linebacker names ever).  On 2nd and 6 at the 19, Simms on play action aired it out for Robinson and he got into a pushing match downfield with Lee going for the ball, which drew a flag for pass interference on the defense.  The boos cascaded down in the Metrodome from the crowd, but the ball was placed at the Vikings' 44 yard line and a first down.  Morris would take the next handoff and power his way to the 40 yard line, stopped by Issac Holt, and a 5 yard facemask penalty would tack more yards on, bringing it to the 34 and setting up a 2nd and short.  Rather than hand off, Simms would roll out and connect with McConkey who was wide open at the sideline at the 20, and he would turn up the field and make it to the 11 yard line before he was slammed to the ground by Chris Martin.  Another first down and driving, the Giants would give the ball to Morris, and he was hit about 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, by Stensrud, but he broke off that tackle and would push his way back to the 17 yard line before he was hit by Doug Martin and taken down for a 5 yard loss.  On 2nd and 15, Simms was back to throw and he dumped the ball off to Carthon at the 16 and Mo would bull his way to the 11, where  Studwell would knock it loose and the ball would end up going out of bounds with Browner and Stensrud in pursuit at the 14 yard line, mainly thanks to Morris shoving Stensrud forward and witht hat momentum knocking the ball out of harms way.  So the Giants dodged a big turnover in the red zone....right?

Simms was under center because it was too loud for the shotgun and he tried to hit McConkey coming across the field at the 5 yard line.  However, Simms was hit just as he threw the ball and it sailed a little and over McConkey's head and into the waiting arms of Holt at the 4 yard line.  Holt would burst his way up the sidelines before getting knocked out of bounds at the 29 yard line with 6:12 to go in the 3rd, while a disgusted Simms threw his helmet off the turf in furstration.

Coming off the turnover, the Vikings would start with what looked like a delayed pitch to Allen Rice to the right, and it seemed as though they were setting up for a halfback option pass, but Martin was all over it and nailed him at the 25 yard line for a 4 yard loss.  On 2nd down, another delayed sprint draw to Nelson went to the left, however this time the Giants defense took away his blockers and he was hit by Carson for another 2 yard loss.  With the Minnesota offense marching backwards, on 3rd and 16, Kramer in the gun, and with only a 3 man rush, was forced to scramble up towards the line to try to find an open receiver but he was smashed by LT just as he got the ball off in the direction of Lewis.  The ball fell incomplete and the Giants defense had a huge hold and brought on Coleman to punt to McConkey

Phil McConkey was never the best punt returner in the NFL.  He never returned a punt for a touch down.  He never led the league in punt return yardage.  But what he did better than anyone was make sure he fielded a punt to keep the ball from bouncing past him and not sacrificing yards and maintaining field position.  To do that, you had to be tough because you were going to take a hit and you needed sure hands.  McConkey had both.  In this case, Coleman got off a pretty poor punt, and McConkey raced in to make sure he caught it and kept the good field position.  For his efforts, he was decked by Lee and bounced off the turf.  What did McConkey do?  Took the huge hit.  Held on to the ball.  And just popped up off the ground (or here, the sidelines) at the 42 yard line with 4:30 to go in the 3rd.

Simms started with another pass, and would hit Robinson for a 9 yard gain on a comebacker by the sidelines to the Vikings' 48 yard line.  Morris would get stuff on 2nd and 1 by Solomon for no gain, and on 3rd and short, the Giants would go with the heavys, playing William Roberts at TE and Damien Johnson at fullback.  The power formation would work, as Morris ran to his left around Roberts, who caved in the left side of the line and Morris got the ball to the 43 yard line and a first down where he was taken down by Holt.  The next play would turn out to be a carnival act

