Thursday, May 21, 2015

1994 Giants @ Browns

Week 14

The Setup

Replacing a legend is one of the toughest things to do in any walk of life.  Whether it's in the business world or politics or even in a family, no one wants to be "that person" who has to take those inevitable reigns.  And there is no more glaring example of this than in sports.  Fans and media alike all know when they have an All Star or even Hall of Fame level player on their team.  And when that player eventually moves on, either via retirement or heading to a different team via trade/release, someone has to take that player's spot/role on a roster.

One of the most underappreciated Giants in recent history was QB Phil Simms.  Simms had plenty of ups and downs over the course of his 15 year career.  The first moment he was announced as the Giants first round draft pick out of Morehead State in the 1979 draft, the Giants fans booed the selection.   Simms actually had a winning record as a rookie in 1979, going 6-5, but would miss time due to injuries.  That would be a theme for him over the next few years, which included him missing the remainder of the 1981 season, as Scott Brunner led the Giants to the playoffs.  Simms would miss the 1982 season and in 1983, with new head coach Bill Parcells at the helm, lost a QB battle to Brunner and was forced to back up.  Simms demanded a trade, but the Giants never pulled the trigger.  In 1984, Simms would take over at QB and would finally establish himself as a top level NFL QB.  In 1984, Simms would throw for a career high 4044 yards and 22 TDs leading the Giants to the playoffs.  In 1985, again Simms would make the playoffs, and he would throw for 3829 yards and another 22 TDs, and this time not only make the Pro Bowl, but be named MVP.  In 1986, Simms would lead the Giants to a 14-2 record, and win the Super Bowl, where his 22-25, 268 yard, 3 TD performance was one of the best passing marks in NFL Championship history and he won the MVP.  Simms would hold the starting spot through the 1990 season, when a foot injury against the Bills would end his season, and open the door for Jeff Hostetler to take over at QB and lead the Giants to an improbably Super Bowl victory against Buffalo.

Simms hit a crossroads after that.  In 1991, Parcells had resigned, citing health issues.  That set in motion a new coach, when Ray Handley took over.  I already discussed the whole Ray Handley decision in the 1991 Giants vs Oilers review, but the bottom line was there was an epic QB controversy/battle going into the season opener on a Monday Night against the 49ers.  Handley decided to go with the younger, more mobile Hostetler and Simms was demoted to 2nd string.  Simms would sit on the bench, until he was forced into action when Hostetler was lost for the season with a broken back against Tampa Bay, where Simms led a comeback victory in what would become an 8-8 lost season.

By 1992, the Giants would put a great focus on the QB slot.  First of all, Handley would reverse course and put Simms back in at QB and make Hostetler his backup.  George Young also took a long hard look at the age at the QB position.  Simms was 37 years old.  Hostetler was 31.  The Giants hadn't done much to groom any young QBs since the 1980s, when Simms began his run.  They took fliers on draftees like Mike Perez, Craig Kupp, and Larry Wanke.  Needless to say, none of them stuck.  In 1992, in the regular draft, they would take Kent Graham, a former Notre Dame QB who transferred to Ohio State in the 8th round.  And later in the summer, when most people barely were paying attention, the Giants would stun their fans by dipping into the little known Supplemental Draft, and utilized their first round pick (which counted against the 1993 draft) by taking New Jersey native Dave Brown out of Duke.  Playing at a noted basketball powerhouse, Brown had put up big numbers under a bright young offensive head coach named Steve Spurrier.  The Giants decided his tools were too much to pass up and picked Brown.  As it would turn out, all 4 QBs would end up playing in 1992.  Simms was the starter in the season, but got hurt against the Raiders and was lost for the season.  Hostetler took over and played pretty well, until he got hurt with a concussion.  The Giants would see their 2 rookies, Brown and Graham each get playing time in a 6-10 season that ended the Handley run.

In 1993, Dan Reeves put an end to the QB controversy.  He picked Simms as his starter.  Hostetler was sent on his way, ending up with the Raiders.  Graham and Brown were the backups.  Simms would end up having a tremendous season at age 38.  He would lead the Giants to an 11-5 record, pass for 3038 yards and 15 TDs and be named to the Pro Bowl.

Bill Parcells had long said that Giants fans wouldn't appreciate Phil Simms until he was gone.  And in 1994, fans would end up finding that out.  The Giants were big spenders in the 1993 free agency period, which was prior to the salary cap.  In 1994, the Giants were completely mismanaged cap wise and had to cut tons of salary.  So they started purging a number of big name players.  In addition to Lawrence Taylor's retirement, the Giants had to let several long time players go, including Bart Oates, Mark Collins, Myron Guyton, Greg Jackson and Bob Kratch.  But the Giants still needed to cut more salary.  And then came one of the more regrettable moments in Giants history.  Simms was coming off shoulder surgery and was rehabbing with the team.  In the summer of 1994, there was a bunch of distractions going on in NY.  Both the Knicks and Rangers were playing in their respective championships, pretty much every night there was playoff game going on at Madison Square Garden.  In baseball, the specter of a strike loomed over everyone's heads, while the Yankees were busy posting the best record in the American League.  And for good measure, a well liked former Buffalo Bill running back named OJ Simpson had captivated the nation's attention following the murder of his ex-wife and a restaurant employee, when he and his friend Al Cowlings were part of a low speed police chase through Los Angeles as they drove in a white bronco.  On June 15th, while the city was focused on the Rangers' ticker tape parade after winning the Stanley Cup, Reeves called Simms into his office.  Simms thought he was going to ask him to sign some footballs for charity.  Instead, he informed him that he had played his last game as a Giant, and was asked if he would like to retire or be released.  Simms was stunned choose to be released, and the Giants called a hastily arranged press conference.  As the story goes, Wellington Mara was brought to tears and didn't want to have it go this way, but George Young was not moved and said this was the only choice.  Simms would continue to rehab, he would flirt for a time, reportedly with the Browns and Cardinals, but would retire and become a broadcaster.

Keeping in mind all of thee above, that left the Giants with 2 young QBs left behind to battle it out for the honor to replace Simms.  Brown vs. Graham.  Needless to say, when you have a first round pick battling an 8th round pick, the competition is not truly "open".  So the winner of the battle was Dave Brown.  Now, there are a handful of times when a team is fortunate enough to go from one franchise QB right to another one and continue winning.  With the Niners you had Joe Montana to Steve Young.  The Packers had Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.  The Colts had Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck (with one season of Curtis Painter tanking when Peyton was hurt, putting them in position to draft Luck first overall).  More often than not, teams who move on from a franchise QB, do not have the same good fortune.  So it was for Dave Brown, who took over as the starter in 1994 and held the job until he was knocked out of the Week 6 matchup with the Cowboys in 1997 and Danny Kanell took over.  Brown would start 53 games for the Giants, going 23-30 in that span.  He would never throw for over 300 yards in a game.  He never led the Giants to a playoff appearance.  But all in all, it really wasn't all on Brown himself for his subpar NFL career.  In no particular order

