Monday, July 20, 2015

2006 Giants @ Washington

Week 17

The Setup

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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

1993 Giants vs Cardinals

Week 13

The Setup

One of the great things about sports is that it is not always the superstar who can win a game.  Sure, there is a reason why the biggest/best atheletes in a sport get the big money and endorsements.  Baseball is a stat driven sport.  And over the course of 162 games, teams pretty much well know who their best guys are as the stats will bear it out.  Those are the guys who end up being All Stars and get the $100-$200 million long term contracts.  But in what's called a small sample size, the guy who is a .150 hitter with a crappy OPS might end up hitting a game winning home run.  In football, stats are important, but with only 16 games, and so many other variations thrown in (injuries, weather, new offensive/defensive schemes, etc), the chance for someone who is not considered to be a star to make an impact to win a game is more pronounced.

If you go back to the Giants recent past, particularly in the post season, you can look at 3 games which guys you didn't think about, guys who were not considered to be "stars" made plays to win games.

In 1990, you actually had this happen in 2 games.  In the playoff win over the Bears, you see a 31-3 final score and figure it was a cake walk.  However, the game was close early on and it got out of hand in the 2nd half.  The Bears game was defined by fourth down plays.  In the Giants case, they would end up converting on 3 fourth down plays.  Two were scrambles from Jeff Hostetler (backup QB who no one expected much from) to get first downs.  On the other one, the Giants went 3 TEs on a 4th and short.  The Giants had Mark Bavaro, a shadow of his former self due to knee injuries, but still effective.  Howard Cross, a blocking TE who was becoming more involved in the passing game.  And last was a Plan B free agent pure blocking TE who was signed from the Houston Oilers once they went full run and shoot and ditched the TE position, named Bob Mrosko.  Mrosko caught 3 passes the entire season and none since Week 8 against the Colts.  Hostetler would fake a handoff to OJ Anderson and then hit Mrosko for a 6 yard gain and a big first down.  The next play, Stephen Baker caught a touchdown and the Giants started rolling.

The fouth down which really finished the Bears came a few series later.  Down 10-0, the Bears had driven down inside the 5 yard line.  Mike Ditka tried to power his way in but didn't work.  He tried to get a quick pass off, but Mike Tomzack was rushed by Pepper Johnson and forced a floater.  Down at the 1 yard line, Ditka decided to forego the field goal and try to punch it in.  The Giants defense, filled with big name players like Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Pepper, Leonard Marshall, Erik Howard, etc. lined up against the Bears.  The ball went to fullback Brad Muster and people remember that Pepper would get his helmet knocked off and keep going after the ball carrier.  But the guy who made the play?  John Washington.  A solid/unspectacular 2 way DE who shot the gap to meet Muster and hold him up.  No score for the Bears.  Before the play, John Madden actually said that if the Bears scored, they would have a game, if not, they could be in for a long day.  He was right.

The 2nd time in 1990 was in Super Bowl XXV.  The Bills team was filled with Pro Bowlers.  The Giants, no slouch, had 8 of their own.  The Giants who were down 12-3, and got late TD from Baker to make it 12-10 at the half.  The Giants would embark on a massive 9:39 drive, that would end with an Anderson TD and featured him throw a stiff arm/punch to Mark Kelso that underscored the physical play of the Giants and give them a lead.  But what kept that drive alive was a 3rd and 13 conversion which WR Mark Ingram caught a pass over the middle, dodged about 5 Bill defenders and dragged his way past the first down marker to keep the drive going.  In the Parcells offense in 1990, WRs were an after thought.  The Giants were a power running team, going with Anderson and Rodney Hampton.  Any big plays were reserved for Dave Meggett as a mismatch out of the backfield.  Ingram, a former first rounder, only caught 26 passes in 1990.  But there he was making one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history to help the Giants win.

So, an unknown WR making a huge play in the Super Bowl to help the Giants win.  Of course, this list has to have David Tyree on it.  Tyree was known as a special teamer.  And he was so good in fact that he made the Pro Bowl in 2005 as a cover man.  As a WR however, he was very much an afterthought on the 2007 Giants.  Tyree would only catch 4 passes the entire season.  Much of the Giants offense in 2007 came from Plaxico Burress and a rookie WR named Steve Smith.  As the Giants defense smothered the unbeaten Patriots and beat up Tom Brady in particular, the Giants offense hung in the game.  In the 4th quarter down 7-3, the first Giants TD was caught by...Tyree.  Tyree hadn't scored a TD since Week 13 of the 2006 season in a 27-13 win at Carolina.  And, of course, you had the helmet catch on 3rd and 5 from the Giants' 44 yard line.  The play was called "76 Union Y sail" and as the defensive line collapsed around Eli and nearly sacked him, he pulled free, fired a 32 yard duck up the field, which Tyree caught and secured with his helmet as Rodney Harrison was all over him.  Of course, that led to the Plaxico TD and made the Patriots the only 18-1 team to not win a Super Bowl.

So we've seen games that were won thanks to the contributions of little used WRs, backup blocking TEs, and lunchpail DEs.  How about a game won thanks to a strong legged kicker who was used as a kickoff specialist and long range howitzer hoping for the best.  That's what ended up happening in this game between the Giants and Cardinals in 1993.  The Giants came into this Week 13 matchup with a 7-3 record, and shockingly had a half game lead on the heavily favored Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.  They got that lead thanks to Leon Lett screwing up at the end of the Thanksgiving game against the Miami Dolphins when he lumbered over to try to recover a blocked field goal that had gone beyond the line of scrimmage.  However, the field in Dallas that day was a sheet of ice and of course a DT trying to recover a lose ball in those conditions, it was easy to see why he blew the recovery, touched the ball and let Miami fall on it just short of the end zone, allowing Pete Stoyanovich to hit a 19 yard field goal to win the game 16-14.  The Giants were a team going in the right direction after 2 straight losses following their 2nd bye of the season (in 1993, they had 2 bye weeks).  They had beaten Redskins at Giants Stadium, 20-6, and then won slugfest in Philly 7-3 on a 4th quarter TD to Mark Jackson.  In their way was a Cardinal team which never played well in Giants Stadium.  They hadn't won there since 1980.  And Joe Bugel had put a scare in the Giants in 1990, in a game I previously reviewed which the Giants won 20-19 on a late Matt Bahr field goal at the gun.