Well, that was interesting.  Simms back to throw, again had Stensrud all over him, as he blew right by Billy Ard, and hit Simms as he threw the ball.  The ball would get intercepted by Holt, his 2nd on the day, but as he ran with the ball, Bobby Johnson knocked it loose and it was recovered by Bavaro at the 46.  The Giants got the ball back, and a first down, but lost 4 yards on the play.  Underred, the Giants would go back to the air, and Simms tried to hit McConkey on a go route up the sidelines, and while he just missed making the connection, a pass interference penalty was thrown on Holt at the 15 yard line, good for a 31 yard gain, which again triggered the boo birds in Minnesota to react.  On first down, Carthon took the handoff, but was met by Martin, who stonewalled a pulling Ard and dropped the fullback for a 4 yard loss.  On 2nd and 14, a blitz up the middle hurried Simms, who dropped back and flipped the ball over Carthon's head and just avoided a sack (and intentional grounding).  3rd and 14, Simms took a shot in the direction of the end zone, but Doug Martin batted the pass down.  Allegre would come on to convert on a 37 yard field goal attempt, which made the score 13-12 with 1:08 to go in the 3rd quarter.

Allegre's kickoff was taken by Bess at the 1 yard line and he returned it to the 24 where he was tackled by Robbie Jones.  Kramer began with a handoff to Nelson up the middle, and he was able to push the pile for 4 yards before he was stopped by Carson.  A hard count by Kramer actually would work against him, as he got Tim Irwin to move for a false start, and it would make it 2nd and 11 as the 3rd quarter ran out.  In starting the 4th, Kramer was under pressure and flipped the ball out to Jordan, who broke off his route in seeing the safety blitz by Hill, and gained 6 yards to the 16, where he was stopped by Kinard.  On 3rd down, the Giants defense from 1986 would claim another QB victim

Kramer was in the gun and got pressure up the middle from LT, who stunted there after rushing from the right side.  LT would crush Kramer as soon as the threw the ball, which was completed to Lewis at the 20 yard line, but he was just short of a first down, covered by Kinard.  However, behind the play, Kramer was in pain and flexing his thumb as Coleman came on to punt again.  Coleman's kick was taken by McConkey at the 35, he got a Viking to miss, and took it right up the middle of the fieldbefore he was tackled by Soloman at the Viking 49 yard line.  His good return was ruined by an illegal block by Headen and brought the ball back to the 30.

Simms would begin with a playaction fake to Morris, which held up the Vikings for about half a second before the defensive line poured in on Simms, forcing him to dump it off balance to Morris, who snagged the ball and got it to the 33 yard line, where he was taken down by Browner.  On 2nd and 7, a pitch to Morris running to his left and he turned the corner, but was stopped by Lee and Studwell after just a 2 yard gain.  On 3rd and 5, Simms would drop the snap in the shotgun, but had the presence of mind to pick it up, and as the Vikings were bearing down on him for a sack, he did a side arm sling pass to Galbreath, who dove and caught it at the 42 yard line for a first down.  Working on first down, Simms was back again and dunked it off to Carthon as a safety valve, and Mo gained 4 yards before he was dropped by Chris Martin.  On 2nd and 6, with Rouson in motion out of the backfield, Simms dropped back for another pass, and yet again dunked it to Carthon, and Mo was able to take it up the middle, bounce off a big hit by Soloman, but got the first down to the Minnesota 48 yard line.  On 1st down, the Giants went to their bag of tricks, Simms handed off to Rouson running to his right, and he gave the ball back to Bobby Johnson on a reverse running to the left.  Soloman lost contain and was sealed off by a block "attempt" by Simms kind of diving at him, and Johnson took off up the field for a big gain out to the 25 yard line, good for a 22 yard pick up.  Johnson wasn't done making big plays

With the Vikings defense on their heels, Simms went back to pass again, and had plenty of time to throw thanks to a play action fake to Morris, and as former Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw would see in the booth, Johnson got wide open behind Holt, as well as Browner who bit on the play action, on a post pattern for a big TD.  Simms would celebrate the 25 yard TD, and Allegre's extra point would be good, despite Stensrud coming offsides, and the Giants took a 19-13 lead with 9:30 to go in the game.