  1. Brown was the first real Spurrier prospect-  When Brown was made available for the draft, the Steve Spurrier system was still not well understood by scouts.  He had a legendary career at the University of Florida, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966.  As he got into coaching, he started off as a Head Coach in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits.  As the league disbanded, Spurrier took over as head man at Duke and he brought the program to heights it hadn't seen, as he led them to back to back Bowl games and tied for the 1989 ACC Championship.  Spurrier's success moved him on to Florida, but one of his big recruits going into the 1989 season was Brown, who threw for 1479 yards and 14 TDs in 8 games.  Brown had a down year in 1990 under a new head coach, but still running a variation of the Spurrier system in 1991, Brown established himself as what looked like a legit QB prospect, throwing 2794 and 20 TDs.  When you look at Brown's size (6'5", 230 pounds) and decent arm, he seemed like a guy who had the tools to be a good NFL player and worthy of a first round pick.  But if you go back and look at the Spurrier QBs in the 1990s at Florida, something jumps out at you:  Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerfful, Terry Dean, Doug Johnson, Jesse Palmer, Rex Grossman.  They are all names of guys who, if you followed college football, knew that they put up big numbers in the spread offense against college defenses.  And those that made the NFL were mediocre at best NFL QBs.  The bottom line, Spurrier produced QBs who's system enhanced their numbers, inflated them against bad competition, and did not set them up to be good professional QBs.  NFL teams have learned their lesson.  After Spurrier's failed stint with the Redskins and he returned to college to coach South Carolina, look at the QBs who he has had on his roster: Blake Mitchell, Chris Smelley, Stephen Garcia, and Connor Shaw.  His most recent QB, Dylan Thompson figures to be nothing more than an extra arm invited to a training camp.  Dave Brown's career ultimately was more or less the same that we saw from the other Spurrier QBs later on and the NFL scouts now understood that their success doesn't translate on the next level.  In order to learn from mistakes, you have to make them first.  Unfortunately for the Giants, they invested a first round pick in a guy who was good for a Spurrier offense, but wasn't going to work in the NFL.
  2. Brown wasn't given much to work with-   To read the "weapons" that Dave Brown had to work with over the course of his career.  Look at the WRs he had from 1994-1996.  Mike Sherrard (at a very old 31 coming off tons of injuries throughout his career), Chris Calloway, Arthur Marshall, Thomas Lewis, Omar Douglas, Joey Smith, Kevin Alexander, and Lawrence Dawsey.  His TEs at any given time were guys like Howard Cross (blocking TE), Aaron Pierce (talented but inconsistent) and scrubs like Brian Saxton and Brian Kozlowski.  His best weapon by far was Rodney Hampton, who would rush for over 1000 yards from 1991-1996, but he became more of a plodding power fullback by the tail end of his career because....
  3. Dan Reeves conservative style-  When Reeves came over from Denver, there were reports that Elway was thrilled to see him leave because he clashed with him and his style never truly fit with the Broncos' franchise QB.  Reeves and Elway made 3 Super Bowls together and had tons of success (when they weren't getting blown out in said Super Bowls).  However, Elway was still able to put up numbers and succeed because...well, because he was a first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best QBs in NFL history.  Dave Brown was something less than that.  So Reeves would drive Hampton into the ground, telegraph his plays so it was hand offs to Hampton on the first 2 plays, set up 3rd and 6 and a pass to an underwhelming receiving corps and a less than stout offensive line.  It's no wonder Brown didn't get much done.
  4. The Giants defense was in transition as well-  The last vestiges of the Parcells/Belichick defense faded away after the 1993 season.  As mentioned earlier, LT retired.  The entire secondary left as free agents.  And while they did have some promising young players like Michael Strahan, Keith Hamilton, Jesse Armstead, and Jason Sehorn, those guys experienced growing pains in 1994-1996.  Too many retreads were playing big minutes in games, guys like John Booty, Vencie Glenn, Coleman Rudolph, Mike Croel, and Jarvis Williams.  Simms happened to have one of the best defenses in the NFL backing him up.  So even if he had a bad game, the Giants defense was good enough to not only shut down an opponent, they could dominate them and take the ball away.  Brown didn't have the same benefits, putting him in a situation where his defense wasn't able to set him up as well as Simms' did, nor could they mask some of his mistakes.  In fact, the opposite was true, any mistakes that Brown had, say a turnover, were magnified because the defense wasn't good enough to help overcome them.
  5. Competition- For Brown, he also was burdened with the fact that he was quarterbacking a team in transition, while going up against a dynasty in his own division.  By the time he took over in 1994, the Cowboys were well established as the best team in the NFL.  They won back to back Super Bowls and they would win the NFC East each year from 1992-1996, including another Super Bowl in 1995 (plus made the NFC Title game in 1994 against a loaded 49ers team).  So when he took over, any hopes for winning the division were kind of gone before the season started.  It was hope for a wild card.  It wasn't until 1997, when the Cowboy dynasty finally began to crumble did the Giants topple them...and when they did, their QB was Kanell, who kept the job after Brown lost it due to injury. 
So, what does all of this stuff have to do with the 1994 Giants @ Browns game?  In my estimation, all things considered, this was the most impressive win in Dave Brown's Giants' career.  As noted, Brown won 23 games in 3 years, averaging about 7 wins a year.  And Brown only beat 4 teams who finished with a winning record
  • 1994- Browns (11-5), Cowboys (12-4)
  • 1996- Vikings (9-7), Cowboys (10-6)
You would think the 1994 Cowboys win would be the most impressive, but the reality is that it was the last game of the year, and Dallas had clinched the #2 seed.  So Barry Switzer pretty much benched all his starters after half time and the Giants were able to beat the Dallas backups.  The 1996 Dallas win, as fun as it was, clearly was a case where the Cowboys looks past the Giants and played awfully.  The Viking game was a snore.  But the Browns game was by far the most impressive.

First of all, the Giants were going up against the Browns who had finally bought into the Bill Belichick system.  In his 4th year in Cleveland, Belichick had the Browns at 9-3 entering this game, coming off a blowout victory against the Oilers the week before.  They had one of the best defenses in the AFC, led by a former Giant in Pepper Johnson and a young safety in Eric Turner.  The Browns had a power running back in Leroy Hoard, an elusive scat back in Eric Metcalf, and a strong armed QB in Vinny Testaverde.  They were a tough home team, going 5-1 into this game, including 5 straight.  

Meanwhile the Giants had started to turn their season around.  They started out 3-0, lost their next 7 straight, and then managed to eek out 2 straight road wins against Houston and Washington, heading into their 3rd straight road game.

So Brown brought the Giants into a hostile environment, in a December game in Cleveland, against a team that was one of the best in the AFC and were fighting for a divisional crown and their first playoff berth since 1989.  And wouldn't you know it...Dave Brown found a way to win.

The Game Highlights

Browns were 9-3 entering this game, .5 games back of the Steelers who won earlier in the day.  The Giants were 5-7, behind the Eagles at 7-6 and Cowboys at 11-2.  Browns only allowed 5 TDs on the year in Cleveland Stadium going into this game.  Daluiso would kick off to start the game, and it was high and short (for Daluiso), taken at the 7 yard line by Randy Baldwin, took the ball to the 25 yard line, tackled by Gary Downs.  Jerry Markbreit would throw a flag for a hold on the Browns, sending them back to the 16.  Vinny under center would drop back with time and dump it off to Ernest Byner to the 18 yard line, tackled by Corey Miller.  2nd and 7, a handoff to Eric Metcalf up the middle and he was able to burst ahead to the 24 yard line, stopped by Michael Brooks, Marcus Buckley and Jesse Armstead, about 2 yards shy of the first down.  Vinny would go under center and drop back, with time to throw he would drill a pass in to former Buc Mark Carrier at the 31 yard line, good for a first down and tackled by Armstead.  On first down, the Browns would drop back again, with time initially but no one open, Vinny took off up the field for a nice gain out to the 38 yard line where he dove down and was covered up by Carlton Bailey. Cleveland would go with a power run by Leroy Hoard over the right side, dragging Corey Miller all the way to the 45 when Jesse Campbell finally got him down with a big hit, but more than enough to move the chains.  First down, with 3 wide receivers, Vinny dropped back and threw a curl route to Michael Jackson, who dove for it but dropped the ball at the Giants’ 45.  2nd and 10, the Giants would blitz and Vinny would hand off to Metcalf on a delayed draw and Metcalf did his usual act of darting and juking his way around defenders and accelerating all the way to the Giants’ 37 yard line where he was taken down by Campbell.  The drive continuing, Vinny would fake a handoff to Hoard and drop back, but with no one open, would dump off to Hoard in the flat, but the big running back dropped the pass.  2nd and 10, Vinny back and threw a dart to Derrick Alexander over the middle on a curl for a 15 yard gain to the 23  yard line, taken down by Corey Raymond.  First down, another play action pass and Vinny took his shot in the end zone for Jackson, but the ball was batted away by Raymond and nearly into the arms of Carrier.  2nd and 10, as the Giants crashed in to tackle Metcalf for a loss, the refs blew the play dead due to a false start on Doug Dawson.  So 2nd and 15, the Giants blitz was easily picked up but Vinny had no one open, so he dropped it off to his safety valve in Byner, who caught it but was tackled immediately by Buckley at the 24.  3rd and 11, Vinny again with plenty of time, tried to go in the back corner of the end zone to Carrier, but the ball was just over thrown as Willie Beamon flirted with a pass interference but the refs kept the flag in their pocket.  Matt Stover would come on to convert a 41 yard field goal, right down the middle, his 15th consecutive field goal, and gave the Browns a 3-0 with 8:55 to go in the first quarter, capping a 13 play, 60 yard drive in 6:05.

