What if? That's a question that works for all walks of life, but can be viewed through the prism of sports very easily. In the specific case of Tom Coughlin, we are talking about a man who is entering his 12 year as the Giants head coach going into the 2015 season. He over the course of his career, he has amassed a 96-80 record (.545 winning percentage) a win total that puts him second all time for the Giants, behind only Hall of Famer Steve Owen (151-100) and ahead of his mentor, Bill Parcells (77-49). Coughlin has coached the Giants to 5 playoff appearances, 2 NFC East Titles and of course 2 Super Bowl victories. And if not for those Super Bowl victories, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady would be considered the unquestionably greatest Coach/QB tandem in NFL History, and been able to shove the 1972 Dolphins to the side as the only undefeated team in the Super Bowl era. Between coughlin's time in Jacksonville and with the Giants, he has coached 19 years, going 164-140, a .630 winning percentage and is in the conversation as a Hall of Fame coach when he does finally retire.
But, everything can be traced back to one simple question. What if the Giants lost the final regular season game of the 2006 season at the Washington Redskins? Odds are, the Coughlin story stops after 2006. And the New England Patriots story is very different (though they still are cheaters, that can't be taken away). To understand the impact of that last game, you need to understand everything swirling around it. Coughlin was in Year 3 of his program. Year 1 was establishing a new foundation and the transition from a stopgap (Kurt Warner) to their new franchise QB, Eli Manning. In Year 2, the Giants would splurge on the free agent market, filling in around Manning with big ticket signings like Plaxico Burress, Antonio Pierce, and Kareem McKenzie. The Giants would go 11-5, win the NFC East (finally wresting it away from Philadelphia), but would get uncerimoniously blown out and shut out at home in the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers (and former defensive coordinator John Fox). After that game, in frustation, Tiki Barber voiced something which was starting to become more and more noise. Tiki was talking about how the Panthers seemed be in the Giants huddle and bluntly said "I think in some ways, we were outcoached." That comment enraged Coughlin and put blood in the water for the NY press. Here was the Giants best player, on the heels of a 23-0 post-season whitewashing, calling out his coach in public. While Tiki and Coughlin would clear the air, the horse was already out of the barn on the negative Coughlin stories.
By 2006, the grousing and finger pointing in the Giants locker room had started to get worse. Players had begun complaining about Coughlin's strict rules, particularly the Coughlin Time part about always being 5 minutes early. If you showed up on time for a meeting, but not 5 minutes early, you got a fine. In 2004, Carlos Emmons and Barrett Green both filed complaints with the players' union about the fines. 10 players also separately filed a complaint with the Player's Union about his "voluntary" mini camp. Coughlin's manner, much more of a discplinarian from the previous "Club Fassel" regieme,annoyed several veterans in addition to Tiki, guys like Michael Strahan, Jeremy Shockey, and Amani Toomer were not big fans. But as John Madden used to say, winning is a great deoderant. After an opening day loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the first "Manning Bowl", the Giants would engineer a classic comeback victory in Philadelphia the next week, overcoming a 24-7 4th quarter defecit to tie the game on a late Jay Feely 35 yard field goal and then win it on a 31 yard bomb to Plaxico. The Giants would get blown out in Seattle, 42-30 and then head into their bye at 1-2. Just when the buzzards started circling, Coughlin's Giants got hot, winning 5 straight games to sit at 6-2, in first place in the NFC East and set up a huge showdown with the Chicago Bears on National TV in a misty, crappy storm. The Giants would go up 13-3 late in the 2nd quarter. And then the wheels came off, the Bears would score 3 TDs, and put the nail in the coffin when the Giants made the score 24-20 and Feely told Coughlin he could hit a 52 yard FG to make it a one point game. Return man Devin Hester would set up in the end zone. And then disaster, the field goal was short, Hester would field it 8 yards deep and then he would proceed to return it 108 yards for a back breaking TD and the Bears would win 38-20, establishing themselves as the top team in the NFC. Meanwhile, for the Giants, the combination of the loss and the injury bug led to a complete crash and burn scenario. Gone were Strahan and Justin Tuck to Lis Franc injuries. Toomer partially tore his ACL and went for surgery. Luke Petitgout broke his leg. The Giants would drop their next 3 games after the Chicago loss, including a mind numbing one on the road against the Tennessee Titans, when they blew a 21-0 first half lead by giving up 24 points in the 4th quarter. The worst moment when Mathias Kiwanuka had QB Vince Young wrapped up for a game ending sack, but fearing a roughing the QB penalty, let him go, and allowed the Titans to convert a first down and eventually win 24-21 thanks to a bad late INT by Eli trying to win the game.
The Giants were 6-6 after a 23-20 home loss to the Cowboys. The Giants had tied the game at 20 on a late Eli to Plaxico 5 yard TD, but lost with :01 to go in the game on a 46 yard Martin Gramatica field goal. The Giants would get off the schnied against the Panthers to go 7-6, but again problems would hit the Giants. 2 straight home losses, to the Eagles where the Giants blew a late 22-21 lead in the 4th quarter by allowing 2 TDs and then they got steam rolled on Christmas Eve by the Saints, 30-7, with the Saints racking up 30 straight points after the Giants scored early.
So the Giants found themselves at 7-8 going into Washington, a team who had already been put away for the year and were 5-10. But the buzzards were circling all around Coughlin. He made the decision, perhaps desparate or perhaps scapegoating (or both), to fire offensive coordinator John Hufnagle and replace him with QB coach Kevin Gilbride. They shuffled David Diehl over to left tackle in place of veteran Bob Whitfield.
Meanhile, over the years I've been able to make various contacts in and around the Giants. I was told by a source who was "in the know" that the the Giants were considering going for a Hail Mary after the season. GM Ernie Accorsi was retiring. No clear successor had been named. I was told the Giants were looking into the possibility of bringing in 2 guys who had ties to the organization. They wanted to bring in Scott Pioli from the Pats front office to interview for GM and look to give him the job. Pioli happened to be Bill Parcells' son in law. And after landing Pioli, they wanted to bring back their former defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick as head coach. It seemed crazy at the time, and in hindsight seems insane, but there was something to the story. I posted what I had heard on BBI's site on Christmas day and as most "asshat" threads go, it got traction. Several beat writers read BBI, and obviously more plugged in than I am, and suddenly some of the Pioli/Belichick stuff started showing up as they likely followed up with their sources and found there was something to it. As it would eventually turn out, the Giants asked permission to interivew Pioli and it was granted by Bob Kraft, but Pioli would turn down the opportunity and stayed with the Pats. The Giants would then shift gears and name Jerry Reese to the GM role.