Allegre's kickoff went, surprisingly, 8 yards deep in the end zone for a touchback.  Meanwhile, Kramer's day was done with the thumb injury, so backup, and more mobile, Wade Wilson came on to take over as QB.  Wilson, who had only thrown 6 passes in the season to this point, started off with a draw to Nelson up the middle, and he again had a good burst for a first down out to the 32 yard line, stopped by LT and Hill.  wilson's 2nd play was a roll out on a bootleg and would connect with Jordan for another first down, this time out to the Giants' 48, tackled by Williams, as Wilson absorbed a hit from Carson behind the play.  Wilson would throw again on the next play, this time he had LT draped all over him, and he would hit Jordan at the 34, stopped by Headen, but again moved the chains.  The party would end for wilson on the next play, as a safety blitz in his face from Welch forced a pass to Anderson that was snuffed out by LT, and the Vikings were lucky he dropped the ball, or else they would have suffered a 12 yard loss.  Minnesota would stay in the air again, this time Wilson had time to throw and he tried to loft a touch pass to Jordan, who had beaten Banks in coverage, but the ball was out of reach and fell incomplete.  On 3rd and 10, Bill Belichick wanted to rattle Wilson again with a blitz, but whenever you blitz you take a risk.

In this case, the Giants came with an all out blitz from their linebackers, but the Vikings' line picked it up.  When that happens, you leave your corners in a man to man situation against the receivers.  Perry Williams happened to be matched with Anthony Carter, and that wasn't a good thing for New York.  It further didn't help that Welch didn't come over to help out but rather stayed up to shadow Wilson.  Of course, AC burned Williams to haul in a perfectly thrown pass for a TD in the corner of the end zone, good for 33 yards and with the extra point made the score 20-19 Minnesota in the lead with 6:53 to go in the game.

Nelson's kickoff would go to Miller at the 8 yard line, and he took it to the 22, stopped by Carl Hilton.  On first down, Simms would flip a pass out to OJ Anderson as a safety valve in the flat, and OJ would turn it up the field to the 32 yard line, close to a first down, stopped just short by Studwell.  On 2nd and a short 1, Jeff Hostetler came out at WR, but Simms would take the snap and plow forward on a QB sneak to the 33 and a first down.  Simms would again dunk the ball off to OJ who would run over Studwell and take it for a 6 yard gain to the 39.  Simms had so much fun throwing to OJ, he did it again on the next play, dumping it off to him at the 40, but this time Studwell and Martin came charging in to nail him after just a 2 yard gain.  On 3rd and 1 at the 41, Simms tried to hit Morris on a wheel route down the sidelines, but the ball was overthrown, even though Morris had beaten the Vikings' Harris by several steps.  Morris argued for a pass interference penalty, but no flag was forthcoming.  Landeta would punt the ball towards Bess at the 4 yard line, where he fielded it and raced up the sidelines to the 17 yard line before going out of bounds with 3:53 to go in the game.

The Vikings were clearly in clock killing mode at this point.  They began with a sprint draw to Nelson, but he was taken down by Reasons after a 2 yard gain to the 19.  Wilson would drop back and hit Nelson out of the backfield, but he was swarmed by Carson and Martin and finally slung backwards by Burt at the 20.  The Vikings needed a play to keep the clock running and keep the ball from the Giants.  Yet again, the Giants defense made a play

While Wilson hadn't had much experience, he wasn't a young QB.  He was in his 6th year and was 27 years old.  So in this situation, he was aware of not throwing an incompletion or pick, and also staying out of bounds.  Wilson rolled around past Banks and Martin, and looked to try to get a pass off a bootleg.  However, Burt forced him to run up the field and Wilson tried to dive as close as he could to the the first and stay in bounds.  Carson was able to make his way over and stopped him at the 25 yard line, and the Giants called a crucial time out with 2:29 to go in the game.  Coleman came on to punt, and got off a high kick to the 29, but he out kicked his coverage, allowing McConkey to field it and sprint his way up the field to the 40 yard line, stopped by Soloman with 2:14 to go.