So the Giants went into this game, seemingly with a gift wrapped up for them.  A laughably bad Dallas loss in front of a nationwide audience a few days before and playing against a team that they had pretty much owned for the better part of a decade at the Meadowlands.  It should be a cake walk..right?

The Game Highlights

Brad Daluiso came on to kick off as the wind immediately blew the ball off the tee, which was a theme going into this game with 40 mph winds predicted along with rain for this game.  Chris Calloway acting as the holder on the kickoff, Daluiso’s boot went to Johnny Bailey at the goal line and he set the Cardinals up in a big way, accelerating past his blockers, nearly untouched all the way out to the 45 yard line, where only Dalusio was waiting, and the kicker grabbed on to the return man and dragged him down near midfield, and by grabbing his facemask.  With the penalty added on, the 48 yard return, plus the 15 yards all the way to the Giants’ 36 yard line, but it was still better than giving up a TD.  On came Steve Beuerlein at QB, and he handed off to Ron Moore, running to the right side and pounded his way to the 28 yard line, dragging Carlton Bailey.  2nd and 2, a draw to Moore up the gut, but this time he was stacked up by Michael Brooks after a 1 yard gain.  

3rd and a long 1, the Cardinals again gave the ball to Moore, but Mike Fox just plowed Mark May, the former Redskin, about 4 yards deep in the backfield and right into Moore, who was then swallowed up by Fox, Jesse Armstead, Myron Guyton and Brooks.  The loss on the play ruined a chance at what could have been a TD after such great field position and on came Greg Davis with a 47 yarder into the wind and he put it down the middle to make the score 3-0 Phoenix with 12:45 to go in the first quarter.

Davis would come on to kickoff and going into the wind got off a short kick that was taken by Dave Meggett at the 11 yard line and he would run to his right and was angled out of bounds at the 29 yard line.  With Aaron Pierce in motion, the ball went to Rodney Hampton, running to his right, would end up getting stacked up by the Cards defensive line and dropped for a 2 yard loss by Rueben Davis.  2nd and 12, Phil Simms would pitch to Hampton running to his left, but on the pitch he bobbled it and allowed Chris Oldham to come up and grab him, actually forcing a fumble, but it was recovered by Hampton at the 25, for another loss.  Now 3rd and 14, Simms in the shotgun, would get a good pocket and fire a deep pass over the middle towards Ed McCaffrey, who was open at midfield, but Simms sailed the ball over the 6’5” WR’s head.  On would come Mike Horan, who got off a poor punt that was angled by the sidelines (which was why Horan replaced Sean Landeta to begin with), and bounced at the 36 and went to Bailey, who grabbed it at the 26, and his momentum took him out of bounds.  In all, a 48 yard punt with no return, so it looked like a boomer in the box score.

The Cardinals started off with another handoff to Moore running to his right, and he picked his way through the line and carried Bailey and Brooks all the way to the 31 yard line.  2nd and 5, Beuerline back, with a rush from LT forcing him up in the pocket, but because of his bulky knee brace, he couldn’t run and dumped it off toward Moore, but the ball was at his feet and hit the ground.  3rd and 5, the Cards gave the ball to their scat back, Bailey, who followed the pulling Luis Sharpe and May into the hole and he cut back up the middle to the 37 yard line, tackled by Corey Raymond for a first down.  Phoenix would again hand off, and again to Bailey, who burst up the middle again, and gained 11 yards out to the 47 yard line for another first down, taken down by Bailey.  A third straight run went to Bailey, again running towards the right side, but the Giants were better prepared and he taken down by Keith Hamilton and Bailey at the Giants’ 49.  2nd and 6, Beuerlein back, dumped off to Bailey at the 47 yard line, he juked around the Giants’ Bailey and took it to the 41, stopped by Mark Collins, but good for another first down.  The Cardinals would go back to the ground, give to Moore, this time running to his left, and he cut inside a block on Fox, and through an arm tackle by Guyton, where he fell forward to the 30, ridden down by Miller as the Giants’ fans began booing as it was yet another first down.  Beuerlein would try a hard count and give it to Moore, who picked his way up the middle and was corralled by Bailey, Greg Jackson, and Lawrence Taylor at the 26 yard line.  2nd and 6, another run to Moore, who tried to go to his right, but Erik Howard shoved Lance Smith in the backfield and messed up the scheme, allowing Guyton and Fox to finish him off at the 27 for a loss.  3rd and 7, Beuerlein on a 5 step drop, slung a pass to Randall Hill at the 24 yard line and he tried to fight his way to the first down sticks, but was met hard by David Tate and Armstead at the 21 and short of the first down.  Rather than go for the field goal, Bugle decided to try to go for it, and sent out Garth Jax, a linebacker, as a blocking fullback.  As the Cards tried to get their plan together, they ran out of time and had to call a timeout.  

So on 4th and 1, Moore made Bugle looks smart, taking the ball to the left side and through the line as Brooks was sealed off and he got the ball all the way down to the 14 yard line, hit by Miller and Jackson.  On first down, Howard jumped offsides, but the Cards dumped the ball off to Bailey on a screen, and he picked his way to the 4 yard line, stopped by Guyton, Raymond and Collins on what was a free play and made it first and goal.  On first down, Phoenix gave the ball to Larry Centers, running to his left and crashed his way to the one yard line, stopped just short by Brooks and Willie Beamon.  Just a few inches away, the Cards would give to Moore, and as he tried to jump over the pile, the Giants got through the line and he was caught in the air by LT and Michael Strahan and was pushed back, short of a TD and he would get shaken up on the play.  After Moore had left the field, the Cards were in a 3rd and goal to go situation and they would cash in

The Cardinals put Jax back in at fullback and the Giants sold out for the run and bought the play action fake to Centers (so did the camera man), that left Butch Rolle, the former Buffalo Bill, able to find his way to the corner of the end zone, with LT in pursuit, for an easy touchdown as the Giants’ crowd was silent.  Davis would add the extra point was good and made the score 10-0 with 2:19 to go in the first quarter as the boo birds began to make their mating call at the Meadowlands.