But despite all this, the Giants had one more chance to right the ship. A win in Washington, despite a less than stellar 8-8 year, would actually for all intents and purposes clinch a playoff spot for the Giants. There were crazy tie breaker scenarios where the Packers had to win by 70 points or something for them to get in. And the other major story going into this game wasn't just Coughlin and his future but that of the same guy who had ripped him the year before, Tiki Barber. Barber had been thinking about his post playing career and had spent time in the later stages of his career working on broadcasting. He would host radio shows on WFAN at night to get experience. He used his connections granted from his high profile position in NY to make contacts throughout the media industry. In a controversial twist, in mid October, during a promotional book tour, Tiki let it slip that he was considering retiring at the end of the year and that nothing would change his mind. Essentially, at mid-season, Tiki announced his retirement. This caught the Giants' off guard and created a huge distraction. But to Tiki's credit, while it caused a whole bunch of discussion and some hard feelings, it didn't affect his play. Tiki was still in his prime and he was playing at a very high level. He had actually rushed for 186 yards against the Falcons a few days before his impromptu announcement.
So here was the set up. A loss by the Giants puts them at 7-9 and ends their season. It also sends Tiki to his retirement and likely gets Coughlin a pink slip and at age 60 probably ends his NFL head coaching career. A win, puts them at 8-8, puts Barber in the playoffs to continue his career, and gives Coughlin a chance to keep his job, knowing the Giants were likely not going to make a change on the heels of back to back playoff berths. Standing in the way, on a Saturday Night was Joe Gibbs (on his second tour of duty with the Redskins) and a team playing out the string. Lots of interested parties around the NFL were watching because a loss would open the door for about 4 other teams to get in the playoffs. Considering all the hard feelings Tiki caused during his playing days and certainly afterwords on NBC when he laughed at Eli's leadership ability, fans should remember his performance in this game. Because if not for what he did, the Giants script from 2007 on would be very different.
The Game Highlights
The Redskins would win the toss and Jay Feely came on to kickoff and he would boot it down to Rock Cartwright at the 3 yard line and he would take it up to the 26 yard line, stopped by David Tyree and Chase Blackburn. Jason Campbell came out at QB to lead the Redskins’ offense and started with a handoff to Ladell Betts up the middle for a 1 yard gain, stopped by Gibril Wilson who rushed up from his safety spot in run support. 2nd and 9, another handoff to Betts, and this time he would go up the gut and push to the 30, stopped by Brandon Short. 3rd and 7, Campbell in the gun and the Giants came on a late blitz which got nowhere near the QB, who dumped it off over the middle to fullback Mike Sellers at the 35, and he would square his shoulders and power over Will Demps and Barry Cofield (who dropped into coverage) at the 40 yard line for a first down. A playaction fake to Betts held the Giants pass rush and gave Campbell all kinds of time. Eventually, he would get flushed to his left and would throw it back out to Betts as a safety valve at the 45, knocked out of bounds at the 46 by Sam Madison. 2nd and 4, with 4 WRs, the Redskins gave to Betts on a draw running to his left, and he cut inside a block by Chris Samuels and got to the 50 yard line for a first down, stopped by RW McQuarters. The Redskins would try a Statue of Liberty play, of a fake pass and then an inside handoff to former Falcon TJ Duckett, but the Giants weren’t fooled and he was tackled for no gain by Demps.
On 2nd and 10, another playaction fake, but this time Osi Umenyoria was able to make an inside swim and get his hands on Campbell for what looked to be a sack. But the 230 pound QB, was able to get away, along with help from Samuels picking off Osi, and then scramble up the field and was tripped up by Mathias Kiwanuka at the 37 for a first down and visions of Kiwi’s missed sack when he let Vince Young go too soon flashed in front of Giants’ fans. The ball would go to Betts running to his right, tackled at the 36 by William Joseph. 2nd and 9, Campbell back and would fire a strike to Santana Moss at the 24 on an in cut and was taken down by McQuarters, but good for another first down. Campbell would fake to Betts and then roll out to his left, avoiding Barry Cofield coming up the field and threw to Chris Cooley who was open at the 25 yard line. Cooley would get away from the diving tackle attempt by Carlos Emmons and make it to the 18 yard line, shoved out by Antonio Pierce. As the Redskins lined up for their 11th play of the drive, disaster would strike for them.
As Betts was cutting back up the middle, he was met by Short in the hole and took a shot which jarred the ball free and it sat at the 25 yard line where it was picked up by 300+ pound Fred Robbins and he would take off up the field. In the always enjoyable, fat guy with the ball race, Robbins did a pretty good job, chugging up the sidelines as Campbell got an angle to kind of get in his way as the rest of the Redskins cavalry made their way up the field and James Thrash would catch Robbins from behind at the 13 yard line good for a 67 yard return in all.
So the Giants suddenly found themselves in a great position and Eli Manning would pitch the ball back to Tiki Barber running to his right and he would push his way to the 10 yard line, stopped by Sean Taylor. 2nd and 7, Eli would put Jeremy Shockey in motion and as he tried to throw, the pass protection broke down with new left tackle David Diehl getting bullrushed and knocked over by Andre Carter and Eli was sacked back at the 16 yard line, and was lucky not to fumble. 3rd and 13, Eli in the gun, tried to throw a quick pass at the line by Plaxico Burress, but the ball was rushed as Washington blitzed and was out of the WR’s reach. On would come Feely to convert on a 34 yard FG which gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with 7:02 in the first quarter.
Feely’s kickoff would go to Cartwright who fielded it going backwards a few yards deep in the end zone. Rather than try to run it out, he was told by Thrash to stay there and take the touchback. Betts, looking to make amends for the fumble, took the ball running to his right, and would cut back up the middle, run over Wilson, and taking it all the way to the 29, tackled by Demps. 2nd and 1, Sellers was given the ball on a dive up the gut, powering to the 31, stopped by Short, but good for a first down. Campbell took a deep shot down the field to Antwan Randle-El who was single covered by Madison. The two were hand fighting all the way down the field and it was batted away by Madison at the 25 yard line. The ref kept his flag in his pocket despite Randle-El yelling and the crowd booing. 2nd and 10, another draw to Betts, who had a hole up the gut, and would cut back to his right, dragged down by Wilson and Demps at the Giants’ 48 for a 21 yard gain. Gibbs would go to his bag of tricks on the next play.
Gibbs had fooled the Giants with a reverse TD pass before. He did it back in 1990 with Ernest Byner throwing a deep TD to Ricky Sanders at RFK. This time he took Randle-El a former college QB who threw a deep pass down the field in the direction of Moss. Moss was actually somewhat double covered, with Corey Webster and Madison both in the area, but the ball came in a little short and Moss was able to adjust on it, take it away from Madison as Webster did God knows what in his coverage attempt, and Madison let him know it too. But the damage was done, a 48 yard TD on the gimmick play and after the extra point, put the Redskins up 7-3 with 4:58 to go in the first quarter.