Simms would begin with a deep shot to a wide open Stacy Robinson, who had gotten behind Holt and the pass was right in his hands and he dropped what would have been a sure 60 yard TD.  That was Robinson's MO sadly.  The fastest Giant, but with iffy hands.  On 2nd and 10, Simms was under pressure from Studwell and with the linebacker around his waist, Simms would power away from him (and avoiding an in the grasp sack) and slung a pass to Johnson at the Vikings' 45 for a big first down at the 2 minute warning.  On first down, Simms would flip another pass to OJ, who caught it at the Vikings' 49, and chugged up the field, stiff arming Browner to the ground, but Browner took him down with him at the 43 yard line and a 2 yard gain.  With Galbreath in motion, Simms threw a crossing route to Johnson, but it went high and off his fingertips for an incompletion with 1:18 to go.  On 3rd down, the Vikings took a time out to regroup on defense.  In the gun on 3rd down, the Vikings came on an all out blitz, and Simms was engulfed by Doug Martin, Doleman, and Tim Newton.  Simms tried to float a pass in the direction of Galbreath, but he was ruled in the grasp and sacked at the Giants' 48 yard line with 1:12 to go in the game.  The Giants would call at time out on 4th and 17.  And then it happened

Simms was under center because it was far too loud to be in the shotgun.  As he took the snap, he was under pressure from Stensrud, who had bulled past Bavaro's attempted block.  However, Simms had just enough time to look for where Holt was on the field, as New York had been picking on him all day.  Johnson got past Holt and settled down at the 30 yard line, in front of Harris, where he caught the ball and was pushed out of bounds.  Simms ended up on the ground and had made an amazing, career defining type throw as the Metrodome crowd went quiet in disbelief.  With 1:06 to go, Doug Martin jumped offsides and was flagged for encroachment, giving the Giants 5 free yards to the 25.  Morris would take the handoff, burst around right end and was just ankle tackled by Chris Martin at the 17 yard line on a touchdown saving play.  Still, it was good for a first down, and the Giants would let the clock run down, as Jerry Burns apparently fell asleep on the sidelines while the clock went down to :30 before they would snap it again and hand off to Morris, who ran to the right again and the 15 yard line, stopped by Browner.  The Vikings would call their 2nd time out with :22 to go in the game.  On 2nd and 8, Morris took the ball right up the middle to set up a better field goal shot, and the Vikings called their final time out with :15 to go in the game.  On 3rd down, the Giants decided to take their shot at the field goal then and there, adhering to the old adage, if you botch the snap, you can fall on it and take another chance on 4th down.

None of that would be needed, Allegre, the former Colt who wasn't on the team as they broke camp, knew it was good immediately on the 32 yarder, and started his jump celebration as soon as he kicked it, and landed in the waiting arms of Gary Reasons.  His 5th field goal of the day gave the Giants a 22-20 lead with :12 to go in the game.

Allegre's kickoff would be a low line drive grabbed by Nelson at the 30.  However, with a chance to perhaps set up for a Hail Mary, the Vikings decided to go all Cal-Stanford and throw the ball all over the Metrodome, and ended with Chris Doleman, of all people, with the ball and 4 Giants surrounding him, putting an end to the lateral circus and gave the Giants a huge 22-20 win, keeping them in first play in the NFC East at 9-2, keeping pace with the Bears for the best record in the NFC, and set the state for talks of destiny.

The Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits

  • Going into this game, the Giants led the NFL with 40 sacks, as LT and Marshall had provided 24 of them.  In this game alone, LT got 2 sacks and Marshall got 1. 
  • OJ Anderson would catch 4 passes in this game.  Anderson was seldom used after coming over from the Cardinals in 1986, and it would stand up as the most catches he had in a game until he caught 5 passes in a 31-10 beating at the hands of the Rams in LA in 1989.  In all, Anderson was an underrated pass catching back.  In 1984, he caught 12 passes for 124 yards in the season finale loss at Washington and he also caught 11 passes a few weeks prior in a loss to the Rams.  Anderson would end up catching 70 passes in 1984.
  • This was the first back to back road wins by the Giants since 1981, when they beat the Seahawks by the score of 32-0 and then went on the road to beat the Falcons 27-24 in OT.
  • The Giants didn't wait too long to match the feat again.  They were able to do it a few weeks later in 1986, beating the 49ers on a Monday Night, and then the Redskins to essentially win the NFC East.  It was the Giants final road game of 1986, until Super Bowl XXI
  • After 1986, the Giants won back to back road games again in 1988, winning two underwhelming games at Atlanta and in overtime in Detroit.
  • This was the Giants first meeting vs. the Vikings in 10 years, when Minnesota beat the Giants 24-7 in Metropolitan Stadium.  That Viking team would finish 11-2-1, beat the Redskins and Rams in the playoffs and lose Super Bowl XI to the Oakland Raiders, coached by John Madden, by the score of 32-14.  It would be the final appearance in a Super Bowl by the Vikings after making the trip 3 previous times since 1970, all losses.  The Giants record in 1976?  3-11.
  • In a weird schedule quirk, the Giants would not face the Vikings again in Minnesota until 2001, where the Vikings "avenged" the 2000 NFC Championship curb stomping by beating the Giants 28-16 on a Monday Night game
  • In the meantime, between 1986 and 2001 the Giants would face the Vikings in the Meadowlands 8 times
    • 1989: Giants 24 - Vikings 14:  A Monday Night game on the night before Halloween.  Simms would get hurt and Hostetler would come off the bench to win, thanks to 3 Vikings' turnovers, including 2 Alfred Anderson fumbles on kickoff returns and a Pepper Johnson pick 6.
    • 1990: Giants 23 - Vikings 15:  Game known for Parcells coming out of the hospital to coach despite an attack of kidney stones the night before and a late comeback thanks to LT's 2.5 sack effort.
    • 1993: Giants 17 - Vikings 10:  Wild Card Playoff game.  LT and Simms final home game.  Rodney Hampton runs for 161 yards, including a 51 yard TD run.
    • 1994: Giants 10 - Vikings 27:  Another Monday Night game.  This time Warren Moon outduels Dave Brown.  Shocker.
    • 1996: Giants 15 - Vikings 10: The Vikings were 4-0 and somehow blew this game to a terrible Giants team.
    • 1997: Giants 22 - Vikings 23: Horrible choke by the Giants in the Wild Card round.  The Giants defensive players were literally fighting with each other both on the sidelines and during the game.  The Gmen blow a 1-3 lead and botch an onside kick recovery that would have won the game.  Let's not discuss this anymore.
    • 1999: Giants 17 - Vikings 34:  Randy Moss would throw a TD to Cris Carter
    • 2000: Giants 41 - Vikings 0: NFC Championship game.  The score was 34-0 at the half.  The only thing that stopped the Giants that day was the end zone.  The entire 4th quarter was played with Jason Garrett at QB and Joe Montgomery at RB.  Talk about garbage time.
  • This game featured a battle between 2 Ivy Leaguers.  Kenny Hill, the Giants safety, went to Yale.  The vikings' TE Steve Jordan, who would earn his first of 6 straight Pro Bowls in 1986, went to Brown University.   The Giants team featured a few other Ivy Schoolers over the years on their roster as well.
    • Jason Garrett: Princeton.  Known now as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys (until Jerry decides to fire him when he goes 8-8 again), Garrett made his name as a backup QB to Troy Aikman during the Cowboys dynasty years and his most memorable performance came in 1994, when he filled in for an injured Aikman in the Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers.  The Packers would take a 17-3 lead in the 2nd quarter, and Garrett would lead the Cowboys on a furious comeback, going 15-26, 311 yards and 2 TDs in a 42-31 win.  He would win 2 rings with the Cowboys, in 1993 and 1995.  Garrett would play for the Giants from 2000 - 2003 and would function as Kerry Collins' backup during the Super Bowl season, and actually came in for mop up duty early in the 4th quarter, where he would only throw 4 passes and basically hand it off to Joe Montgomery to wind down the clock in the 41-0 win.  Garrett would finish his career in 2004, starting with Tampa Bay and finishing in Miam