Davis to kick off again and it would be a little better, taken by Meggett at the 6 yard line, and he would dance his way up to the 27 yard line, stopped by Lorenzo Lynch.  The crowd tried to get the Giants going and they started with a fake to Hampton, and Simms rolled into a blitz by Oldham, and was able to just throw the ball away, somehow intentional grounding was not called.  On 2nd and 10, the Giants finally were able to get something going their way

Simms dropped back and again had a pocket to throw in.  Hampton had come out of the backfield and got behind the linebackers to take in the catch at the 36 yard line, with lots of room to run.  And run he did, cutting up the field and breaking a tackle attempt by Chuck Cecil at the 42 yard line and then sprinting up the left sidelines, all the way down to the 11 yard line, shoved out by Aeneas Williams.  All in all, a 62 yard gain.  First and 10, Hampton took the carry on a quick handoff and powered his way to the 7 yard line, stopped by Tyrone Stowe.  2nd and 6, Simms would again give to Hampton running to his right, and he ran into the line, tackled at the 5 yard line by hit by Eric Hill.  3rd and 4, Simms in the gun, and had some time to throw early on, but as the protection broke down, he tried to hit Keith Crawford in the right corner of the end zone, but it was over thrown.  David Treadwell came on to kick a 22 yard FG and he was able to bang it through to make the score 10-3 with :04 to go in the first quarter.

Daluiso on to kick off, and again the ball blew off the tee which brought Calloway on to hold it,  and he was able to bang it 7 yards into the end zone for a touchback on the final play of the first quarter.  First down, the ball went to Moore, who cut back to his left and ran smack into Brooks at the 23 yard line.  2nd and 7, Beuerlein back, with pressure up the middle, he gimped his way to his right and was tattooed by Raymond as he got the ball away to Ricky Proehl at the 32 yard line, and he fought his way to the 37 yard line, stopped by Collins and Stacey Dillard.  1st and 10, again to Moore, and he took it up the middle, hit by Bailey but surged forward to the 43 yard line.  2nd and 5, Beuerlein back, with time, tried to throw an out to Hill, but the ball floated out of bounds.  3rd and 5, on what was a busted shovel pass attempt to Centers, the play was scraped as the Giants got in the passing lane, forcing Beuerlein to roll to his right and look to do anything with the pass.  What ended up happening was he got sacked by Hamilton and LT at the 39 yard line and fumbled the ball.  Luckily for the Cardinals, the officials called him down and negated Howard’s recovery of the ball.  Rich Camarillo came on to punt and he boomed one to Meggett that took him deep in the left corner to field it at the 6 yard line, and Meggett just avoided stepping out of bounds and danced his way to the 15 yard line, hit down by Jax after a 55 yard punt.  

Simms led the team out and dropped back on a 3 step drop and attempted an out pass to Mark Jackson, but the ball was tipped at the line and bounced off his hands.  2nd and 10, Simms again back, with a blitz in his face that was picked up, and he threw a pass to Jarrod Bunch which was just a little too far from his out stretched arms, and it bounced off of him as he took a shot from Hill.  3rd and 10, Simms in the gun, and again the Cardinals blitzed, and again it was picked up, and his deep pass towards Crawford went a little too far to the inside as the young WR cut off his route over the middle and it hit Lynch in the gut and he dropped an easy INT.  On came Horan to punt away and it chased Anthony Edwards all the way to the 35 yard line and he lost his balance and went out of bounds at the 34 for a 52 yard punt.

The Cardinals would start with a counter play to Moore, who cut back up the middle and was met by LT and knocked backwards for a 1 yard gain.  2nd and 9, on another mess of a play, the Cards tried to run a counter to the left, but the pulling guards actually knocked into Beuerlein, who fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Centers at the 33.  However, the reason by he got hit by Lance Smith was because of a false start, when Smith came out of his stance too soon.  So the penalty made it 2nd and 14.  Beuerlein back, with time, and as he tried to hit Proehl over the middle, the ball was tipped down at the line by Dillard.  3rd and 14, Beuerlein dropped back with time, and had to dump it over the middle to Centers, but he was well short of the first and dropped the ball on the hit by Armstead.  So on came Camarillo, got off a high punt, but not that far, taken on a fair catch by Meggett at the 24 yard line with 10:42 to go in the first half.

First and 10, a pitch to Hampton running right, and he was able to get 4 yards, corralled by Jones.  2nd and 6, again Simms had his pass knocked down by Davis at the line, which put Simms line a 1-8, for 62 yards.  3rd and 6, Simms in the gun, with time to throw, and he tried to hit Calloway on an in cut, but the ball was just out of his reach.  However, an offsides on the Cardinals made it 3rd and 1.  In the jumbo package, the Giants tried to cross them up with a pass, but no one was open and Stowe barged in for a big sack at the 22, as Bunch completely whiffed on the block.  Horan again on to punt, and he narrowly missed a block and got it off to Edwards at the 32.  Beamon actually got to him as the ball did and moved to avoid him so he wouldn’t get the interference call.  But Edwards didn’t call for a fair catch either and tried to sneak his way up the field, but was met by Marcus Buckley at the 33.  

First and 10 for Phoenix, a play action fake to Moore and Beuerlein rolled right into LT.  However, he was able to get around him (something that would never have happened in his prime), and found Proehl over the middle at the 47 yard line, and he hit the ground at the 48, downed by Collins, but a big first down.  Moore would take the next carry right up the middle, but was met by Brooks and Fox for no gain.  2nd and 10, Beuerlein dropped back, with a rush coming on him from Fox, and his pass would get batted down by Hamilton.  3rd and 10, Beuerlein back again, with plenty of time to throw and Centers made a diving catch at the Giants’ 43 yard line, hit down by Armstead just short of a first down.  Bugel decided not to gamble and sent out Camarillo, and we got some controversy

The Pro Bowl punter Camarillo got off a beauty of a kick, a high punt that was angled and hit down at the 8 yard line and bounced towards Edwards, who looked to make a great play fielding it at the 1 yard line.  However, he did not control the ball and hit the pylon in the end zone, making it a touchback.  The Cardinals were livid, Garth Jax in particular, but Tom White described what had happened, in that inside the 5 yard line, he wasn’t touched and rolled into the end zone.  By rule it was a touchback.  But as Dan Fouts would point out, he might have gone out of bounds before his butt hit the pylon.  But no instant replay in 1993, we moved on.  