Stover would kick off to Dave Meggett at the 6, and he would cut his way up to the 27 yard line, stopped by Gerald Dixon.  However, a low block called on Greg Bishop brought the Giants back to the 13 yard line.  Dave Brown at quarterback, and he would start with a fake to Hampton and then dumped off to fullback Kenyon Rasheed, who snagged it at the 14 yard line and turned up the field, dragging Eric Turner all the way to the 22 yard line, just shy of a first down.  2nd and 1, the handoff went to Rodney Hampton, was met in the backfield by Stevon Moore, and was stopped a half yard short of the first.  So 3rd and a short 1, the Giants shifted in the backfield, and Brown took the ball himself on a sneak and was actually able to run behind left guard to the 25 yard line, for a first down, stopped by Turner.  First and 10, with 2 TEs, Brown back, again threw to Rasheed in the flat where he made the catch at the 27, got around Carl Banks (something that would have never happened in his prime), and got the ball to the 36 yard line, a 12 yard gain, knocked out of bounds by Don Griffin, but good for a first down.  The Giants would pitch back to Hampton running around left end, and he was strung out and hit down by Moore after a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, Brown took too long to audible and the Giants got dinged with a delay of game making it 2nd and 13.  When it looked bad, suddenly, the Giants made a play

The Browns would run a blitz, but the Giants line did a great job picking it up and gave Brown time to rainbow a deep pass towards Mike Sherrard who caught it at the 39 yard line and took it all the way the way to the Browns’ 22 yard line on a 38 yard pass, before he was forced out by Turner and Griffin.  First down, a handoff to Hampton who broke a tackle attempt by Pepper Johnson in the backfield, squared his shoulders, and powered straight ahead dragging Turner and Mike Stams to the 15 yard line.  2nd and 3, Hampton again took the carry up the middle and was chopped down by Rob Burnett at the 12, but got another first down.  The Giants would go with a quick count and hand off to Hampton who got it to the 10 yard line where he was corralled by Dan Footman and thrown down.  2nd and 7, Brown back tried to dump it off to Hampton on a safety valve, but the ball was a little behind him and Hampton dropped it.  The Fox cameras would cut to the Giants bench with a miserable looking Jumbo Elliott who was out with back spasms and Bishop in at left tackle.  You would start feeling bad on 3rd and 7...however

The Browns would only rush their down 4 linemen and get pressure on Brown, hitting him as he threw.  However, TE Aaron Pierce managed to get lost in the Browns’ zone and sit down at the goal line between Moore and Turner, to catch it and spin into the end zone for a huge TD.  Announcer Jerry Glanville, a former head coach of the Oilers and Falcons, noted that Brown wasn’t going to Pierce, but looked off the coverage and should be given credit for that score.  Fine with me.  Replays would later show that it was actually Pepper who blew the coverage, following Meggett out of the backfield and letting Pierce sit down behind him.  David Treadwell banged through the extra point to make it 7-3 with 2:42 to go in the first quarter capping the Giants own marathon 11 play, 87 yard march in 6:13.

Daluiso’s kickoff was taken by Baldwin at the 15, and up the sidelines to the 31 yard line, pushed out by Corey Widmer.  The Browns offense took the field and started with a handoff to Hoard running to his right, and Campbell came up to take him down at the line of scrimmage for no gain.  2nd and 10, Metcalf in motion, Vinny dropped back and threw to an open TE Brian Kinchen that sailed on him and fell incomplete.  3rd and 10, Vinny under center, with time, took a deep shot to Alexander, who got behind Beamon and Tito Wooten to catch the ball at the Giants’ 30 yard line and he took it to the 26 yard line, good for a 43 yard gain, and if it was lead a little better would have been a touchdown.  First down, the handoff went to Hoard who ran to his left, but he was swallowed by Bailey, Widmer and Michael Strahan for a yard loss.  2nd and 11, Vinny back again, dumped it off to Metcalf at the 26, he made a move around Campbell and took it to the 21 yard line, stopped by John Booty on the final play of the first quarter.  The second quarter started with a 3rd and 5, and Vinny back to throw, hit Alexander on another curl at the 11 yard line, and he turned up to the 8 yard line, stopped by Beamon and Wooten, but good for the first down.  First and goal at the 8, a draw to Metcalf didn’t work at all, as Erik Howard barged into the backfield to grab the little scatback at the 13 yard line and drive him back to the 20 yard line where he threw him down.  2nd and 13, Alexander in motion and Vinny dropped the pass off to Byner at the 8 yard line and was taken down in the open field by rookie CB Thomas Randolph.  3rd and goal at the 8, Vinny back again, with the swing pass to Hoard at the 12 yard line, but he was hit hard by Beamon and Wooten and stood up, as the rest of the Giants defense came over and forced him out of bounds at the 8 yard line, with a small scuffle ensuing.  Stover came on to kick a 24 yarder, which was perfect again, his 16th straight and tied a Browns record held by Don Kochroe, making the score 7-6 Giants with 12:06 to go in the 2nd quarter.

Stover’s kickoff would go to Meggett at the 6 and he would cut his way up to the 20 yard line and shoved out of bounds by Turner.  On the play, the Browns best special teamer Bennie Thompson hurt his neck hitting Brian Kozlowski and went down for a while.  Brown began with a draw to Hampton running to his left, and he found a gap and literally lept past the first down marker and into Moore for a 12 yard gain to the 32 yard line.  First down, another pitch to Hampton running to his left and got the ball to the 34 where he was met by Pepper.  2nd and 8, Brown dropped back with time to throw, hit Sherrard on a slow developing crossing pattern at the 36, and he turned up the field and out of bounds at the 45 yard line for a first down, shoved out by Griffin.  Another run to Hampton, again to his left and behind Pierce, allowed him to cut up the field and took it to the Browns’ 49 yard line, stopped by Anthony Pleasant and several others.  2nd and 4, with Meggett in motion, Brown back, threw an underneath crossing route, this time to Chris Calloway, who caught it at the 44, and he also turned up the field and got it to the 42, knocked down by Banks and Pepper, but another first down.  The Giants would get flagged for a false start on William Roberts setting them back to 1st and 15, With Hampton as a single back, he took the handoff, found a crease going to his left and cut up the field for a 6 yard gain, stopped by Pleasant.  2nd and 9, Hampton took a delayed draw, and again went to this left, he broke a tackle from Pleasant at the line of scrimmage and then accelerated to the 32, stopped by Turner, but the Giants would get yet another first down by one chain length.  First down, the Browns fans cheering on their defense, the Giants gave another draw to Hampton, and yet again to the left, but this time, Pleasant and Stams were ready and hit him for a one yard loss.  2nd and 11, Brown audibled at the line and called for a play action pass and threw a deep route towards the end zone, but Sherrard didn’t get the audible and broke off his route.  3rd and 11, Brown would handoff to Meggett on a reverse that looked like it was supposed to be a halfback option (Meggett threw 2 TDs on similar plays in 1993, both against Washington), but the Browns defense didn’t fall for it, covered the receivers, surrounded Meggett and Footman dumped him for a loss back to the 35 yard line.  Reeves decided to go with the punt and Mike Horan boomed what was nearly a perfect kick by the corner, but the ball bounced away from Armstead and into the end zone for a touchback.  

The Browns started at the 20, and the first play was stalled by a false start on Cleveland, sending them back to 1st and 15, The Giants came on a blitz which was picked up well by the offensive line, but Alexander dropped an easy catch at the 25 yard line.  2nd and 15, Vinny stumbled going back into his drop and threw a deep route towards Alexander, who was double covered and the pass was nearly picked by Raymond.  3rd and 15, Vinny back again, set up a screen to Metcalf, who followed his blocks, and nearly got the first down, taking it to the 28, but Campbell came over to hit him down.  Tom Tupa came on for his first punt to Meggett, which was fielded at the 24, and he avoided the first Brown tackler and took it to the 32 yard line before he was hammered down with 4:51 to go in the half.