    • Keith Elias- Princeton.  If there ever was a Hall of Fame for the pre-season, Elias would be a first ballot entrant.  A legend.  Elias was an all out heart player, who would put up huge numbers in August playing in the second half against the oppositions late round draft picks/ UDFAs and that would do enough to impress the coaching staff to win out on some of the final roster spots.  However, he never made much of an impact as a running back over the course of wht would turn out to be a 5 year career (3 with the Giants and 2 with the Colts) before he was out of football by the 2000 season.  Elias' biggest impact play came in 1995, when he technically caused a fumble (instead of a blocked punt) from the Eagles' Tommy Hutton and it was returned 41 yards for a TD by Omar Douglas in a 17-14 loss in a game better known as the one in which Tommy Maddox started at QB and put up a 0.0 rating.
    • Jeff Hatch: UPenn.  Hatch was a cautionairy tale in so many ways.  Hatch was a 3rd round pick in 2002, and the Giants were looking for help on the OL.  So, in a case where they drafted for a need, and with not much else available at tackle, they decided ot pick Hatch.  13 picks later, another draftee was taken who also played his college ball in Philadelphia, that would be running back Brian Westbrook out of Villanova, for the Eagles.  To be fair, you can play this draft game in hindsight for anyone, but it is what it is.  The bigger problem for Hatch, he just wasn't very good.  His biggest mark came when he balked at joining the rookie camp, which was standard, because he was looking for an injury protection clause before participating.  It was an unprecidented request, and when you think about it, does make sense (this is a UPenn guy after all).  However, it rubbed the organization the wrong way, and Hatch was behind in his development and limited by injury.  He would last only 2 seasons with the Giants, starting 4 games for the Giants in 2003 after the wheels had completely come off the Fassel bandwaggon.  Coughlin sent him packing and Hatch spent time with the Rams and Bucs before fading away from the NFL after the 2005 season.
    • Jim Finn- UPenn.  Finn was a local guy, pretty much Bergen County, NJ through and through.  Born in Teaneck, raised in Fair Lawn, played at Bergen Catholic.  Finn was a running back in college, when he left he had totaled the 4th most rushing yards in Quaker history.  Finn was also given the honor as being Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick of the 1999 NFL Draft, taken by the Bears.  Finn was waived and spent the season on Chicago's practice squad.  He went to the Colts in 2000, where he played for 3 seasons, helping to clear a path for Edge James in the Peyton Manning led offense.  He signed with the Giants in 2003 as a free agent, and he helped block for Tiki Barber during Tiki's career rebirth.  Finn's career was cut short due to shoulder problems and was forced to retire after the 2006 season, just missing out on a ring the next year.  In recent years, Finn has been in the news related to a nasty divorce with actress Rosa Blasi.
    • Kevin Boothe- Cornell.  Boothe was drafted by the Raiders in the 6th round of the 2006 draft.  Boothe would be released by the Raiders in 2007, and picked up by the Giants and placed on their practice squad.  The Giants would take their time in developing Boothe, and he would begin to work his way into the starting lineup by 2010 after injuries took their toll on the line.  By 2011, Boothe would settle in at left guard and would start every game in 2012 and 2013.  Boothe would rejoin the Raiders as a free agent in 2014.