The Giants had the ball at the 20 and the draw went to Hampton up the gut, who was hit and danced around in the backfield, but he eventually was tackled by Michael Bankston for no gain.  2nd and 10, Simms dropped back and dumped off a little shovel pass to Meggett at the line of scrimmage and he picked his way up to the 28 yard line, hit by Mike Zordich.  3rd and a short 2, Simms back with time and was able to drill a pass into Mark Jackson over the middle at the 38 yard line and he was able to make it to the 43 yard line, taken down by Oldham for a first down.  Coming out with 2 TEs, Simms faked a pitch to Hampton and rolled to his right and smack into a blitz.  He was able to float a pass over Aaron Pierce’s head to avoid the sack.  2nd and 10, Simms back again, with plenty of time, was able to find Calloway, who sat down in the zone at the 48 yard line, and he turned up the field and got to the Cardinals’ 42 yard line, taken down by Oldham.  First down, Simms again back, and after a pump fake to bring up the linebackers, he was able to hit Jackson on a corner route and out of bounds at the 25 yard line (which if he didn’t just stroll out of bounds, he could have gotten another 5 yards if he turned up the field).  However, still another first down, and the ball went to Hampton running on a sweep to the right, past Eric Hill, and turned the corner to the 22 yard line, tackled by Zordich and Lynch.  2nd and 7, Simms dropped back, with a rush coming in on him, dumped the ball to Hampton in the flat at the 22 yard line, and he was able to get past Stowe in a one on one matchup in the open field  and was tripped up at the 17, however a hold on Doug Reisenberg, who grabbed Freddie Joe Nunn, set the Giants back.  2nd and 17 at the 32, Simms back, and he tried to throw a low pass in to Jackson, but he dropped the ball as he started to dive.  3rd and 17, Simms in the gun, he rolled out to his right and looked to set up to throw a deep pass.  However, the Cardinals covered it all, so he would dump it off back over the middle to Jarrod Bunch at the 32, and the big fullback rumbled his way out to the 20 yard line, ridden down by Zordich, but short of the first as the clock wound down to the 2 minute warning.  Treadwell would come on to hit a 37 yarder to make the score 10-6 with 1:55 to go in the half.

Daluiso’s kickoff, this time into the wind, was taken at the 1 yard line by Edwards and he weaved his way to the 17 yard line, stopped by Armstead.  On the play there were actually 3 penalties and a caucus with Tom White to sort it all out. An offsides on the Giants was declined, as a 15 yard facemask on the Giants and a hold on the Cardinals had some arcane rule that 2 fouls on a change of possession put the ball at the spot of the Cardinals penalty and it was their ball at the 17.  I don’t know, never really saw that before.  Cards ball with 1:48 to go, and a draw went to Centers up the gut to the 21 yard line, tackled by Hamilton and Fox.  The next play was another handoff to Center up the gut, and this time he was dragged down by LT at the 25.  In this semi-hurry up, the Cards had to burn a timeout because they couldn’t get the signal in on a 3rd and 2 with 1:07.  What they came up with was a trap to Centers, who got around Hamilton in the backfield, and he cut up the field and got all the way to the 35, stopped by Brooks.  But with the clock running, Beuerlein back to throw, had a rush coming in on him from Dillard and he scrambled up to the 34, where he was taken down by Dillard and Fox for a sack.  With the clock running on 2nd and 12, Beuerlein dumped it off to Proehl over the middle at the 41, and he got past Brooks and took it out of bounds at the 45 to stop the clock with :24, but it was good enough for a first down.  Beuerlein back again, and as the pass rush started to close in on him, he dumped it to Moore at the 50, where he was taken down by Bailey almost immediately.  Beuerlein would spike the ball with :08 to go and just one time out.  Beuerlein back and threw to Proehl over the middle at the 38, and he was nailed by Jackson and Tate with :01 to go as the Cards called their last time out as Proehl got hurt on the play, with what looked like a concussion.  On came Greg Davis for a 54 yarder with the wind at his back.  

Verne Lundquist said that Davis was nearing hitting 63 yarders in warmups with the wind at his back.  So 54 yards was within his range.  However, we’d never find out, as Pat Beach’s long snap came too far in on Beuerlein’s body, so the whole timing of the kick was screwed up as he tried to put the ball down.  As Beuerlein fumbled, he got up and someone must have yelled “fire” to have the blockers scramble to get open, but Beuerlein playing on a bad knee was tackled by Armstead and Fox to end the half at 10-6 with the Cardinals in the lead.  

The Cardinals would kick off to start the 2nd half, with Davis sending it deep to Meggett at the 1 and he cut his way up the sidelines all the way to the 31, shoved out of bounds by Lynch.  The Giants offense began with a handoff to Hampton running to his left, and only got a 1 yard gain, hit by Hill and Stowe.  2nd and 9, Simms back and tried to throw to Meggett on a wheel route, but Simms was buried by Lynch on a corner blitz and made the ball float off course.  3rd and 9, Simms in the gun, the Cards would blitz and because of the rush his pass was underthrown on an out route and was nearly picked by Lynch.  Horan’s punt was a poor effort, that bounced out of bounds at the 36 yard line, a weak 31 yard kick.

After a brief delay from an official tripping and falling down after setting the ball for play, Phoenix started with a play action fake and a deep out to Proehl, which was under thrown and dropped.  2nd and 10, an inside handoff to Moore was met at the line of scrimmage by Dillard and Fox for a one yard gain.  3rd and 9, Beuerlein would drop back and roll to his right, set up and found Proehl over the middle, but the possession WR had to come back for the ball and end up catching it short of a first down.  After a measurement showed they were a good yard short, and a moment of thought, Bugel sent out the punt unit.  Camarillo’s kick went to Meggett at the 9 yard line, with no fair catch, and he wiggled his way to the 14.  A flag on the play and after a lengthy discussion that involved 5 officials, the refs decided there was no penalty, with no explanation as to what was going on.