Shaun Suisham’s kickoff went to Moss’ little brother, Sinorice at the 3 yard line, where he initially dropped it and was able to pick it up and try to make his way up the field, but was forced back to the middle and was slung down by Thrash at the 12. For good measure, a flag was thrown on the Giants for a hold and set them back to the 6 yard line. So Eli came out in poor field position and gave to Tiki, running to the right side, and picked his way to 10, taken down by Kedrick Colson. 2nd and 6, Tiki tried to run up the middle, bounced off Shaun O’Hara’s back and got to the 14 yard line, hit down by Phillip Daniels. On 3rd and 2, as the play clock was running down, Tiki was head’s up enough to see that they were in trouble and called a timeout before they got hit with a delay of game with 3:26 to go in the first quarter. And Tiki would go ahead and make an even bigger play next
With the Giants back up, Eli handed off to Tiki on a draw to the right side, Tiki followed a great block by Vishante Shancoe at the 15 and cut inside and accelerate up the field, spinning off tackles, and was finally chased down at the 46 yard line by Golston for a 32 yard gain and huge first down. On the next play, Eli would drop back and roll to his right and try to hit Tim Carter near the sidelines, but it bounced off his hands and incomplete. 2nd and 10, a draw to Tiki up the middle, but it was read by Rocky McIntosh who cut his way up the field to get Tiki for a 2 yard loss. 3rd and 12, Eli in the gun, as Brandon Jacobs came on to stone wall a Redskin blitz, threw a dart in to Carter at the 44 and would have been a first down, but Carter got tangled with Amadi Jimoh and the ball fell to the ground for an incompletion. 4th and 12, Jeff Feagles came on to punt and Randle-El grabbed it going backwards at the 7 yard line, got past the first way of on coming Giants, and looked like he might end up breaking a very long return, but he bumped into Sean Taylor’s back and fell down at the 14 yard line where he was covered up with 1:40 to go in the first quarter.
Betts would take the carry and knife up the middle to the 17 yard line, taken down by Demps. 2nd and 7, Campbell with a play action fake to Betts and tried to hit Moss on a comeback route, but the ball skipped to him on a poor throw. 3rd and 7, Campbell in the gun, stepped up to avoid the rush from Osi, and threw another deep out towards Randle-El. The ball would sail on him and was nearly picked off by Madison at the 30. 4th and 7, Derrick Frost on to punt, booted a short kick to McQuarters, who ran up to grab it at the 46 yard line and he was able to charge forward at the Redskins’ 42 yard line, hit down by Adam Archuleta.
The Giants with great field position, started off with a play action to Tiki and with no one open, threw back to Tiki over the middle at the 39, and Barber was able to get down to the 35, tackled by Kenny Wright. 2nd and 3, Eli back to throw, with time to work with, hit Tyree over the middle at the 31 yard line and he absorbed a big hit by Taylor and went down before the 30, but good for a first down on the final play of the quarter. To start the 2nd quarter, the Giants would actually shift Diehl back to left guard and bring Whitfield back in to play left tackle. Tiki would take the handoff, run behind Diehl and Whitfield and picked his way to the 29 yard line, hit down by Taylor and Vernon Fox. 2nd and 9, Eli would drop back and pump fake a slant to Plaxico on the left side and then come back to his right and took a deep shot down in the end zone for Moss. However, Eli’s bad technique showed up as he fell back when throwing with the rush coming in close and the ball hung up in the air and Fox dropped a would be killer interception. 3rd and 9, the Redskins again came on a blitz, and the Giants picked it up and Eli had enough time to hit Plaxico at the 20, and he turned up to the 15 yard line, taken down by Carlos Rogers. First and 10, Eli faked a pitch to Tiki running to the left and would roll out to his right with plenty of time to throw, tried to hit Carter in the back corner of the end zone, but the WR couldn’t get both feet down and the pass was incomplete. On 2nd and 10, the Giants decided to give the ball to their best player
Tiki took the handoff, followed his fullback Jim Finn to the left side, waited for the blocking to develop and picked a hole, with Rogers running in too quickly and getting chipped off by Chris Snee. Tiki would take a slight hit from Rogers, but bounced off him, kept his balance and took the ball into the end zone, with Taylor taking him down too late as Tiki gave the ball to a Giants fan in the end zone. Feely’s extra point would make the score 10-7 with 13:15 to go in the half.
Feely’s kickoff went to Cartwright at the 2, found a lane and made his way to the 31 as he was dragged down by Kevin Dockery. Washington would begin with a sprint to the left by Betts and he turned the corner and took the ball to the 39, taken out of bounds by Kiwi who chased the play down from behind. 2nd and 2, again the ball went to Betts and he would run to the right side this time, and was able to get just enough of a hole to push forward to the 43 yard line, carrying Short with him for a first down. The Skins would go to the air on the next play with Campbell taking a 7 step drop and sat back looking for a deep shot to Moss, who was open and had the ball in his hands at about the 29 yard line, but with Demps coming over to deliver a shot, Moss alligator armed the ball a bit and dropped it (and if it happened today, Demps’ hit might have drawn a flag since the shot was up near his head). 2nd and 10, the ball went back to Betts trying to run to his right, but Cofield and Kiwi both chased him down for no gain. 3rd and 10. Campbell in the gun, with time, threw a low pass to Cooley for a catch at the 49, covered up by McQuarters, but well short of a first down. After the crowd groaned wanting to go for a first down (they had nothing to lose), Gibbs quickly sent out the punt team on 4th and 3, and Frost who nearly had the punt blocked, got off a beauty, that went over McQuarter’s head and bounced at the 5 and went up in the air and was batted back by Jimoh and downed at the 2 yard line.