    • Zak DeOssie- Brown University.  Can you make a case for DeOssie as the Giants' best Ivy League player in the team's recent history, even as "just a long snapper?"  DeOssie was a linebacker in college, who was taught the skill of long snapping on punts and field goals/extra points by his father Steve, a former NFL linebacker, who played for the Cowboys, Patriots, Jets, and won a championship with the Giants in 1990.  While his father was able to get in the regular defensive rotation with the Giants, Zak hasn't been able to see the field on defense.  But after the debacles of the 2002 season with long snappers, leading to the tragic Trey Junkin moment in the playoffs in San Francisco, the Giants placed a premium on long snapping.  When DeOssie was taken in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, he started as a long snapper on punts (fellow rookie Jay Alford handled the extra points/field goals.)  He would take over the full time long snapping duties after an injury to Alford and has since become one of the most consistent long snappers in the game, and to boot, he's usually one of the first down on punt coverage involved in the tackles.  DeOssie has been named to the Pro Bowl twice (2008 and 2010) and is one of the team captains.
  • Tommy Kramer had 21 TDs going into this game and was enjoying his best season as a pro.  Kramer would go to the Pro Bowl in 1986, the only one of his 14 year career.  After the injury suffered to the Giants, Kramer would end up missing the next 3 weeks of the season, with Wade Wilson taking his spot.  Kramer would return in Week 14 against the Packers and lead them to a blowout victory, 32-6, which put the Vikings' record at 8-6 and in control of their own destiny for a Wild Card berth.  However, in playing against the 3-11 Houston Oilers in the Astrodome, Kramer's and the Vikings' season would come to an end.  The Oilers were an up and coming team despite their record, with Warren Moon beginning to estabilish himself, and a young defense loaded with talent.  Minnesota would turn the ball over 6 times, Kramer would injure his elbow and miss the remainder the game, and the rest of the season, as the Vikings would lose 23-10, dropping their record to 8-7 and eliminating them from the playoffs because they would have a worse record than the Redskins, 49ers, and Rams.
  • There were actually many parallels to the Kramer/Wilson QB tandem to the Simms/Hostetler QB duo.  Kramer was a pocket passer and Wilson was more mobile (similar to Simms/Hostetler).  Wilson was Kramer's backup for about 6 years, he finally got his chance in 1987, and helped lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.  He continued to share the starting duties with Kramer for a while, until Rich Gannon comae long to take the job from both of them and Kramer would join the Saints in 1990 before retiring.  Wilson continued to play, spending time with the Falcons, Saints, Cowboys (where he won a ring as a backup in 1995) and finish with the Raiders.  
  • Jerry Burns was a 59 year old "rookie" head coach, however, he had been coaching in the NFL since 1966 when he was on Vince Lombardi's staff in Green Bay for 2 seasons.  He joined the Vikings staff in 1968 as the offensive coordinator under Bud Grant for 18 years through 1985, when Grant retired.  Keeping the lineage alive, rather than go for a young head coach or someone new to the team, Burns took over in 1986.  With Floyd Peters as his defensive coordinator, Burns focused on the offense and Peters on defense.  Burns would lead the Vikings to the playoffs in 1987 (NFC Championship game, losing to the eventual champion Redskins) and also in 1988 (losing in the 2nd round to the eventual champion 49ers).  By 1989, the Vikings were considered to be Super Bowl quality.  They had one of the best defenses in the NFL.  They had play makers in Anthony Carter and Steve Jordan.  What was missing was an explosive running back and were middling at 3-2.  Enter Herschel Walker.  The Cowboys had stripped down their team in 1989, firing Tom Landry and hiring Jimmy Johnson.  Johnson wanted to rebuild his team and he was able to trade his one remaining chip, Walker.  And what a trade it turned out to be.  The Cowboys and Vikings would agree to what eventually became an 18 player swap.  Walker, at age 28, was dealt before the deadline to the Vikings.  Walker would never really fit in with the Minnesota scheme, rushing for 669 yards in 11 games and never provided the huge impact as expected.  the Vikings would eventually right their ship and win the NFC Central at 10-6, toppling the Bears' dynasty, but would, again, bow out in the playoffs at San Francisco in the 2nd round by the no so close score of 41-13.  That would be as far as Burns would take the Vikings again.  they stumbled in 1990, going 6-10 and scuffled to 8-8 in 1991.  Burns would retire in 1991 and the Vikings would name Denny Green as their new head coach.  Dallas meanwhile took the Walker trade and was able to turn around and draft a few nobodies like Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, and Darren Woodson.  Yes, Giants fans have nearly as much reason to hate former Vikings' GM Mike Lynn as any Viking fan for reloading the Cowboy dynasty.