The Giants began deep in their own end again, and on first down, Simms back on a 3 step drop, tried a quick slant, but Keith Rucker jumped and batted it down (not bad for a 360 pound guy).  On 2nd and 10, the Giants were able to get a deep play

With Howard Cross coming in motion, Simms dropped back as Fritz Shurmur brought another blitz.  The Giants picked it up and Simms was given a lane to move out of the pocket to his left and set up a deep throw to Chris Calloway who got open at the 49 yard line.  Calloway would put his head down and take it to the Cardinals 47 yard line, tackled by Robert Massey and a 38 yard gain.  Replays would show if Simms might have led Calloway a little more, it could have gone for an even longer gain.  First down, Hampton took the carry up the middle, but again there wasn’t much to work with against the huge Cardinals DT, as Rucker dragged him down and nearly forced a fumble for only a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, Simms back, again a blitz, and hit Jackson over the middle, at the 42, where he was bounced backwards by Stowe.  3rd and 3, Simms in the gun, and on a hard count, the veteran QB got the Cards to jump, setting up a free play and a strike in to Jackson at the 35 yard line where he pushed Williams forward to the 33 and a first down so the Giants declined the penalty and took the catch and yardage.  First down, Simms again back, again with time, hit Calloway on a crossing route for a 4 yard gain, taken down by Stowe at the 29.  2nd and 6, Simms gave to Meggett on a draw up the gut and he picked his way through the Cards, absorbed a hit by Cecil, and pushed his way to the 20 for a first down.  The Giants would give to Bunch on the next play, and the big fullback tried a sweep to the left side and was met by Stowe for no gain.  The Giants decided that if the ground game wasn’t working, it was time to go back to the air

On 2nd and 10, Simms would again drop back as the Cardinals decided not to blitz.  Given a perfect pocket, Simms was able to rifle a deep pass in to Ed McCaffrey, found the lane between Cecil and Massey on a post pattern (it was actually a double post, with Jackson also cutting in, forcing Cecil to commit and leave someone open).  The big WR hauled it in and hit the ground in the end zone for a big 20 yard TD.  After a delay on the extra point because of an encroachment penalty on the Cardinals for jumping over the center too soon, Treadwell’s extra point gave the Giants a 13-10 lead on an 86 yard drive in 9 plays with 7:40 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Daluiso’s kickoff was delayed as the ball was blown off the tee (again), and with the wind at his back, his kick would actually hit off the back blue wall in the end zone.  Cards first and 10 at the 20, the ball went to Moore up the gut, and he was tackled by Howard and Brooks for just 1 yard.  2nd and 9, the ball went to Centers, who looked to be stopped in the backfield by Fox, but he bounced off the hit and was able to get a head of steam up the field and ran over Willie Beamon at the 26 and rolled forward to the 29 yard line.  3rd and 1, again the ball went to Centers, and he just ran straight ahead for a 2 yard gain, stopped by Fox and Bailey, but good enough for a first down.  The Cards would stay on the ground, this time to Moore, running to his right, and he dragged Brooks out to the 37 yard line.  2nd and 5, Beuerlein back, with plenty of time in the pocket and the ball was rifled in to Gary Clark at the 44 yard line and he was hit down by Myron Guyton at the 40 for a big first down for the former Redskin.  The pitch to the right to Moore looked like it wouldn’t work as the Giants strung it out but he got around Jackson, and cut his way inside and fell forward for a 3 yard gain.  2nd and 7, Beuerlein back, tried to hit Clark on an out pattern, but he couldn’t get both feet down, so it was incomplete.  3rd and 7, Beuerlein back, with plenty of time again, and he was able to throw a bullet into Clark down the seam, and the ball just went past Collins and was hauled in by Clark at the 20, he would shake off a hit from Jackson, and make it to the 17, where he caught from behind by Armstead, but still good for a first down.  On the next play, the Cards would keep the momentum going

The son of a family of Giants season ticket holders, Proehl came across the field and underneath the linebackers, Beuerlein hit him in stride, leading him ahead of the trailing Bailey, and Proehl easily beat Jackson to the end zone and in which put the Cardinals back in front.  Proehl would throw the ball into the stands, to his family, but some gavone Giants’ fan grabbed it and tried to chug his fat ass up the aisle, until he was held up by the Proehl family and he would eventually give the ball up to his mom.  Davis’ extra point made the score 17-13 with 2:24 remaining in the 3rd quarter.  

Davis’ kickoff would be of the short, pooch variety, taken by Howard Cross at the 24 yard line.  The usual blocking TE took the ball up to the 37 yard line and shoved out of bounds.  Meanwhile, after the play there was a skirmish by the Giants’ bench that lead to a personal foul and facemask penalty against Rodney Hampton on sidelines who got into a fight and brought the Giants back to the 23 yard line.  The Giants would begin with a draw to Hampton up the gut, and he was able to get 3 yards, stopped by Rucker.  2nd and 7, Simms back on a 3 step drop, threw a quick slant to a diving Jackson at the 34, covered up by Massey, but good for a first down.  Simms would fake the handoff to Hampton, and on a blitz would dump off to Cross at the 38 yard line where he was wide open and he would stiff arm Oldham all the way to the 45 and out of bounds, good for another first down.  In a change of pace, the Giants gave the ball to Lewis Tillman, and the slashing running back, started to his right, cut back up the middle and took the ball all the way to the 44 yard line, stopped by Cecil, but yet another first down.  On the final play of the quarter, Simms would drop back and throw an outlet to Calloway, who made a nice over the shoulder snag at the 45, but was met by Massey at the 44 and driven back.  2nd and 9, the Giants would stay in the air to start the 4th quarter

Simms went with a hard count and nearly got the Cards to jump, but they didn’t bite, and he would drop back with plenty of time to throw.  He was able to find Jackson, who beat Oldham on a post pattern and made a diving catch at the 7 yard line.  Not too bad for throwing into the wind.  First and goal at the 7, the ball was given to Tillman on a quick hitter to the right, and looked to have a hole, but it closed on him with Rucker and Stowe making the play at the 5.  2nd and goal, Simms would drop back, throw to Hampton in the flat at the 5, but he stopped to make the catch, allowing Williams to run up and hit him for no gain.  3rd and goal, the Giants ran out of time on the play clock and had to burn their first time out with 13:04 to go in the game.  With Calloway in motion, Simms dropped back and tried to hit Derek Brown in the end zone, but Oldham made a diving play on the ball to knock it down.  Treadwell would come on to put through the 22 yarder to make the score 17-16 with 12:56 to go in the game.