Hampton in a single back formation and Brown faked the hand off to him and rolled out to his right, set up and threw a strike to Howard Cross for a 16 yard gain, tackled by Stams.  First down at the 48, Brown tried a quick strike slant to Pierce in between 3 defenders and the ball was a tad behind him and he was lucky it wasn’t picked off.  2nd and 10, Brown back again, with time, dumped it off to Hampton, who bobbled it and it popped in the air at the 48 yard line, that delay held up the Browns defense for just a second and as he corralled it, Hampton was able to break a tackle and chug his way to the Cleveland 34 yard line, for a 23 yard gain, stopped by Banks.  1st and 10, with Calloway in motion, the play imploded on a false start called on Brown who pulled out from center without the ball.  1st and 15, a handoff to Hampton running to his left again, and he powered his way off tackle, carrying several Browns to the 33 yard line.  2nd and 7, Brown with a play action fake to Hampton that held up the Cleveland rush, and he took a deep shot to Calloway in the right corner of the end zone, and his diving attempt was just out of reach.  A flag was thrown on the play, which usually was defensive pass interference, but this time Markbreit called it on Calloway, making it 2nd and 17 at the 42.  Michael Dean Perry would jump offsides, giving the Giants a free play, so he heaved it towards Sherrard and the ball was broken up, but the Giants got 5 free yards, making it 2nd and 12 at the 38.  Brown under center, would drop back on a 3 step drop drill the pass into Sherrard, between two defenders, at the 28 yard line and he took it to the 27 yard line which took the clock to the 2 minute warning.  3rd and 3, Brown back and dumped off to Rasheed in the right flat at the 26 yard line and he was able to turn his shoulder and make it to 22 yard line and pushed out by Banks, but yet another first down.  A pitch to Hampton running to the left, but this time the Browns were ready, with Griffin charging in to take his legs out at the 23 for a loss.  2nd and 11, Brown would take the snap and roll out to his right, but there was no one open, so he threw the ball away, somewhat in the direction of Sherrard.  3rd and 11, Brown dropped back and dumped the ball off quickly to Meggett out of the backfield, who caught it at the 24 and lost his footing and fell down at the 21, covered up by Pepper.  The Browns decided to call at time out with 1:03 to go in order to give their offense a chance to do something with the ball after the field goal attempt on came Treadwell, who was an ice cold kicker to try a 37 yarder

Treadwell had missed 4 of his last 7 attempts including 2 straight going into this kick.  This one wasn’t even close, a feeble sideways duck off to the left that never had a chance and looked almost high schoolish.  

So the Browns got the ball at their own 27 yard line, and Vinny dropped back and tried a seam route to Alexander at the 40, where he alligator armed an attempted catch with Wooten bearing down on him, and the ball fell incomplete.  A flag behind the play for an illegal shift on set Cleveland back 5 yards and made it 1st and 15.  Vinny back, with plenty of time initially, and he would dump the ball off to Kinchen at the 23, and he would turn and head up the 32 yard line, where he was tripped (literally) by Beamon on what could have been called a legwhip.  With the clock running and under 30 seconds, they handed off to Hoard, who ran to his right and got the ball to the 37 yard line, tackled by Coleman Rudolph, and the Browns called their 2nd time out with :26 to go as the boo birds descended on the field.  Now 3rd and 1, with a single back, Vinny took the QB sneak for a gain good enough for the first, but his hard count brought Erik Howard offsides and gave them plenty of yardage for the first down, out to the 43 yard line with :23.  Vinny dropped back again, plenty of time, and he took a deep shot towards Jackson, but he was well covered by Randolph.  A hold on Tony Jones would hurt Cleveland, costing them 10 yards and only :16 to go.  Vinny would take a deep drop, dump it off to Hoard over the middle who was left alone at the 40, and he would chug his way to the 48 yard line, caught from behind by Armstead, but he got out of bounds with :08 to go.  On 2nd and 3 now, Vinny dropped and tried a quick out to Hoard, but Corey Miller batted it in the air and the ball fell incomplete.  It was time for a last ditch play by the Browns before halftime.

With :05 to go in the half, what looked to be Hail Mary time, with trips to the left, Vinny would dump the ball off to Kinchen at the 40, who tried the old hook and lateral back to Metcalf.  But Kinchen was rushed by Buckley and caused his lateral to go off the mark and past Metcalf where it was recovered by Miller at the 46 yard line to end the half as the Giants came off the field with a 7-6 lead.

Stover would kick off to start the 3rd quarter and it went to Arthur Marshall at the 12 yard line, and he would take it back to the 32 yard line, where he lost his footing and fell down in front of Turner.  The Giants would start off with a handoff to Hampton, who went to his left initially and he was stacked up, but they didn’t wrap him up, and he bounced off back up the middle for a 5 yard gain, taken down by Moore.  2nd and 5, a fake to Hampton didn’t do much to hold off the pass rush, as Pleasant got past Bishop to sack Brown back at the 32.  Now 3rd and 10, Brown rolled out to his left to avoid the rush and as he was getting hit by Rob Burnett, Brown threw towards Calloway down the sidelines, but the ball sailed and fell incomplete.  So a three and out and Horan came on for his 2nd punt, and got a good, high kick to Metcalf at the 25 yard line, where he was hit almost immediately by Armstead for no gain.

First and 10 for Cleveland, and they started with a run to Hoard, who burst off right end and through the line of scrimmage and got the ball all the way out to the 42 yard line, stopped by Booty and Armstead.  First down, another handoff to Hoard, who was hit in the backfield by Brooks, but he spun off of him and fell forward for a 1 yard gain.  2nd and 9, Vinny would again have time to throw and hit Alexander on a curl, at the Giants’ 46 and he would spin his way to the 45 yard line, stopped by Raymond, but a 13 yard gain and another first down.  The Browns would go back to the ground, handing off to Metcalf for a 2 yard gain, taken down by Keith Hamilton.  As the Browns looked to be settling into a good drive, craziness ensued.

Vinny went back to throw, and this time he got some pressure up the middle from Howard, and threw a pass that was meant to go to Alexander down field, but he didn’t see Brooks in the middle, who jumped up and snagged it at the 35 yard line and ran it back the other way.  Brooks, obviously not experienced in handling the ball, got popped by Jackson and he fumbled the ball, which looked like the Browns got the ball, however, Keith Hamilton got control of it eventually for a huge turnover and the Giants got it back at their own 49 yard line.

The Giants would start off with Brown dropping back and throwing too low for Pierce on his shoe strings and fell incomplete.  2nd and 10, Brown again back, with time, dumped to Meggett at the 44 in the flat and he turned it up the field and was shoved out at the Browns’ 46 by Stams.  However, a hold on Bishop set the Giants back to a 2nd and 20.  Brown handed off to Meggett on a sprint draw, that was stacked up by Burnett and Antonio Langham for a loss of another yard.  3rd and 21, Cleveland came with an all out blitz that forced Brown backwards and he slung a pass somewhat towards Marshall, but incomplete and a second straight 3 and out.  Horan came on to punt and then something happened that I have not seen before or since

There was a delay of game on the Giants, but they continued to play and Horan would punt the ball but he would get drilled on the block attempt by Mike Caldwell.  The play should have been dead after the delay of game, but because of the hit on Horan, the refs threw a second flag on the play, on Caldwell, for a personal foul of roughing the kicker.  Due to the 5 and 15 rule, where a 5 yard penalty cannot be offset by a 15 yard personal foul, the Giants were awarded a first down and the ball at the Cleveland 47 yard line, as Markbreit tried to explain the situation to a young Belichick and the Dog Pound coordinated on a “BS” chant.  After all of that, a playaction fake to Hampton and rollout by Brown to his right had no one open, and he took the ball down and ran ahead for a 5 yard gain to the 42 yard line and out of bounds.  2nd and 5, this time Hampton got the ball, and he plowed up the middle to the 38 yard line, hit by Pepper.  3rd and a short 2, Brown took a short drop and tried to hit Sherrard on a slant, but it was covered, so he scrambled to his right, pump faked and was able to just out run Pepper to the first down mark as he was taken down by his head.  First down, Brown’s pass, in the direction of Meggett over the middle, was batted down by Burnett.  2nd and 10, Brown back again, under heavy pressure was going down and he slung the ball just beyond the line of scrimmage, thus avoiding an intentional grounding penalty.  On 3rd and 10, the Giants called a time out with 7:21 to go in the 3rd quarter to regroup on the play.  Coming out of the time out, not sure what they had planned

Clearly, this isn’t what Reeves drew up.  Brown was under center as Cleveland came on a blitz, with pressure all around him, he just heaved a pass up the field, way over any Giants’ head, and into the waiting arms of Turner who picked it off at the 11 yard line, and he took it back to the 34 yard line before he was nailed down by Marshall and Lance Smith.  Just an awful pass by Brown that made little sense.  It was Turner’s 7th pick on the year, tying him for the NFL lead.  