With the Giants huddling up in their own end zone, they would start with a fake to Tiki and Eli tried to hit Darcy Johnson on a hook but the ball was just out of his reach. 2nd and 10, the Giants gave the ball on a quick hitter to Finn up the gut to get the ball out to the 5 yard line to try to at least give some breathing room for Feagles. 3rd and 8, Eli back, with a pocket to throw, was able to find Finn out of the backfield at the 7 yard line, and the fullback bulled his way out to the 13 yard line, hit down by Lemar Marshall but good enough for a huge first down. For a second time, the play clock again was near zero so Eli had to burn a 2nd time out with 9:01 to go in the half. Eli would give the ball to Jacobs in a single back formation and he would just plow straight ahead and into former Giant Cornelius Griffin and Marshall out to the 17. 2nd and 7, Eli would fake to Tiki and then take a deep shot to Moss all the way out to the 35, but he had Wright draped all over him and might have been interference but there was no call as the ball was broken up. 3rd and 7, Eli in the gun, would get a great pocket to throw in and threw a rope to Plaxico sitting down in the zone at the 26 and he would fall forward to the 29, taken down by Taylor, but another big third down conversion. On first down, Tiki took the handoff up the gut, but he was met in the backfield by Joe Sala’vea for no gain. 2nd and 10, Eli stood in against a blitz from the Redskins and off his back foot heaved a deep shot down the field in the direction of Carter, but the ball was thrown to the middle and Carter stayed down the sidelines, so it went incomplete. However, a flag down the field on Rogers for an illegal contact gave the Giants’ 5 yards and a first down to the 33. Tiki would run up the middle, and then cut to his right past the linebackers and as he started to hit his stride and look to make a very long run, Taylor came over and blasted him, sending him sideways and down at the 45, but still good for another first down. On the next play, Tiki continued to rip the Redskins up
Just as Cris Collinsworth was talking about the Redskins’ 2 deep zone with the safeties not helping against Tiki, which might open him up for a 200 yard game, the Giants went back to Barber, who took the handoff going up the middle at first, followed a block by Finn on McIntosh, evaded Fox in the hole, cut back to his left, and past the horsecollar tackle attempt by Taylor, and would take off up the left side, got a final seal block from Plaxico down the field and would get in the end zone ahead of the last attempt by Rogers. All the way, Tiki kept that high and tight carrying of the football to avoid any strip but still maintain his speed, though he kind of eased up at the end. Feely’s extra point gave the Giants a 17-7 lead with 5:44 to go in the 2nd quarter.
Feely’s kickoff went to Cartwright at the 9, and he chugged his way to the 31, taken down by James Butler. A hold on the Redskins’ Jeff Posey would send them back to the 21 yard line. Campbell would begin with a fake to Betts, and had Joseph come crashing in on him, which forced him to scramble. As he made his way up the field, and the Giants converged on him, and as he tried to go into his slide very late, Short came over and drilled him right in the head, hurting Campbell at the 22. If this happened today, there were be flags all over the place. Veteran Mark Brunell had to come in as the Redskins trainers looked at Campbell for signs of a concussion and any neck problems. On 2nd and 7, the Redskins’ Jon Jansen got flagged for a false start and made it 2nd and 12. The Redskins would give the ball to Betts up the gut, and he would gain 3, hit down by Gibril Wilson. 3rd and 8, Brunell in the gun, the Giants came on a blitz and McQuarters was picked up and shoved out of the way, giving Brunell a lane to run in. Brunell would scramble up the field and looked to have room as he was in the clear at the 25 yard line. But a younger version of Brunell might have had the speed to get to the first down marker, 36 year old Brunell would get caught by Antonio Pierce and Demps at the 29 yard line, and short of a first down. 4th and 2, Frost’s punt went to McQuarters at the 25 and he would stumble to the 28 yard line with 3:22.
Eli would take to Jacobs, and then throw back to Finn at the 29 yard line and he would make it to the 33, stopped by Warrick Holdman. 2nd and 5, the ball went to Jacobs, who fought his way to the 36, dragging Carter for a few yards. On 3rd and 1, we got a J-Load sighting!
It has been well chronicled the past year that Coughlin didn’t like to run QB sneaks with Eli since he said he’s just not very good at it. However, back in 2006, he had a backup QB named Jared Lorenzen, aka- the Hefty Lefty, the Pillsbury Throwboy, or J-Load, come rumble in his 280+ pound frame as the Giants hurried up their offense, hustled Eli off the field and gave the ball to Lorenzen, who just took the ball and powered forward out to the 39 yard line, easily getting the first down and the two minute warning on his first carry of the year. Eli back in the game and in the gun, evaded the rush from Carter, and threw a swing pass to Tiki in the flat at the 35, Tiki would get around Jimoh and sprint out to the 49, taken down from behind by Daniels, but good for another first down. Eli’s next pass was tipped at the line by Carter, as Diehl was shifted back to left tackle again and Whitfield to the bench. 2nd and 10 with 1:30, Eli would throw a low pass to Carter who dove and got it at the 42, covered up by Jimoh but the clock kept running on a 3rd and 2. Eli in the gun, gave the ball to Tiki out of the shotgun and Tiki picked his way up the middle to the 37 for a first down, taken down by Taylor. With the clock running under 1 minute, Eli back in the gun, with a blitz coming, Eli rolled to his right, tried to hit Carter over the middle, but the ball was dropped. 2nd and 10 with :43 to go, Eli would again give to Tiki out of the gun, and this time he ran to his right, and made it to the 29, taken down by Jimoh and Taylor. 3rd and 1, Eli would come from shotgun to up under center and he would sneak it himself to the 26 and got the first down (see, he can do it) and the Giants took their final timeout with :18 to go in the half.
Eli was in the gun, setting the blocking assignments for the blitz and when it finally came late, he was able to uncork a deep pass to Plaxico in the right corner of the end zone. The 6’6” WR made contact down the field with Jimoh and hauled in the TD pass. However a flag on the play brought a caucus of refs as Jimoh pointed that it was on the Giants, and Plax pointed that it was in the other direction. It turned out both were right, they both committed pass interference and essentially it was a do over with :12 to go in the half. So first and 10 at the 26, Eli again back and he tried another shot in the same area to Plax, and he was double covered by Jimoh and Taylor, with the ball getting batted away, but it could have been pass interference again. After the play however, Jimoh got nailed with a taunting penalty to give the Giants a first down with :06 to go in the half at the 14 yard line. Coughlin decided to take the points and the closer field goal, as Feely connected on a 31 yarder to give the Giants a 20-7 lead with :02 remaining.
Feely would squib the ball down the field and it bounded through several Redskins until it was picked up by Cartwright at the 16 and he took his chances returning it out to the 38 where he was banged down with Gerris Wilkersen to end the first half with the Giants winning 20-7.
The Redskins would kick off to start the second half and Moss fielded the ball about a yard deep in the end zone and ran it out to the 25 yard line, popped by Jimoh, but a hold on James Butler sent the Giants back. Jimoh meanwhile was down on the field with what looked like a neck injury and/or concussion from the hit. The Giants were on the 15 yard line, and Eli began with an inside route to Carter, who dove and to make the catch but it was ruled incomplete. 2nd and 10, the ball went to Tiki running to his right, and got to the 20, tackled by Taylor. 3rd and 5, Eli in the gun, with time to work, was able to find Shiancoe at the 28 yard line, taken down by Marshall, but good for a first down. Barber took the next carry to the right side and only was able to get about a yard, stopped by Daniels. 2nd and 9, Tiki would take the draw up the gut, taken to the 32 yard line, driven down by Taylor. 3rd and 6, Eli back in the gun, would take the snap, stand in against the blitz and tried to squeeze a pass into Plax at the 40, but the ball sailed and nearly was picked off by Wright, however Plax broke it up, saving his QB. On came Feagles to kick it to Randle El, and a high but short punt was taken at the 32, and Randle El danced around a bit until Kiwi shoved him out of bounds at the 32.