Daluiso on to kick, again the ball blew off the tee, and it would go to Edwards at the 5, he would go up the field and cut to his right, but would get driven out of bounds by Armstead at the 23.  The Cardinals would start out with a pass as Beuerlein would dump the ball off to Walter Reeves at the 23, and the big TE would run over Brooks and rumble out to the 30.  2nd and 3, Centers would take the draw up the gut, dodge around a few Giants, and fall forward to the 34 yard line, stopped by Howard, but good for a first down.  Centers would take the next carry, running to his right, would absorb a hit by Collins and was spun down at the 38 yard line.  2nd and 4, Beuerlein back, had the ball batted at the line by Howard, and on the deflection, Reeves tried to grab it, but he would also bat it in the air as he was hit by Brooks, which nearly resulted in an interception by Corey Raymond.  3rd and 4, Beuerlein would roll out to his right, and throw back on a screen to his left to Centers, who caught it at the 35, and with blockers in front, took it up to the 46, hit down by Bailey and Collins, but good for another first down.  Phoenix would go back to the ground, handing off on a trap to Centers running to his right, he would cut back as Bailey over pursued and got the ball out to the Giants’ 49, tripped up by Bailey.  2nd and 6, Beuerlein back, with time, tried to throw a home run ball to Hill deep down the field, but the ball just sailed out of bounds.  3rd and 6, Beuerlein back, and had a rush in his face from Hamilton, which forced him to get rid the ball too quick, so it went behind Clark, who slipped and fell at the 38 yard line, for what would have been a first down, but no dice.  

Camarillo on to punt, would get off a poor effort for him, bouncing at the 25, but it rolled forward to Meggett at the 13 yard line, who ran sideways and forced out of bounds at the 13 yard line by Dave Duerson.  A flag on the Cardinals for unsportsmanlike conduct as the refs again took forever to discuss the penalty and decide on a punishment.  Finally, the refs would announce that Anthony Edwards, in complaining to the officials about a hold, bumped the ref and was ejected from the game with 8:42 to go, but more importantly, put the ball at the 28 yard line.

So the Giants would start off with a pass by Simms over the middle to Calloway at the 33, and he would turn up the field and take it to the 40, knocked down by Hill, but a first down.  Simms would give to Hampton up the gut, and again there was not much for him to work with, taken down at the 41 by Hill.  2nd and 9, Simms would drop back, again go to Calloway over the middle at the 47, and he would make his way to the Cardinals’ 44, dragged down by Williams from behind, but yet another first down.  Tillman would get the carry, try to sprint to his right, but was strung out by the Cardinals and dropped by Stowe at the 40 as the clock was running to under 6 minutes.  2nd and 6, Simms back and tried to hit Cross on an out route, but the ball sailed and was nearly picked by Williams for what would have been a walk in TD return if he caught it.  3rd and 6, Simms in the gun, tried to get a pass in to Jackson, who beat Williams, but the ball was off his fingertips at the 27.  If he caught it, he could have taken it down to inside the 20.  But that didn’t happen, so on came Horan to punt.

Proehl was back as the 3rd string punt returner, with Bailey injured and Edwards ejected.  Horan’s punt went over Proehl’s head on a fair catch call, and looked to bound into the end zone as it bounced at the 10.  However, nickel linebacker Armstead, who played as a gunner on special teams as a rookie, batted the ball at the 2 yard line and sent it back to the 4 yard line, downed by Corey Miller.  A huge play with 5:41 to go to keep them deep in their own end.

The Cardinals started with a handoff up the middle to Centers, who was met by Howard and Bailey after just a 2 yard gain.  2nd and 8, Beuerlein back, with a rush in his face from Howard and Hamilton, rushed a pass in to Clark, who grabbed it at the 15 yard line for a first down as the clock continued to run.  Centers would take the next carry, and showed some power, as he fought off several tacklers, held on the ball and powered to the 20.  2nd and 5, Beuerlein back, with another rush from Hamilton, threw over the middle to Centers, who snagged it at the 23 and was driven back by Bailey.  

3rd and 2, Beuerlein tried a hard count to draw the Giants offsides, but with his shouting and headbob, actually cost the Cardinals 5 yards on a false start.  On 3rd and 7, Beuerlein tried to set up a screen pass, but he was chased and went backwards with Hamilton and Howard coming in on him, forcing him to float the ball away and incomplete.  So the Cardinals had a chance to put the game away, and didn’t.  On came Camarillo, who booted a great kick to Meggett out of bounds at the 33 yard line with 2:21 to go.  A 49 yarder with no return.

Simms would start out with a deep throw towards McCaffrey and Jackson, both running streaks, but the ball fell incomplete.  However, an illegal hands to the face on Bankston gave the Giants 5 yards and a first down.  

Now at the 38, Simms again back, tried to go to Meggett in the flat, but the ball floated out of bounds.  Another flag on the play, this time a personal foul on the Giants for a chop block on Brian Williams and William Roberts, on a dirty hit on Bankston at his knees, set the Giants back to the 23 and made it first and 25.  Simms in the gun, hit Crawford over the middle at the 27, and was taken down by David Braxton took the game to the 2 minute warning.  2nd and 19, Simms again in the gun, had a rush from Ken Harvey who was bearing down on him and hit him as he threw the ball and knocked it away.  Eric Moore was called for a hold on the play, and the Cardinals accepted, making it 2nd and 29, going further backwards at the 19 yard line.  Simms, in the gun, would dump off to Meggett as the Cardinals dropped everyone deep, and he caught it at the 19, and the little scatback would juke his way to the 30, taken down by Zordich.  The Giants would call their 2nd time out with 1:44 to go on a 3rd and 18.  

Simms in the gun had some time initially and would scramble to his right, and get hit by Freddie Joe Nunn just as he threw the ball up field.  The cameraman would be a moment late, but Verne Lundquist’s call let everyone know that Simms had found Mark Jackson for a huge first down as he caught it at the 43 and dove forward to the Cardinals’ 48 yard line, hit down by Lynch.  Simms would hustle his team to the line to spike the ball with 1:21 to go.  2nd and 10, Simms again in the gun, would dump off to Meggett, who pounded his way to the 40, where he was blasted out of bounds at the 40, hit by Massey with 1:13 to go.  On 3rd and a long 2, Simms called his own number and powered behind Bob Kratch to the 37 yard line for a first down.  Simms in the gun, with a blitz, and tried to hit Jackson on a crossing pattern, but the ball was just out of reach and incomplete with :45 to go.  Simms back in the gun on 2nd and 10, another blitz, and Simms tried to go to Jackson on an out route, but the WR slipped and fell, so the ball stopped the clock with :41.  3rd and 10, Simms still in the gun, and he would fire a pass over the middle to what would have been an open McCaffrey, but the ball was batted down at the line by Braxton.  On 4th and 10, Reeves had a decision to make.  Does he go for the first down and let Simms throw (which is what Phil wanted to do).  Does he go with David Treadwell, who had hit 2 field goals already, but really didn’t have a strong leg.  Or does he go with Brad Daluiso, his big legged kicker who missed two 50 yard field goals the previous week at Philadelphia.  It didn’t take long for Reeves to make his call.