Cleveland began with a handoff to Hoard running to his left, but Hamilton strung out the play and allowed Raymond to come up in run support and tackle him after just a 1 yard gain as Hoard came up screaming about a missed facemask penalty.  2nd and a long 9, Vinny came with a hard count that drew the Giants offsides as he gave the ball to Metcalf on a quick inside handoff for a 3 yard gain, but they took the penalty and made it 2nd and 4 at the 41.  The Browns would hand off to Hoard, who burst for a huge through the middle, broke a tackle attempt by Raymond and chugged all the way down to the 14 yard line, caught from behind by Randolph, however the reason why he got the lane to brake the run was a hold on the Browns' Bob Dahl.  The Browns would compound that penalty with an even worse mistake.

Vinny dropped back and dumped the ball off to Metcalf in the flat.  Metcalf, who for years was the AFC equivalent of Meggett, had some of the same problems (ie- fumbles).  Metcalf made the catch at the 33, got away from Campbell initially as he cut inside of him, but Campbell would regain his balance and hit Metcalf’s arm as he was being hit by Beamon.  The ball popped free and was recovered by Beamon in a pile at the 32 yard line.  It was the Browns’ 3rd turnover of the game with 5:25 to go in the 3rd quarter.  

The Giants started with a play action pass that gave him time to throw and Brown uncorked a pass to a wide open Sherrard at the 9 yard line, and he had to outstretch for it to catch it and it took him out of bounds at the 6 yard line for a 25 yard gain, but if he threw a better pass, Sherrard probably has a chance to get away from Moore for a TD.  First and goal at the 6, the handoff went to Rasheed running to his right, and he was met at the 5 yard line by Moore for a one yard gain.  2nd and goal at the 5, Brown playaction to Hampton and ran to his right looking for an open man, but the Browns had great coverage, so he tried to scramble for as much as he could get and went out of bounds at the line of scrimmage.  3rd and goal at the 5, Brown tried a QB keeper, but the Browns were ready for it as Moore was playing a spy role and dragged him down for a loss at the 7.  The Giants had to go for another field goal, which had been an adventure, but we had a changing of the guard.

In what was a significant change for the Giants, Reeves had seen enough of Treadwell and brought on Daluiso.  To this point in his career, Daluiso was known as a kickoff specialist and a guy who would attempt the 50+ yard bombs.  Never something more routine like a 26 yarder, but he converted it with no issues and banged it through to make the score 10-6 with 3:24 to go in the 3rd quarter.

Back to the role he was used to, Daluiso’s kickoff went towards the corner near the goal line, but barely hit the sidelines at the 2 yard line for a penalty that put the ball out at the 40.  First and 10, Hoard again ran hard to his left, but the Giants run support was ready for him and Raymond took out his legs for no gain as Derrick Alexander just whiffed on the block.  2nd and 10, Vinny back, with time, set up a screen to Hoard at the 35, but slow developing play was read by Buckley and Stacy Dillard who tackled him at the 38 for a 2 yard loss.  3rd and 12, Vinny would again drop back, again have time, but with no one open deep, had to dump off to Hoard who caught it at the 35 and was hit and dropped by Armstead for a loss and the Dog Pound started booing again after the 3 and out.  Tupa’s punt was a short one, taken by Meggett at the 30, but he only got it to the 31 as he was swarmed by the coverage team.

The offense began with a handoff to Hampton on a delay to the right, but he was only able to gain a couple, hit by Stams.  2nd and 8, Brown dropped back and Cleveland came on a blitz, so he hit his hot receiver Cross at the 35 and the big TE carried Moore out to the 39 on what would be the final play of the 3rd quarter.  3rd and 3, Brown dropped back and looked for a quick slant on a 3 step drop, but it was covered and Brown held the ball.  Griffin came on a blitz and had an easy sack of the Giants’ QB back to the 30 yard line, the Browns’ fourth sack on the day.  Horan on to punt, boomed a nice kick to Metcalf at the 19 yard line and he was hit a moment after he caught it by Beamon and driven back to the 18 yard line, a great 52 yard punt.  

Vinny led the Browns back out at the 18, and Hoard took the carry up the gut, spun off a couple of tacklers and got the ball to the 24 yard line, for a 6 yard gain, stopped by Strahan and Widmer.  2nd and 4, the ball given again to Hoard up the middle and he cut back right into Widmer at the 26 yard line, however a hold on the Browns set them back to 2nd and 14.  Vinny dropped back and tried to hold up his throw and it slipped out of his hands and he bonked the ball off his lineman’s ass and that brought a flag for throwing to an ineligible receiver, however Vinny successfully argued that his arm was hit by Hamilton and that tipped pass caused the problem. Markbreit agreed and it remained 3rd and 14, however Vinny would make another big mistake

This looked like the Vinny of his Tampa days.  In this case, no one was open, so he scrambled to his right, first flushed out by Dillard, and then pursued by Hamilton and Howard, and he committed the cardinal sin of throwing across his body towards Kinchen, but Campbell came over to make a leaping pick at the 37 yard line and nudged his way to the 35.  A hold on the Browns was declined and it was the Browns’ fourth turnover.  

So Giants’ ball at the 35, Brown would run a play action fake and the Giants tried for the home run shot to Sherrard, but it was nearly picked by Griffin, and the deflection nearly caught by Sherrard, but all in all, an incomplete pass, but kudos to Reeves for taking the shot after the turnover.  2nd and 10, the Giants would hand off to Hampton, following a wham block by Pierce, and he would plow forward to the 32, stopped by Pleasant.  Now 3rd and 7, Brown would take the snap, stand in against the blitz and and took a deep shot towards the end zone for Sherrard, but he was well covered by Issac Booth, and the ball fell incomplete.  On fourth down, looking at a 49 yard field goal, Reeves decided to bring on Horan and ate the 5 yard delay of game to give a better angle, and he would kick the ball down the 5 yard line, where it bounced towards the end zone, but Beamon was able to bat it back before it went into the end zone and it was downed by Widmer at the 2 yard line.

Backed up deep in their own end, Vinny would fake the hand off and with Hamilton in his face, connect with Alexander on a comeback route for a first down to the 14 yard line, taken down by Raymond.  First down, the ball went to Hoard, who crunched into the line and was tackled by Dillard and Hamilton at the 17.  2nd and 7, Cleveland would bring on Byner, and give him the ball, where he would cut his way up the field, to the 24 yard line and near a first down, however, another flag on the Browns for a hold by Doug Dawson.  So it was now 2nd and 16 back at the 8 yard line, Vinny would drop into his own end zone and tried to hit Jackson on a streak, but the ball was nearly picked off by Randolph and the ball fell incomplete.  3rd and 16, with Kinchen in motion, Vinny again in his own end zone, was able to sling a deep out to Alexander at the 26 for a first down, hit by Beamon and Wooten, which broke a 5 straight incomplete streak.  First and 10, Vinny again back, with heat coming on him from Hamilton, he rushed a pass to Byner, but he was met by Brooks and the ball popped straight up in the air and was nearly picked off on a diving attempt by Booty.  2nd and 10, Vinny back to throw again, and with some time initially, he rolled out and felt the pressure from Miller and Hamilton, and he threw the ball away.  The refs would pick up the flag for illegal contact because Vinny was out of the pocket.  On 3rd and 10, Vinny’s nightmare would continue

On what can only be described as the slowest developing stunt in history, the Giants looped their DTs Dillard and Howard, and Dillard made his way all the way around from RDT looped around left tackle and chugged after Vinny.  He caught up to Vinny at the 15 yard line for the sack and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Hamilton at the 17 yard line.  On their first sack of the night, the Giants would get their 5th turn over of the game.