Jason Campbell came back out at QB and started with a fake handoff to Betts, and then a fake reverse to Randle El and came back to Betts on a screen to the right side, however, Pierce read the play, fought off a block and took Betts down at the 26 for a loss. 2nd and 15, Campbell back to throw and wanted to go deep, but with no one open, went to Betts as a safety valve at the 30, and he was smacked down by Carlos Emmons as soon as he caught it. On 3rd and 12, the young Redskin QB would make a mistake
Campbell was back in the shotgun, and stepped up and away from Osi’s patented slap attempt at his throwing arm to force a fumble, and Kiwi’s rush up the field to scramble up in the pocket and take a deep shot down the middle, and in on both Moss and Cooley at the 50. Neither Redskin caught it as Kevin Dockery batted it in the air, and it was picked off by Jason Bell at the 46 yard line.
The Giants took the turnover and Eli set up to hit Tiki over the middle at the 50 and he would head across the field and out of bounds at the Redskins’ 48 for a 6 yard gain. 2nd and 4, Tiki took the handoff, running to his left and behind a good block by Diehl on Carter, and took off up the sidelines until he was banged out of bounds at the 38 yard line by Rogers for a first down. Eli would set up in the gun and with a blitz coming fired a deep pass to Carter and he was jostled down by Taylor as the ball actually hit the pylon and knocked it over. The refs would throw a flag on Taylor for pass interference at the 6 yard line and set up a first and goal after the 31 yard penalty. On first and goal, Carter would make another play without the refs help
This play was a staple of the Kevin Gilbride offense inside around about the 5 yard line. A play action fake to a running back and look for the WR to come over the middle on a post pattern and have Eli fire it in there. In this case, it was Tim Carter on the receiving end of Eli’s bullet, beating Taylor in coverage who came up in run support, and the Giants got another huge TD for what looked to be a runaway of a game. Feely’s extra point made it a 27-7 lead with 9:11 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Feely’s kickoff went to Cartwright at the 7 yard line and he chugged his way to the 31 yard line, hit down by Wilkersen and a group of others. Washington started with a handoff to Betts running to his left, and he got a huge hole from Samuel on Osi and Madison was kicked out by the pulling guard Randy Thomas, giving Betts a huge lane to accelerate through and he would power over Wilson and Short to take the ball to the 47 yard line and a big first down. Campbell would throw a quick swing pass to Moss at the line of scrimmage and McQuarters came up to make the tackle after just a 3 yard gain to the Giants’ 49. 2nd and 7, Betts took the carry again and had a hole on the left side and when he looked like he could break it, Demps made a nice tackle in the open field at the 46. 3rd and 4, Campbell in the gun, with a pocket, was able to find Cooley who was open at the 39 and he would make it to the 29 yard line, slung down by Pierce, but yet another big first down. A pitch to Betts running to his right didn’t work as well at the beginning, as the Giants strung him out, but he found a lane and he took the ball to the 25, wrapped up by Joseph. 2nd and 6, Betts was given a breather and the Skins gave the ball to Duckett, who simply ran straight ahead and took the ball all the way down to the 11 yard line, where he was taken down by Wilson and saved a touchdown, however, a facemask penalty on Sellers ruined the big play and pushed the Redskins back to the 40. 2nd and 21, Campbell in the gun was flushed to his right by Kiwi and he would throw a strike to Cooley at the 28 yard line, where he was taken down by Wilson but at least made it a more managable 3rd and 9. Campbell back in the gun and the Giants would bring a blitz from the right side (while dropping Osi in coverage). The Redskins would block it up initially, but the coverage held up and Campbell was swarmed upon by Robbins and Kiwi. He would scramble forward, stiff arming Pierce and then evading Osi in the open field, and he would make his way all the way out to the 13 yard line before stepping out of bounds and a big first down. First down, the ball went to Betts up the gut and he would dance to the 11 yard line, hit down by Wilson as he left his blocking. 2nd and 8, after a play action fake to Betts, the Giants again crashed down on Campbell, but this time the QB couldn’t slip away and he was sacked at the 14 yard line by Robbins and Adrian Awasom. 3rd and 11, Campbell would drop back and only had Betts open in the flat, who would snag it at the 10 and as he tried to cut back, would slip and fall at the 8 yard line, covered up by Madison. On 4th and 4, with a bad team and down 20, Gibbs decided to go for it.
Campbell took the snap and with no pressure, and no one open, would roll to his right to buy more time. With Joseph in pursuit, Campbell would throw across his body over the middle to Betts, who settled down at the goal line between Pierce and McQuarters and hit the ground in the end zone for a TD that suddenly made this more of a game. Suisham’s kick would make it 27-14 with 2:07 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Suisham’s kick would go to Moss at the 4 and he would only get the ball to the 21, where he ran into about 5 Redskins and would get smashed down. Eli would give to Tiki, who ran to his left, followed the block by the pulling O’Hara and found a lane and charged up the sidelines, going all the way down to midfield and he was hogtied out of bounds by Taylor. However, a hold on O’Hara when he was out in space erased it. 1st and 20, Jacobs came in the game and Eli went to the air, trying to throw in to Burress, but he was triple covered and it actually would hit Marshall in the ass. 2nd and 20, Eli in the gun, gave the ball to Jacobs and he chugged ahead to the 13 yard line, taken down by Marshall. 3rd and 17, Eli in the gun, would throw it over the middle to Tyree at the 20, and the wide receiver would get away from Marshall initially and put his head down to try to get as many yards as he could, but that only got him to the 24, taken down by Taylor and short of a first down. The Giants would let the clock run down on 4th down to end the third quarter. Feagles began the fourth quarter and got it off to Randle El who made a fair catch at the 34 with 14:54 to go in the game.