With no time to warm up, as Treadwell was doing, on came the kickoff specialist.  Reeves would call a timeout to perhaps think it over some more with :37 to go.  Perhaps Reeves felt he was letting his kicker settle down, rather than the ploy to “ice the kicker”.  Whatever his motivation, it worked.  Daluiso pounded a moonshot into a 15 mph wind and got it through the uprights as the Giants exploded off the sidelines to mob their kicker and Lundquist provided yet another great call of an exciting play and the crowd was in an uproar.  All Phoenix could do was walk off the field in disbelief and Joe Bugel would take his hat off in disgust at the Giants grabbed a 19-17 lead.

Still, :32 remained in the game, Daluiso’s kickoff would go to Steve Lofton, who took the ball at the 5 and got it out to the 23 yard line, hit down by Bunch with :27 to go.  The Cardinals, with all 3 timeouts hoped to move the ball into Davis’ range.  They didn’t start out well

Erik Howard was getting a good pass rush all day, this time he again powered through the Cardinals line, chased down a slowed Beuerlein and nabbed him for a sack at the 11 yard line as Phoenix called their first time out with :20 to go.  2nd and long, another screen to Centers over the middle at the 12, but it was well read by the Giants, as Armstead, Miller, and Tate all jumped on him at the 17 yard line, and took him down with :13 to go as the Cardinals called their last timeout.  3rd and 15, Beuerlein back, with a rush at his feet, from Hamilton and then in his face from Miller, uncorked a deep shot down the field to Proehl, but it was knocked down by Armstead all the way back at the 33 yard line with :06 remaining.  4th and 15, the Cardinals needed a prayer

Prayer not answered.  Beuerlein again back, and again had a rush on him, just getting away from LT, and he tried to throw a deep shot down the field.  But with not much arm strength to go with, the ball floated and was easily picked off by Raymond at the 46 yard line.  As Raymond ran around with the ball, the clock struck 0:00 and he was chased down by Beamon, while the Giants sidelines told him to get down.  And that he did, sliding down at the 44 to end the game with a huge 19-17 win and give the Giants a 1 game lead in the NFC East over the heavily favored Dallas Cowboys.

Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits

  • Brad Daluiso’s 54 yard field goal was a career high.  In all, the kickoff specialist turned full time kicker would hit 7 field goals of 50 yards or more.  Interestingly, Daluiso hit these long field goals in 7 different games.  The Giants were 7-0 in those games.
  • Rodney Hampton’s 62 yard catch and run was the longest catch of his career.  His next longest catch?  Also against the Cardinals, which occurred in 1992 and was good for 31 yards, but again was stopped short of a first down.
  • Ed McCaffrey’s TD was his final one in a Giants uniform.  In all, he would catch 7 TDs in his three years with the Giants.  Of course, he made his name in Denver, where he hauled in 46 TDs in 9 years.  However, before everyone kills the Giants for making a horrible personnel decision with McCaffrey, letting him go as they brought in Arthur Marshall from the Broncos (which Dan Reeves later would lament was one of his worst roster decisions in his career).  It was not just the Giants who screwed up, McCaffrey, a Stanford grad, would go to the 49ers in 1994, help them win a Super Bowl, and caught 2 TDs.  The Niners let him go as well before he became a Pro Bowler in Denver.
  • Phil Simms threw for 337 yards in this game.  His only 300+ yard game of the season and the final one of his career.  In all he threw for over 300 yards in a game 21 times across his 15 year career.
  • Mark Jackson had his best game as a Giant in this game.  Catching 7 passes for 113 yards (both season highs) and making that huge 3rd and 18 conversion on the final winning drive.  Jackson was one of the "NJ Broncos" which Pepper Johnson derisively refered to the ex-Denver players that Dan Reeves brought with him in 1993.  A few days after the Giants lost WR Mark Ingram as a free agent to the Miami Dolphins, they signed Jackson to a 3 year, $4.7 million deal.  Jackson was looked at as a possession type receiver who would bring knowledge of the Reeves system to the Giants.  The "home run" hitter was Mike Sherrard, who would sign with the Giants from the 49ers a week later.  Jackson was part of the Broncos' "Three Amigos" receiving group along with Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel, and was best known for being on the receiving end of John Elway's bullet in the end zone for a 5 yard TD to cap off a 98 yard drive that would tie AFC Championship at 20-20 and send the game to OT, which was eventually won by the Broncos and sent them to the Super Bowl.  And a loss to the Giants.  
  • Jackson was first a good fit for the Giants, as a compliment to Sherrard.  The oft-injured Sherrard was blossoming with the Giants and looked to have a breakout season at age 30.  In his first 6 games, he would haul in 24 catches for 433 yards and 2 TDs.  This would put him on pace for a 64 catch, 1100+ yard season.  Unfortunately, Sherrard would injury his hip on a long catch and run against the Eagles and was lost for the year.  That put the onus on Jackson, who was counted on as a #1 receiver (which he never was in his career and really wasn't that kind of talent).  Jackson posted a career high 58 catches in 1993.  His 708 yards was enough to lead Giants team, but hardly an impressive number.  Jackson was best known as a Giant for a penchant for dropping passes, particularly in the big spot, as he did late in the crucial Week 17 OT loss to the Cowboys which cost the Giants the NFC East and home field advantage in the playoffs (along with any realistic shot at one final Super Bowl run).  
  • This was Jackson’s only 100 yard game for the Giants.  His next best effort was 76 yards against the Jets in a brutal 10-6 loss in Week 7 on Halloween.
  • The Giants, neophytes in the salary cap experience, would actually release Jackson after the 1993 season and then bring him back at a reduced contract.  He would only play 2 games for the team in 1994, making 0 catches before he was released.  He would sign on with the Colts, see only sparing time, catching 8 passes for 97 yards and 1 TD.  Jackson would retire after the 1994 season.
  • Keith Crawford, a rookie UDFA WR from the football powerhouse Howard Payne University, made his first career catch, a 6 yarder.  It would be his only catch in a Giants' uniform.  Crawford would be released before the 1994 season and sit out the year.  He would resurface with the Packers in 1995, bounce to the Rams for 2 years, where he would be unexpectedly productive in 1997, posting a 3 catch, 86 yard effort at San Francisco and then a 4 catch, 85 yard game against the Chiefs.  The Cheifs were so impressed that they signed him in the 1998 season (but he never played).  Crawford would go back to the Packers in 1999, and retire after the season.  
  • Erik Howard’s late sack was his first on the season.  Howard lost his starting nose tackle position to Stacy Dillard in 1993, but still was able to respond with 3.5 sacks in part time.  In 1994, the Giants would shift from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and Howard saw more playing time as part of a defensive tackle rotation with Keith Hamilton and Dillard, and he had his most productive season (sack wise), with 6.5 sacks.  He would end up signing with the Jets in 1995 and played for them through the 1996 season, when he would finally retire.  
  • Corey Raymond’s game clinching INT was his 2nd on the season.  His first career INT came one week prior, at Philadelphia in the Giants knock down, drag out 7-3 victory.  Raymond would get one more interception as a member of the Giants, in 1994 in a loss to the Lions.  In 1995, Raymond would move on to play for Detroit and had a very good year, picking off 6 passes and registering 2 sacks.  Raymond wasn’t able to keep up the momentum however, picking off just 1 pass in 1996 and 1997 before retiring from the NFL.  Still not a bad run for an UDFA.
  • Ron Moore was a rookie who would rush for 53 yards in the game and as a 4th round pick out of Pittsburgh State became a very unlikely 1000 yard rusher for Phoenix in 1993, going for 1018 yards, thanks mainly to the injury plagued season from fellow rookie, and #1 pick (and #3 overall) Garrison Hearst.  Hearst would only gain 264 yards in 6 games before being shut down for the year.  In 1994, Hearst was again injured and in the background, playing in parts of 8 games and only gaining 164 yards.  Meanwhile, Moore continued to play well, rushing for 780 yards.  By 1995, as Moore started barking for more money, and Hearst got healthy, the Cardinals traded Moore to the Jets.  Hearst was able to break through with 1070 yards in 1995.  Moore’s career however went backwards.  He would only rush for 122 yards over 2 seasons with the Jets, as Adrian Murrell turned into a tremendous running back for them (rushing for 1249 yards on a 1-15 Rich Kotite stinker).  When Bill Parcells’ took over for the Jets in 1997, Moore would end up on the Rams (buried behind Lawrence Phillips) and then went back to the Cardinals to finish up the season.  By 1998, Moore would go to the Miami Dolphins, and get 12 yards and a TD in Week 16 loss at Atlanta and would retire after the season.
  • Ricky Proehl, a NJ native and part of a family of NY Giants season ticket holders, scored a TD in the game, and it was no accident.  Proehl scored 6 TDs against the Giants as a member of the Cardinals, Rams, and Panthers.  
  • Gary Clark became just the 14th man with 9000 yards receiving in his career.  A milestone to be sure.  But to give an understanding of how much the game has changed.  Only 14 men reached the 9000 yard plateau between 1925 and 1993, almost 70 years worth of football, that was it.  Going into 2015, just over 20 years later, 56 guys have gone over that number, including former Giant Amani Toomer (9,497 yards).  And 2 active players, Vincent Jackson and Greg Jennings, are both less than 1,000 yards away.
  • Butch Rolle was a plan B free agent who made 10 consecutive catches between 1987 - 1991 which were touchdowns as a member of the Buffalo Bills.  However, he started his career in 1986 with 4 catches, no TDs.  His streak finally ended in 1992, as a member of the Cardinals, when he made a catch for 1 yard in a 23-7 loss at Tampa Bay.
  • Joe Bugel was coaching with an ultimatum put over his head by the Cardinals' owner Bill Bidwell.  Bidwell told Bugel that he had to have a winning record in 1993 or he would be fired.  Bugel joined the Cardinals as their head coach in 1990 at age 50 after a long assistant coaching career working his way through the ranks in college, and then in the NFL with the Oilers and really made his name as an offensive coordinator in Washington, and specifically as an offensive line coach where he helped build up the "Hogs", one of the most dominant lines in the NFL, filled with Pro Bowlers.  When Bugel took over the Cardinals in 1990, he was facing an uphill battle in the NFC East.  First of all, the Cardinals had moved to Arizona in 1988, but still played in the NFC East.  So you had a warm weather team, forced to go play games in the Northeast in December, which is never a good thing.  And they found themselves in a division with 3 perennial championship contenders in the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles.  And by 1990, the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys were starting to see the fruits of the rebuilding effort and the Herschel Walker trade, with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith now all on the team.  Needless to say, Bugel has his hands full.  Add in the fact that Bidwell was a notoriously cheap and bad owner, it should be no surprise that Bugel's first 3 years his team finished in last place with a record of 5-11, 4-12, and 4-12.  However, he also happened to be in the same division as the 1990 Super Bowl winner (Giants), 1991 Super Bowl winner (Redskins), and 1992 Super Bowl winner (Cowboys).  Bugel would finish short of his goal, going 7-9.  But the record wasn't a reflection of what he had done.  The Cardinals were 3-8 after this gut wrenching loss to the Giants.  However, in those 8 losses, the Cardinals were within a TD in 6 of them.  Included were this 2 point loss at the Meadowlands and a 5 point loss at Dallas 2 weeks before.  Bugel would actually rally the team after this, winning 4 of their final 5 games.  But Bidwell had made up his mind and fired Bugel after the season.  He decided to go out and get another long time assistant, but this time, a guy who was a head coach previously and had success in the NFC East.  He would hire the former Eagle head coach Buddy Ryan, who was better known for his stint as the defensive coordinator for the 1985 Bears, and for throwing a punch at Kevin Gilbride in Houston when they were the respective coordinators there.  Ryan, in his typical fashion, announced that there was a winner in town.  He promised playoffs.  He promised Super Bowls.  He would go 8-8 in 1994 and 4-12 in 1995 and would be fired and fade away from the NFL, only to see his legacy of over inflated BS filled by his twin sons, Rex and Rob.  Rex had 2 good years with the Jets going to back to back AFC Championship games (coaching the remains of the Eric Mangini roster) before he would fail and end up in Buffalo.  Rob bounced all around from Oakland, Cleveland, Dallas, and then New Orleans.  Only Rex has won a ring, as an assistant on the Ravens in 2000.