So the Giants again had the ball deep in the Browns’ end and they would begin with a handoff to Hampton, who hit a wall running to the right, and tried to bounce back up the middle and was tackled after just a 1 yard gain, stopped by Pleasant.  2nd and 9, another handoff to Hampton, and he cut it up the middle, and fell forward to the 12 yard line, stopped by Banks.  3rd and 5, Brown would drop back, with time to throw had the ball batted down by Pepper at the line, and it fell incomplete.  On would trot Daluiso out again and he would pop through the 30 yarder to make the score 13-6 with 8:15 to go in the game.

Dalusio’s kickoff would take Metcalf deep into his own end zone where he took a knee for a touchback.  The Browns offense would take the field again to a chorus of boos.  Starting at the 20, Metcalf would take the draw and would dance around in the backfield and cut up the field to the 24, stopped by Campbell.  2nd and 6, Vinny dropped back and tried to hit Carrier over the middle, but it was batted down by Dillard.  3rd and 6, Vinny again back, with time, tried to get the ball to Carrier, who had the ball hit him in the hands and he dropped the ball, but would have been short anyway.  Tupa came back on to kick to Meggett, but the ball was shanked and died at the 40 yard line.

Brown came on and gave the ball to Hampton who plowed up the gut for no gain.  Hampton would come out and Meggett came in the backfield and Brown pitched the ball to him, and running to his right, was knocked down for no gain by James Jones.  3rd and 10, Brown faked an end around to Marshall and rolled directly into a blitz by Griffin who took him down for his 2nd sack of the game back at the 31.  The Giants called a time out for some reason with 5:39 to go in the game and Horan came on, looking at a punt block, but the rush never got there, and the ball skidded to Mike Caldwell at the 35, who for some reason grabbed it rather than let Metcalf get it and do his job, which was to block.

So Cleveland needed a TD to tie the game, and nearly got it all in one play

One thing about Vinny, he always had a strong arm and good touch on the deep ball.  In this case, he took the snap, avoided Hamilton and stepped up as Fox was about to hit him and uncorked a bomb to Alexander who dove and caught it at the 5 yard line, where he was touched by Raymond (tripped on actually), but the play was good for 60 yards.  The Browns didn’t take long to finish it all off

Well, so much for that.  Hoard took the handoff that was meant to go to the right but was stacked up by Fox.  Strahan had a clear shot at Hoard, but he missed him allowing Hoard to come back to his left, and accelerate past the Giants defense, followed a nice block by Jackson, and got past one final lunge by Campbell to score from 5 yards out.  A false start on the Browns delayed the inevitable extra point conversion by Stover, who put it through with a bit of drama, but still tied the game at 13-13 with 4:24 to go.  

Stover’s kickoff would go to Marshall at the 6, and he would break a tackle and take it up to the 26, stopped by Booth.  So the Dog Pound was now into the game and the rain started to pick up.  Brown was under pressure and scrambled around and tried to sneak a pass in to Hampton and was nearly picked by Pepper.  However, a hold on Brian Williams (and another on Lance Smith) would put the Giants back to 1st and 20 at the 16.  Brown tried a 3 step drop, but it was knocked down by James Jones, who actually had the ball bonk off his facemask.  2nd and 20, Brown back again and the Giants got lucky.

Arthur Marshall would catch the ball on a crossing route and smack right into Caldwell.  As he was hit, the ball started to come loose and the bigger linebacker ripped the ball away from the wide receiver and he would stumble to the ground for what should have been a pick at the 13 yard line.  However the refs called it down at the 21 thanks to forward progress.  But forward progress is the official’s call and the Giants kept the ball. 3rd and 15, with the clock running under 3:15 to go, Brown would end up making one of the best passes of his career, standing in against the pressure and rifling a bullet into Calloway over the zone and all the way to the 47 yard line, tackled by Moore and Turner.  The clock kept running and the Giants had a new set of downs, where they pitched back to Hampton running to his right, but again the toss went for just a yard, stopped by Bill Johnson and Stams and took the clock to the 2 minute warning.  2nd and 9, the Browns came on another blitz, and Brown took a deep shot towards Calloway up the sidelines, but Brown was jostled just enough by Stams to make the ball sail.  3rd and 9, Brown again dropped back and stood in against the blitz, hit Sherrard on an out at the 39 yard line and out of bounds with 1:49 to go but gained a crucial first down.  The Giants would stay to the air and tried to lob a pass in to Pierce, but it was thrown over the wrong shoulder and fell incomplete.  2nd and 10, Brown took the snap, dropped back and dumped the ball off to Meggett over the middle at the 36, and he would scoot up to the 30, stopped by Pepper.  On 3rd and 1, came a bit of a surprise

Some QBs are good at sneaks.  Simms used to burrow in the line and use his size to get first downs.  Tom Brady is very good and aggressive, and goes for more than just enough yardage.  Eli never runs them because Coughlin doesn’t like to call them.  But Dave Brown went right up the gut on a quick count to stun a very physical Cleveland defense, follow a block by Smith that helped him actually run over Pepper and he pounded his way to the 23 yard line for a huge first down, as Jerry Glanville would call it “a silent goose” where the defense was waiting for a vocal signal and the Giants just snapped it and took them by surprise.  The Browns would call a timeout with 1:16 to go in the game.  So first down at the 23, the handoff went to Hampton, where he was stacked up by Johnson and Pepper at the 21 yard line after a 2 yard gain, but the clock went under 1 minute.  2nd and 8, the ball again went to Hampton, who burrowed to the 20, stopped by Jones and Banks, and Cleveland took their 2nd timeout with :35 to go.  3rd and 7, Brown gave it to Rasheed on a misdirection, would bulldoze to the 15, stopped by Moore and Belichick called his final timeout with :23 to go in the game.  On would come Daluiso for a huge field goal attempt as Eric Turner came over to talk trash to his fellow UCLA Bruin to play some mind games.  

From 33 yards away, with a bit of rain and wind, Daluiso would barely get it inside the left upright.  Many fans thought he missed it and cheered initially, but the refs called it good and the Giants celebrated to take the lead 16-13 with :19 to go thanks to a gutsy drive led by (yes, it’s true) Dave Brown for 13 plays, 59 yards in 4:05.

Daluiso on to kick off, he would squib the ball up the field, grabbed by Baldwin at the 25 yard line and he was slung out of bounds by Jason Sehorn at the 28 with :14 to go.  The Browns had no timeouts, so they had a tough go ahead of them.  Vinny with 3 WRs to the right, they decided to try a Hail Mary, and with what looked like a team picture, it was knocked down by Campbell at the 17 yard line with :05 to go in the game, time for one more deep shot.  Vinny dropped back, and scrambled to his right, fired another deep pass into a mess of players at the 15 yard line, where it was batted away again by the defense.  A flag on the play kept things interesting for a moment, but the Browns lined up offsides and the game was over, with a shocking 16-13 win at Cleveland Stadium for the Giants.

Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits

  • Mike Sherrard had 100 yards in this game, catching 5 balls for 101 yards.  It was his 2nd 100 yard game of the season, his first coming against the Oilers when he caught 2 deep bombs from Kent Graham.  Sherrard would only have one other 100 yard game in his career, when he caught 6 balls for 128 yards in a 30-28 loss at Seattle.  A game when Dave Brown went 20-41, for 299 yards and 2 TDs.  That was the most yards he ever threw for as a Giants, never topping the magical 300 yard number.
  • This was the first game all year the Browns allowed a 100 yard receiver
  • This was the game that officially saw the transition of Brad Daluiso from kick off/long field goal guy to every situation kicker.  David Treadwell, the “regular” kicker had gone from being a pretty good kicker, converting 83% of his field goals in 1992 and 80% in 1993, to falling off a cliff in 1994.  Treadwell would convert 11 of 17 attempts, a brutal 64.7% success rate, including a horrible 5 of 11 from 30-49 yards out.  Unacceptable in the NFL.  Daluiso would convert all 3 of his attempts, including the game winner.  Treadwell would never kick again in the NFL.
  • Daluiso, up to this game was 1-1 on his field goal attempts, hitting a 49 yarder at Pittsburgh in a 10-6 loss.  For the rest of the 1994 season, he was perfect, going 10 for 10 on field goals and converting all 5 extra point attempts.  
  • Daluiso would hold the kicking job for the next 6 years, and in 1996, would go 24 of 27 on Field Goals, good for an 88.9% success rate.  He did however miss the last 12 games of the 1999 season thanks to a freak play and bad special teams management.  On a Monday Night game, Daluiso hit a 21 yard field goal to give the Giants a 13-10 lead with :01 to go in the game.  Rather than a squib kick, and not wanting to kick it to Deion Sanders, the Giants told Daluiso to try to pooch it in front of Sanders.  It didn’t work, the ball went too far to Sanders and then on a series of laterals that ended with Kevin Mathis taking the ball all the way back for a TD, but was nullfied by an illegal forward pass.  However, Daluiso, trying to cover the return, planted his left leg and tore his ACL.  He was lost for the remainder of the season and the Giants went with Cary Blanchard to finish the season, and he actually did a great job for them, converting 18 of 21 field goals (85.7%) and booted through a clutch 48 yarder to beat the Bills 19-17 in Buffalo, and this was a Bills team that finished at 11-5.
  • Daluiso would return in 2000, but the blown ACL and age had robbed him of much of his power.  He would actually get replaced by Jaret Holmes on kickoffs.  Daluiso would go 17 of 23 in 2000 (73.9%) and the Giants would move on from him in 2001, opting to go with the dynamic duo of former Saints and Falcons’ great kicker Morten Andersen at age 41 and young/strong legged Owen Pochman.  Andersen would go 23 for 28 (82% conversion) and Pochman was 0-2 on long field goals over 50 yards.  Andersen would actually boot through 2 50+  yarders in 2001.  Meanwhile, Daluiso would sit at home for most of the 2001 season, until the Oakland Raiders came calling when their regular kicker Sebastian Janikowski was felled by a bacterial infection in his toe.  Daluiso, who was living in San Diego, hopped on a flight and was signed to kick in the regular season finale against the Jets at Oakland.  He would go 3-4 on fields goals, and 1-2 on extra points.  So the points that were missed cost the Raiders, who dropped a 24-22 game to the Jets, who won it on a late 53 yard field goal and it put the Jets in the playoffs to play….the Raiders again, in Oakland, in the Wild Card round the very next week.  Janikowski would recover from the infection, Daluiso would be released, and Janikowski would go 3-3 on field goals and 3-3 on extra points in a 38-24 Raiders win, cemented on a late 80 yard Charlie Garner TD run.  Daluiso would retire after the season for good.
  • Jesse Campbell’s INT his first on the season. He also forced a fumble. Not a bad game for the former 2nd round Philly pick.
  • Aaron Pierce’s 10 yard TD was his 4th and final TD of the 1994 season.  However, he would only find the end zone 1 more time for the remainder of his career, when he caught a 7 yard TD in a 31-10 blowout loss at home to the Redskins in 1996.
  • Michael Brooks’ INT was the only one he had in his 3 years with the Giants, and would be the last one of his career.
  • Kenyon Rasheed, the undersized fullback who was undrafted out of Oklahoma and beat out former first round pick Jarrod Bunch, caught 3 passes in this game, tying a career high, when he caught 3 passes in the Week 2 win at Arizona.  Rasheed would end up losing out on his job in 1995 to Charles Way at fullback.  He would sign with the Jets and play in one final game in 1995, a 12-0 loss to the Saints on Christmas Eve and he would retire after the season.
  • The Giants wore their throwback uniforms in this game, thanks mainly to superstition.  The 1994 season was the 75th overall for the NFL.  So teams, for the first time as the Marketing arm of the NFL began their strangehold on operations, decided to allow teams to wear a uniform from a team’s past.  The Giants went with a uniform look based on their 1961 team, but it wasn’t 100% authentic.  It had the “NY” back on the helmet, and gray facemask and gray pants.  The Giants wore these uniforms earlier in the season against the Redskins at home and then again against the Saints on the road.  While the Giants languished in their 7 game losing streak, they decided to go back to the alternate throwback look against the Oilers.  When they won that game, the superstitious among the Giants (and there are lots, though no one could top Parcells’ craziness), the Giants kept with it and they wore the throwbacks for the remainder of the season, and coincided with the Giants 6 game season ending win streak.  They would go back to their familiar “Giants” uniforms in 1995 and would keep them up through 1999.  In 2000, they switched back to the “NY” on the helmet and though some slight variations over the years, have stuck with that general look.
  • This game was also the first time that Pepper Johnson would face his old team.  Pepper didn’t mesh with Dan Reeves to say the least.  Pepper came off his 3rd straight 100+ tackle campaign in 1992 and at age 29 was still in his prime.  Reeves decided that he needed to rebuild the linebackers with new blood.  LT decided to come back for one more season and not retire after the achillies injury.  Carl Banks was a free agent and given the transition tag so was in limbo.  Meanwhile, the Giants decided to give a big money contract to former Buffalo Bill linebacker Carlton Bailey.  Bailey was slotted in at one ILB place, and Pepper was in the other.  As the offseason moved along, a number of free agency dominos began to fall.  Reeves’ old team, the Broncos were in a similar free agency standoff with their Pro Bowl LB, Michael Brooks, who was their leading tackler the previous 5 seasons.  Brooks, also given the transition tag, languished throughout the offseason.  The Broncos decided to rescind the tag, making him a free agent.  The Giants swooped in and quickly signed Brooks to a 3 year contract worth $5.4 million.  In tandem, Banks had his transition tag removed, making him a free agent.  Realizing that the Giants had no interest in bringing him back, Banks would sign with the Redskins.  Meanwhile, Brooks was not told where he would be playing, but as the summer moved along, Reeves intentions became clear.  Pepper was embroiled in his own contract squabbles, being a free agent after the 1993 season.  And he voiced his displeasure with the direction of the team, particularly letting Banks go for Brooks, and called the Giants the “NJ Broncos”.  Reeves decided that Brooks best position was inside linebacker.  And Pepper, who filled in as an outside linebacker in the past, would shift to Banks’ old position.  Pepper resisted the move.  Knowing that playing out of position, heading to free agency wasn’t what he had in mind.  And keeping in mind that Pepper can be a bit hard headed (ie- going public the previous year that he would simply ignore the calls from the old defensive coordinator Rod Rust and do what they felt like), Reeves and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan felt they should move on.  Pepper was released, and Corey Miller took over the strong side linebacker spot.  Pepper would get snatched up by Belichick, and he would respond with 87 tackles in 11 starts as he learned the Browns tweaks to the system, and then followed that up with a Pro Bowl year in 1994, registering 122 tackles.  Pepper would keep playing 4 more years, finishing up with Detroit and then again under Parcells and Belichick with the Jets in 1998.  Pepper would join the coaching ranks, under Belichick for several years and then over to Buffalo and he actually interviewed for the Giants’ defensive coordinator spot after Perry Fewell was let go at the end of the 2014 season.
  • As fate would have it, Pepper wasn’t the only ex-Giant linebacker on that roster.  Carl Banks was released by the Redskins after they crashed and burned in 1993 and he was picked up by the Browns as well.  Banks would register half a sack in this game.
  • Leroy Hoard scored a TD in this game, and in 1994, he would roll up over 1300 yards rushing and receiving, en route to the only Pro Bowl of his career.  However, Hoard would become an infamous fantasy football player late in his career with the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings lead running back in 1998 and 1999 was Robert Smith who rushed for 1187 yards and then 1015 yards.  He would score 8 TDs over those two seasons.  So you are talking nearly 2200 yards rushing and 8 TDs?  Where did the other TDs go?  The answer was the TD vulture, Hoard,  By this stage of his career he was used as a goal line back.  And despite rushing for less than half Robert Smith’s yardage, he got 19 TDs in 2 seasons.  So Smith would get the ball inside the 3 and Hoard would finish it off.
  • The Brown kicker in this game was Matt Stover.  Stover had a tremendous career, spanning 19 years from the Browns to the Ravens, and then a brief stop with the Colts before retiring after the 2009 season.  He won a Super Bowl and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000 with the Ravens.  But his career started with….the Giants.  Stover was drafted by the Giants in 1990 in the 12th round out of Louisiana Tech. Stover was beaten out by veteran Raul Allegre, but the Giants liked what they saw in the young kicker and did what a lot of teams would do when they liked a young guy but had no where to put him on the roster prior to the creation of the practice or taxi squad.  They red shirted them, came up with an injury and stashed them on IR.  So it was with Stover, who was put on IR after training camp and was lost for the year.  As fate would have it, Allegre would get hurt and the Giants were forced to sign a kicker who was released by the Cleveland Browns in Matt Bahr.  Bahr was beaten out for the kicking job by Jerry Kauric as the Browns were concerned about Bahr’s leg strength.  When Allegre went down, Bahr was signed by the Giants before Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys and two weeks later would beat the Phoenix Cardinals on a last second 40 yard FG to win 20-19.  Bahr was cemented as the kicker after that, and made his way into Giants’ lore by kicking 5 field goals in the 1990 NFC Championship at San Francisco, including the game winning 41 yarder with no time left in a 15-14 victory that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl.  With Bahr now established as the kicker, the Giants would let Stover go.  However, Belichick, who saw Stover in camp in 1990, and took over as the Browns’ head coach in 1991, lept at the opportunity to get the young kicker and the rest was history.
  • This game also featured a match up of the 2 best scat back/returners in their respective conferences in Dave Meggett and Eric Metcalf.  While Dave Meggett burst on to the scene in 1989 as a 5th round pick out of Towson State on the way to a Pro Bowl bid in his rookie year.  In the AFC, Metcalf was a first round pick in 1989, and he was the Meggett of the AFC, making big plays out of the backfield.  Metcalf would get named to his first Pro Bowl as a returner in 1993 and followed that up with another Pro Bowl nod in 1994.  In this game, neither Meggett nor Metcalf did too much.  Meggett was ho-hum, rushing for -3 yards and catching 2 passes for 12 yards, and he returned 2 punts for 10 yards and 2 kicks for 25 yards.  Meanwhile, Metcalf was equally quiet, rushing for 25 yards, and catching 3 passes for 20 yards, and also caught 2 punts for 0 yards.  Still, over the course of their careers, both were dynamic return men.  Metcalf would return 10 punts and 2 kickoffs for touchdowns over 13 years.  Meggett meanwhile returned 7 punts and 1 kickoff for touchdowns over 10 years.  Both could throw the ball too...Meggett on half back options threw 4 TDs (and should have had a 5th in the 1990 NFC Championship game, but Mo Carthon dropped the ball in the end zone).  Metcalf was not as productive, only throwing 1 TD.
  • Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator for the Browns and one day earlier from this game was named head coach of the Michigan State Spartans.  This would start a legendary college career that saw the Giants try to get him back in 1997, but he wouldn't go back to the NFL. That would occur in 2005, after he left a stint at LSU where he won a National Championship. Saban was a bust in the pros, only lasting 2 seasons and a 15-17 record, and would return back to college, to head Alabama, winning three more National titles.
  • Don Griffin, the long time former 49er cornerback would collect 2 sacks in the game.  It was the only time in his 11 year career he would get multiple sacks in a game.  He would only get 6.5 over his career.
  • The Browns QB was former Miami Hurricane Heisman Trophy Winner and former #1 pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs, one Vincenzo “Vinny” Testaverde.  What is interesting is that Testaverde was in his 8th year in the NFL, at age 31 (he was an older prospect coming out of college), and 1994 was the first year that he had a winning record as a starting QB in the NFL.  Vinny was a guy who was a late bloomer to say the least.  In 1996, despite the new Baltimore Ravens going 4-12 and being all messed up in the transition (and screwing Belichick along the way), Vinny was named to his first Pro Bowl at age 33, throwing for 4177 yards and 33 TDs.  In 1998, Vinny was signed by the Jets and initially was the backup QB to former Boston College QB Glenn Foley.  Foley had a great start to the season, throwing for 415 yards and 3 TDs in an OT loss at SF.  He came back to Earth the next week, throwing for 247 yards and 3 INTs in a loss to Baltimore.  The Jets were 0-2 and Foley was banged up with a rib injury.  Enter Vinny, who took over for Foley and would end up starting 13 games, lead the Jets to a 12-1 record with him at QB, throw for 3256 yards and 29 TDs with only 7 INTs.  The Jets would finish at 12-4, Vinny would get named to his 2nd Pro Bowl at age 35 and lead the Jets to an AFC East title.  In the playoffs, the Jets would dispatch the Tom Coughlin led Jaguars 34-24 and then go into Denver and give the eventual Super Bowl Champs a tussle, leading 10-0 in the 3rd quarter, but they would surrender 23 straight points in losing.  The next year, hopes were high for “Vinny and the Jets”, but that hope crashed right away.  Vinny tore his achillies in the first game of the season and the Jets went with Tom Tupa as a backup in losing 30-28 to the Patriots.  The Jets would never rebound, settling bouncing between Tupa and Rick Mirer at QB, until going with former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Ray Lucas, who went 6-3 in an 8-8 year that was too little too late.  The Jets would go into a weird transition as Parcells left, and Belichick resigned to go to New England.  Vinny would hang around in NY through the 2003 season, eventually giving up the job to Chad Pennington when Vinny was 40 years old.  He would stay in the NFL 4 more years.  Starting 15 games for Dallas in 2004 (back with Parcells), and then back to the Jets as a backup, over to the Patriots (back with Belichick), and then finally retiring after the 2007 season with the Panthers at age 44.  Call the man a compiler, but in a 21 year career, Vinny threw for 46,233 yards and 275 TDs.
  • Derrick Alexander killed the Giants, putting up 171 yards on 7 catches.  But it was only his 3rd highest total of his career.  His best game came in 1996, when he put up 198 yards on 7 catches in a 31-17 win over Pittsburgh as a member of the Ravens.  And he also put up 173 yards on 5 catches as a member of the Chiefs in a 38-37 shootout loss at San Diego.