The Skins began with a handoff to Betts running to the left, but he ran into Kiwi and Joseph for no gain. On 2nd down, a false start on Randle El for starting his route too early made it 2nd and 15. A play action to Betts held up the linebackers and Campbell was able to step up in the pocket and away from Osi swooping in on the blind side. He would uncork a deep pass with nice touch to Randle El who had beaten Wilson trailing in coverage and caught the ball at the 47 and he took it out of bounds at the Giants’ 46 for a big gain and a first down. Betts took the next carry up the gut and dragged Osi out to the 41 yard line, however an illegal formation on Santana Moss brought the ball back to the 49 and made it 1st and 15. Another play action, and Campbell rifled an in cut to Randle El at the 41 and he spun inside to the 38, taken down by Pierce and McQuarters. On 2nd and 2, the ball went to Betts running to his right, he would get around Emmons on the edge and try to dive for the first, but got cut down a yard short by Wilson. 3rd and 1, Duckett in the game and they gave it to Sellers, and the big fullback plowed straight ahead and got just enough for a first down, taken down by Robbins at the 35. Campbell would fake to Betts and stand back and drill another pass in to Moss at the 18 yard line, where he caught it and was dropped by Madison, but good for another first down and 8 straight completions by Campbell. A flag on the play for illegal contact on Short was declined as the Giants started to look worried with momentum clearly leaving them. The Skins would fake to Duckett, give Campbell plenty of time to hit Moss coming over the middle at the 14 and he would take it down to the 5 yard line, stepping out of bounds spining away from Short, and 9 straight completions. On first and goal, the pitch went to Betts, who leapt over Emmons and jumped into a group of Giants and was dragged down at the 3 by McQuarters and friends. On 2nd and goal, Awasom would jump across the line cause the Redskins to jump, putting the Redskins down near the 1
Cris Collinsworth said he wondered if there was something called “uh-oh” time for the Giants as the feeling of choking was washing over them in the 4th quarter. That feeling was in full effect as Duckett powered into the end zone, running over Short and Wilson. With the extra point, the score was suddenly 27-21 with 9:25 to go in the game and Giants fans were feeling yet another 4th quarter collapse coming under Tom Coughlin.
Suisham’s kickoff would go to Moss at the 8 and he would take it to the 25 yard line, where he was flipped by Archuleta. The Giants would begin with a run by Tiki going to his right, following Reugamer pulling, and he made a few juke moves in the hole, broke a tackle attempt by Taylor and was able to find enough of a lane to make it close to the 35, tackled by Rogers. The refs would give him a first down on the run. Eli would give a draw to Tiki up the middle and he would make it out to the 38, this time Taylor would rush up and not miss him. 2nd and 7, Tiki would take the carry to the left side this time, and following O’Hara and Snee looked to have some room at first, but he would get tripped up by Marshall and Posey at the 39. 3rd and 5, Eli in the gun, would call a timeout as the play clock was winding down and Taylor also had walked up to the line and the blocking scheme wasn’t set. So a huge 3rd and 5, Eli back in the gun, this time they were ready for the blitz and it was picked up and gave Eli time. He would throw a pass in to Tyree at the 48, but the ball was broken up by Wright. However, a flag on the play, for a defensive hold on Wright, gave the Giants 5 yards and a big first down at the 45. Tiki would take the handoff, again going to his left and with the Redskins closing in, would dive forward out to near midfield. The ball would come loose and as the pile ensued to get the ball, the refs would call him down (which he clearly was, the ball was kicked out by Troy Vincent after he was on the ground). It was now 2nd and 5 at the 50 when Tiki would make yet another big play.
It can’t be understated how important this run was at the time. The Giants were going back to their old pattern of choking which had plagued them in their 2nd half of the season collapse, and particularly in the 4th quarter. The Redskins had scored 14 straight points and momentum was on their side. And Barber would again take control in this game, running to his right and when it looked like the Redskins had sealed the edge, he would cut back and find a small crease, break a tackle attempt from Troy Vincent and then would out run 3 Redskins defensive backs, with the final strip attempt by Wright before he scored covered up (thanks to high and tight) and break it for a 50 yard TD. Feely’s extra point would give the Giants some important breathing room at 34-21 with 6:13 to go.
As the Giants kicked off, they were actually pushed back to the 15 yard line because of an unneccessary roughness call on Ruegamer for shoving a Redskin late on the extra point. Feely, who’s kickoffs were not a strong suit already, this was a problem, and his kick went to the 15 yard line, taken by Cartwright and was able to go to the 32 yard line, stopped by Bell. So the Skins got good field position and faked a pitch to the right and then an inside handoff to Betts who got to the 36, stopped by Pierce. 2nd and 6, Campbell in the gun, had time and hit Randle El at the sidelines and hauled it in at the Giants’ 49, knocked out of bounds by McQuarters. First down, Campbell back again, and with some pressure in his face finally, he would scramble around and would get outside the pocket and throw the ball away to avoid the sack. 2nd and 10, Campbell took the snap, threw another deep out to Moss, who got it on the sidelines and looked to juggle it as he was going out of bounds at the 38 for a first down. Coughlin wasn’t as convinced and threw a red flag for a review. As it would turn out, though it looked like Moss had caught it strangely, against his hip, it was still a catch. The Giants would lose a timeout, their 2nd one, with 5:02 left in the game. So rather than a 3rd and 10, it was first and 10 at the 38. Campbell in the gun again, set up a screen to Betts back to the right side, as all 4 Giants defensive lineman didn’t recognize what was going on, and Betts was able to catch it at the 42, with a convoy in front of him. Betts would take off all the way down to the 5 yard line, tackled by McQuarters. So first and goal, the ball went to Duckett, who was grabbed by Osi well in the backfield (Osi nearly took the handoff) and wrapped him up back at the 9 yard line. 2nd and goal at the 9, Campbell had Emmons rushing right in his face, and he would check down to Cooley at the 5 and the TE would bull his way to the 1 yard line, stopped just short by Kiwi. Now 3rd and goal at the 1, the Redskins would call their first timeout with 3:26 to go in order to set up a play. And Gibbs and Al Saunders would come up with a good one.
A play action fake to Duckett drew in the Giants defense as Demps over committed and come across the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the 260+ pound Sellers, was allowed to slip unnoticed out in the left flat in the end zone, practically doing jumping jacks to get Campbell’s attention as Brandon Short decided to help Osi double on a TE. The easy TD, punctuated with Sellers heaving the ball into the crowd, along with Suisham’s extra point made this a 6 point game, 34-28 with 3:22 left in the game.
At this stage, you would be hard pressed to find a Giants fan who didn’t think they wouldn’t find a way to blow this game and lose 35-34 and end the Coughlin era. Suisham would get off a very short kick, a line drive taken at the 15 by Moss and he would tentatively feel his way to the 28 yard line. The Giants would start with a run to Tiki going to the left side and ran into a run blitz, stopped by Marshall at the line of scrimmage for no gain. 2nd and 10, with the clock running under 3 minutes, the Giants would spread out the offense and Eli tried to hit Burress over the middle in a one on one on Rogers, but the ball was batted down (close to pass interference) and the clock stopped with 2:33 remaining. On would come a huge 3rd and 10, Gibride would go conservative, handing off to Tiki out of the shot gun and he would take the carry up the middle, find a lane but would be tackled by Taylor at the 35 yard line, short of a first down. Washington would call a timeout with 2:26 to go in the game, their 2nd of the game. On 4th and 3, Feagles on to punt, and he would do a great job, booming it down to Randle El at the 22 yard line. Randle El tried to do a spin move to trick the Giants coverage team, but would actually end up falling down, allowing Bell to cover him up for no gain.
So the stage was now set. 78 yards to defend with 2:18 to go and the defense had been awful in the 2nd half. Campbell would begin with a pump fake up the middle and then back to Betts in the flat, but the ball was low and bounced at his feet. 2nd and 10, Campbell in the gun, would have David Patten open down the right sideline, and Campbell tried to float the ball over the corner, but it soared too far. Bell coming over from safety held up from drilling Patten, and saved himself a bad penalty. So it was 3rd and 10 with 2:07, Campbell would drop back, with plenty of time, and tried to drill a deep in route to Patten, who was well covered, and the ball just was out of reach with 2:01 to go. The Redskins’ young QB was starting to show the yips with the game on the line and a 4th and 10.
Campbell in the shotgun, and his offensive line gave him all day to throw. The Redskins would again try to go to the middle of the field, this time to Randle El who was open at about the 38 yard line. But as Campbell tried to zip the ball between defenders, Wilson was able to dive and just tip the ball away and save the game. The ball would be turned over on downs with 1:55 to go in the game.
The Giants would get the ball back at the 22 yard line. Eli would hand off to Jacobs, chugging to his right, with both arms around the ball, and bang into the Redskins offensive line and get to the 20, forcing Washington’s final timeout with 1:50 to go.
With the Redskins unable to stop the clock, the Giants again gave the ball to their 264 pound tailback, and Jacobs would find a hole on the right side and as he was about to break it for a clinching TD, he was grabbed by the facemask and spun around by Marshall as he was dragged down to the 11. Pretty much every referee on the field would throw their flag, possibly refs that weren’t even at the game and were watching at home threw it as well. Jacobs was understandably pissed and popped up ready to fight. But as Collinsworth noted, if he can walk away the game was over. Kareem McKenzie and Darcy Johnson would pull Jacobs away from the fray to save him from himself and the ball would be placed at the 5 yard line for a first and goal with 1:43 to go. Surprisingly, Coughlin wouldn’t go to the victory formation here, perhaps pissed by the egregious facemask, and Jacobs would power down to the 1 yard line, running over Taylor in the process. Maybe they gave Jacobs one shot to score, because after that, the Giants would to go the for the kneel downs, the game would end (but not without a scuffle between Taylor and Finn). As the clock struck 0:00, with the Giants escaping with a much needed 34-28 win, Tiki Barber would roll up 234 yards and 3 TDs and Tom Coughlin would get his Giants into the playoffs.
Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits
- Tiki saved his best for last. His 234 yards rushing was a career high and his final 200 yard game of his career. In all, he hit that milestone 5 times. But technically, in his final game, he did played very well. Rushing for 137 yards in the Wild Card loss at Philly the following week, in what was his real final game.
- Barber’s 234 yards was also a franchise record.
- Tiki would break Jim Brown’s record for best final rushing season of his career. Brown rushed for 1544 yards in 1965 (in 12 games). Tiki would get 1662 yards, topping the Hall of Famer’s final total.
- Tiki’s 55 yard TD was his longest run on the season.
- Other Giants running backs who have gone over 200 yards, since 1981:
- Joe Morris: 202 yards against the Steelers in a 28-10 win in 1985
- Derrick Ward: 215 yards against the Panthers in a 34-28 win in 2008 (which clinched homefield advantage for the Giants)
- Ahmad Bradshaw: 200 yards against the Browns in a 41-27 win in 2012
- This was Eli Manning’s first victory in Washington. He would get perhaps his biggest victory in Washington the next season in 2007. The Giants had started 0-2 and were down 17-3 at half time. An 0-3 start likely puts the Giants to bed for 2007 and Coughlin would be fired (a recurring theme). But the Giants rallied, would take a 24-17 lead and a late goal line stand would win the game and put the Giants a 1-2 and give them a chance to right themselves for an unlikely Super Bowl Championship run.
- Giants’ 97 yard drive was their longest in 4 years.
- Jason Bell’s INT was the only one of his 6 year career. Bell was a backup safety/ special teams player on the Cowboys for one year and then moved on to the Texans for 4 seasons before signing as a free agent with the Giants. Bell would be out of football by the 2007 season.
- Mathias Kiwanuka would wear #97 coming out of college and kept that number through the 2008 season. He would shift to his college number, #94, in the 2009 season and would keep that number up through the 2014 year, when age and injuries caught up and he was released in a salary cap move and looks like he will retire.
- David Diehl was moved to left tackle for this game, which was a risky move so late in the season, with so much going on. The starting left tackle, Luke Petitgout broke his leg against the Chicago Bears which would knock him out for the season. He was replaced by veteran Bob Whitfield. Whifield was a former Pro Bowl player for the Falcons who was winding down his career and was supposed to be just some depth. But Petitgout's injury forced Whitfield in to play, and he infamously would lose his cool against the Cowboys in a loss, getting called for 2 personal fouls for head butts. The following week, in a blowout loss to the Saints on Christmas Eve, Whitfield did it again. Going into the final week, with Whitfield looking like an idiot and taking the Giants down with him, Coughlin would move Diehl over to replace him as a starter. Diehl had been more than the Giants had hoped for. As a rookie 5th rounder out of Illinois, he was the first Giant rookie to start all 16 games since Mark Bavaro in 1985. Diehl would begin at right guard in 2003. In 2004, when Chris Snee was drafted, Diehl shifted to right tackle and started every game there. Following the 2004 season, the Giants signed Kareem McKenzie from the Jets to take over at right tackle, so Diehl shifted again, this time to left guard for the 2005 season. Diehl would remain there until the shift to left tackle at the end of 2006. Diehl would remain at left tackle up through the 2010 season, including earning a Pro Bowl berth after 2009. By 2011, the Giants had put Will Beatty at left tackle and Diehl again shifted inside to left guard. However, an injury to Beatty would force another shuffle, with Diehl moving back to left tackle, and Kevin Boothe would come in to play left guard as the Giants marched to another Super Bowl title. By 2012, Kareem McKenzie had retired, Beatty was healthy, and Diehl moved again, back over to right tackle where he would stay up through the 2013 year, when he injuries would limit his effectiveness and he retired after the 2013 season.