  • The Browns turned the ball over 5 times in this game.  It was the 2nd time they did that on the season.  The first time was in a 17-10 week 2 loss at home to the Steelers.  
  • Overall the Browns were a -3 team in turnovers.  Yet, a testament to the type of defensive minds they had in Belichick and Saban as coaches, they were the #1 team in points allowed in 1994, allowing only 204 points.  When it comes to defensive rankings, that was the stat that Parcells and Belichick cares most about, not so much about yardage, which is how most stats groups rank defenses (the Browns allowed 4826 yards, good for #7 overall).  To give a sense on how impressive that points allowed was, looking back at the Giants defensive dominance from 1984-1990, under Parcells and Belichick, here was their points allowed and rankings:
    • 1984: 304 points (#8)
    • 1985: 283 points (#5)
    • 1986: 236 points (#2)
    • 1987: 312 points (#13) ** Strike year shouldn’t really count.  
    • 1988: 304 points (#9)
    • 1989: 252 points (#2)
    • 1990: 211 points (#1)
  • The Giants and Browns were huge rivals in the 1950s, when they would battle in several NFL championship games that matched up Jim Brown vs. the Giants defense, specifically Sam Huff.  However, prior to this game, the last time the Giants played in Cleveland was in 1973, when the Giants lost in Week 3 by the score of 12-10.  The Giants would take a 10-0 lead thanks to a 20 yard TD from Norm Snead to Bob Tucker, however four Don Cockroft FGs, including a 10 yarder (no longer possible today) won the game for the Browns. They were supposed to meet up in Week 9 of the 1982 season, however the strike wiped that game out.  
  • The Giants wouldn’t have to wait over 20 years for their next trip to Cleveland.  They would only have to wait 6 years, as they went into Cleveland to play the “new” Browns, who were one year back on the scene following the whole Baltimore Ravens move/fiasco.  In that matchup in 2000, the Browns would take a 3-0 lead on a Phil Dawson 19 yard field goal, and the Giants would pour on the next 24 points as Amani Toomer caught 2 TDs to win easily 24-3.