- Jared Lorenzen, a lefty QB in an offensive lineman's body, got his first game action, chugging in on a 3rd and short to barrel forward and get a first down. At 280+ pounds, Lorenzen was long looked at as kind of a freak show, but since his days at the University of Kentucky, people felt that he could be a short yardage specialist. However, he was more than just a QB who could move the pile on a sneak. In college, Lorenzen played all 4 years and had a cannon for an arm. In his freshman year in 2000, he threw for 19 TDs and 21 INTs, as well as 3687 yards. and rushed for 5 more TDs. In fact, in his frosh season, Lorenzen threw for over 300 yards in his first 4 starts, including 363 yards and 2 TDs at Florida. While he was exciting, the Wildcats only went 2-9. 2001 was not much better, going 2-9 again, but Lorenzen would improve his TD/INT line, going 19/7 in that category, and threw for 2179 yards as he missed time due to injury. By his Junior season of 2002, Lorenzen started to turn things around, Kentucky would finish 7-5, and he would go on to throw for 24 TDs and only 5 INTs, and again passed for 2267 yards. In his Senior season, Lorenzen had another strong campaign, throwing 16 TDs to 8 INT, and 2221 yards. While Kentucky struggled to a 4-8 year, Lorenzen was part of one of the craziest games in NCAA History, a 71-63 OT loss at home to Arkansas, when Lorenzen threw for 326 yards and 2 TDs, and would rush for 3 more TDs as well. Lorenzen, not quite the typical build that teams would want at QB, was undrafted and the Giants signed him as a free agent in 2004. However, at the start of camp in July, Lorenzen abruptly quit and left to go home, for family reasons. However, the Giants did not place him on any reserve list, or released him. They held on to his rights. There was something about him that new Giants head coach Tom Coughlin liked. In 2005, Coughlin called Lorenzen and asked him to reconsider and come back. Given a second chance, he accepted and ended up winning the 3rd QB spot on the roster, behind Manning and backup Tim Hasselbeck, as he beat out "The Bachelor" Jesse Palmer. By 2006, Lorenzen had again made the Giants team, making a memorable play in the pre-season, when on a scramble, he literally ran over Patriots linebacker Monty Beisel and put him on his back. Not something you see from an NFL QB. He would sit for the entire season until his sneak against the Redskins.
- In the playoffs, the next week, Lorenzen would again come in on the opening drive, and again push the pile on a 3rd and 1 for 2 yards and a first down. The drive finished for a TD, but the Giants would lose at Philadelphia, 23-20 on a late David Akers field goal.
- Lorenzen would only throw 8 passes in his career, completing 4 of them as he came off the bench in the 2007 season opener when Eli Manning was forced from the game with an elbow injury against the Cowboys in a 45-35 loss. The speculation after that game was that Eli might miss 6 weeks and the Giants could have had to give the reigns to Lorenzen as the backup QB to play on. But Eli, a fast healer and underrated tough guy, was back to play against the Packers the next week and never missed a start.
- Lorenzen would be released after the 2007 as the Giants decided to go with an upgrade at backup and sign former #1 overall pick from the Texans David Carr. Lorenzen would sign with the Colts in 2008, to back up another Manning, Peyton. And he would retire from the NFL after that.
- Lorenzen would stay around the game, first as a coach, and as the Commissioner of the Ultimate Indoor Football League, and also as a player in the Continental Indoor Football League. He would play for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, and in 2011, threw for 3473 yards and 81 TDs. Lorenzen would actually rejoin the team in 2014 and play at QB, at age 34 and 320 pounds.
- Ladell Betts would rush for 92 yards in the game and had a break through year in 2006. Betts would be thrust into a bigger role in the Redskins offense because the usual starting running back, Clinton Portis was injured and only played in 8 games, rushing for 523 yards. The indications were that the Redskins would give the ball to TJ Duckett, a bruising 254 pound running back who Washington acquired from the Atlanta Falcons and was only 25 years old and had rushed for 779 yards and 11 TDs just 3 years prior. However, the Redskins would turn to Betts, who was in his 5th year with the team and his previous career high in rushing was for 371 yards in 2004. Betts would respond with an outstanding 1154 yard performance in 2006. To say it was an outlier wouldn't be stretching things. Betts played 9 yeas in the NFL (8 with Washington and 1 with the Saints) and he never rushed for more than that 371 yard total in any other season.
- Antwan Randel El's TD pass to Santana Moss was his first in a Redskin uniform. Randel El was a college QB at Indiana who was converted to a wide receiver. No big surprise that he was first drafted by the Steelers, who specialized in that. They first started to do that with Kordell Stewart, a QB out of Colorado. With Neil O'Donnell at QB, the Steelers wanted to find a way to get Stewart on the field. So they made him into a WR, and a RB, and a part time QB, hence earning the nickname "slash", as in QB/WR/RB. A few years later, they would draft similar player out of Georgia named Hines Ward and make him into a full time WR. Over the course of his 9 year career, Randel El would throw 27 passes, complete 22 of them for 6 TDs. He would throw 4 of them with the Steelers and 2 with the Redskins. His final TD toss with Washington came in 2008 with an 18 yard TD pass to Chris Cooley in a 23-17 win at Philadelphia. Of course, Randel El's most famous pass would occur in Super Bowl XL as a member of the Steelers against the Seahawks. Midway through the 4th quarter, with the Steelers up 14-10, Randle El would hit Hines Ward with a 43 yard TD pass to put the game away, 21-10. Considering Ben Roethlisberger's poor day (9-23, 123 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), the joke was the best QB for the Steelers that day was not Big Ben, but Randle El.
- Santana Moss had 103 yards receiving in this game, his 3rd 100 yard effort of 2006. In all, Moss had an amazing career when you think of what he accomplished as a small/fast WR out of Miami. Moss was a first round pick of the Jets in 2001 and got off to a slow start, catching 32 passes for 473 yards in his first 2 seasons. He would break out in his 3rd year, with a 74 catch, 1105 yard, 10 TD season. He would follow that up with a decent year, not great, catching 45 passes for 838 yards and 5 TDs. Going into the 2005 season, Moss was talking about a new contract, and the Jets decided to make a move and pulled off a rare one for one trade, sending Moss to the Redskins in return for Laveranues Coles, who was a former Jet who had put up big numbers for Washington in 2003, 82 catches for 1204 yards. Coles had started to wear out his welcome following getting big money from Washington and the Jets wanted him back. So Moss would go to Washington and would blossom into one of the better WRs in the NFL. In his first season in 2005, he made the Pro Bowl (his only one of his career), with 84 catches, 1483 yards and 9 TDs. In all he would play 10 years for the Redskins, catch 581 passes for 7867 yards and 47 TDs. Of the course of his 14 year career, which appears to have ended after 2014, Moss caught 732 passes for 10283 yards and 66 TDs. No too shabby, and certainly better than his little brother, Sinorice. Accorsi traded up for him because he thought that he was like his brother. He did a better job scouting the Mannings.
- All in all, over the course of his career, the Giants pretty much kept Moss in check when they met. Except for 2 games. In 2005, on Christmas Eve, Moss torched the Giants for 5 catches for 160 yards and 3 TDs in a 35-20 win over NY. when you have those few catches and that many yards (and TDs), that means long TDs. And that's exactly what happened. He scored from 17, 59, and 72 yards out. His other big game was when he was a member of the Jets. In 2003, Moss caught 10 passes for 121 yards, and also got 3 TDs. This game would end in a 31-28 Giants win as Brett Conway hit a 29 yard field goal with :04 left to avoid a tie. It would end up being Jim Fassel's final win of his Giants' career.