Saturday, November 14, 2015

1992 Giants vs Packers

Week 10

The Setup

In professional sports, it is very rare when a player can "go out on his own terms".  It's tough to put a number on it, but it would stand to reason that the vast majority of players who retire do so before they would want to.  Whether it's an injury, or salary, or just a younger/better/cheaper competitor for a roster spot, most players will eventually lose their job and wait for that phonecall which never comes.

Now, when you are talking about a next level player, such as a Pro Bowler and even a Hall of Famer, it gets to be even more dicey.  The best case scenario are the guys who wrap up a Hall of Fame career and go out with a Super Bowl victory.  A few names come to mind who pulled this off, such as John Elway, Jerome Bettis and the Giants' Michael Strahan.

Ultimately, several players, though identified with a single team, end up continuing their careers elsewhere.  When you think of the 1980s San Francisco 49ers who won 4 Super Bowls, you generally think of their Big 3 guys:  Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Jerrry Rice.

Montana would get knocked out of the NFC Championship Game in 1990 on a huge hit by Leonard Marshall, and he would miss the 1991 season due to an elbow injury, opening the door finally for Steve Young to take over.  By 1992, Montana had become the backup and he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, and he would play 2 seasons there, leading them to an AFC Championship game in 1993 and then a Wild Card in 1994 before retiring.

Lott would see his 49er career end after that same 1990 NFC Championship loss to the Giants.  At age 32, the Niners decided that Lott was getting too old and expensive and left him unprotected in Plan B free agency.  That was all the LA Raiders needed to know and Al Davis would sign him to a contract and Lott would respond in 1991 with 8 picks and a Pro Bowl selections as the Raiders would make the Wild Card round, but lose to the Chiefs.  Lott would spend one more year with the Raiders in 1992 and would get signed by the other team who threw too much money at big name, over the hill players..the NY Jets.  Lott would waste away his 2 final seasons with the Jets, miss the playoffs and retire after the 1994 season going 6-10 under Pete Carroll.

Rice meanwhile would prove to be a freak of nature, playing with the Niners up through the 2000 season and at age 38, put up a 75 catch, 805 yard, and 7 TD season.  The Niners felt that they got the best remaining out of him and gave the top WR spot over to Terrell Owens.  Again Al Davis would be enamoured with a big name 49er and signed Rice at age 39, and Rice was amazing, putting up over 1000 yards twice, and in 2002 during their Super Bowl run, Rice would put up 92/1211/7 TDs in a Pro Bowl season at age 40.  Rice would stay in Oakland until 2004, when he would get traded to the Seahawks to be reunited with Mike Holmgren. Rice would attempt one final comeback with the Broncos and another of his former coaches, Mike Shannahan.  When Rice realized he was going to be no better than the 4th WR on the roster, he decided to retire.  Not exactly going out in his prime and holding on just too long.

But a few of the Hall of Fame greats did play their entire career with one team.  Phil Simms was one and he retired after the 1993 season an a Pro Bowl nod, so he went out still at the top of his game until an injury pretty much prevented him from returning for the 1994 season.  But what happens when an all time great has a farewell tour cut short by an injury?

In a different sport, one of the great idiot tests is to ask the simple question:  "Who was the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history?"  If your answer is not, "Mariano Rivera", you are an idiot.  End of story.  Before the 2012 season, Rivera, then 42 years old and still at the top of his game, hinted that it was going to be his final season. One of Rivera's pre-game rituals throughout his legendary career to warm up in pre-game was to shag fly ball in the outfield.  In a lazy early season game in May in Kansas City, Rivera went back by the warning track to catch another fly ball, and he would end up having his knee give out.  As the Yankees team ran out to him in horror, the word would come down that he had a torn ACL, ending his season and put his career in doubt.  Rivera, a proud champion, would not see his career end on a warning track in Kansas City.  He would rehab, and return for the 2013 season, which he said would be his last one, had a farewell tour and was his usual brilliant self, posting 44 saves, a 2.11 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 9 with an ERA+ 256 and an All Star game MVP.

Well, for the Giants, they have their own idiot test candidate, Lawrence Taylor.  When you ask "who was the best LB in NFL history", the answer is "LT".  Maybe I can somewhat accept Dick Butkus as a possible answer, but the reality is that Butkus played on some horrible Bears teams, never making the playoffs in his career and his knees gave out which limited him to a 9 year career.  But he still wasn't as prolific as LT.  By the 1992 season, LT was in his 12th year and was 33 years old.  Playing an all out physical game like he did, and leading the rough life he did off the field would tend to catch up someone, and it did to LT as well.  LT started to show signs of slowing down in 1991, registering only 7 sacks, the first time he had less than 10 sacks in a season since 1983.  And he missed 2 games due to injury, something he rarely did even in playing through pain.  As the 1992 season began, there were whispers about what his plans were after the season.  LT himself told the media at different times that he was 95% and 96% sure he was going to retire.  It wasn't until after the Raider loss in Week 7, when they also lost Phil Simms for the season due to injury, that as LT was walking to his car, he was stopped by a reporter and he confirmed that he was done and was retiring after the season.  However, at the same time, LT vowed he was going to play hard and try to turn around the Giants' fortunes from their 2-4 start and look to go out a winner.  And LT did look to make good on his promise.  The Giants would beat Seattle 23-10 and LT would gather a sack.  In the Giants match up on the road at Washington against the defending Super Bowl champs on a Sunday Night, LT would again rise to the occasion against the team he loved to torment, and with the Giants a 10.5 point underdog, the Giants jumped out to a 21-7 lead to stun the home crowd.  As the Redskins were driving early in the 4th quarter to score a TD, LT came on to sack Mark Rypien and force a fumble, which was recovered by Leonard Marshall.  The Giants would drive down for a FG and put the game away 24-7 as Joe Gibbs could only say "I doubt if I'll outlast Lawrence Taylor.", not believing that he was going to retire.

So the Giants came into this game at 4-4.  The Cowboys had already run away with the division by this point, going 7-1, so their focus was on a Wild Card.  The Giants would be facing an up and coming young team in Green Bay with a 2nd year QB named Brett Favre (his first with the Packers after being acquired from Atlanta) who was teamed with former 49er Offensive Coordinator and Bill Walsh disciple Mike Holmgren, also in his 2nd year as a head coach.  The Giants looked to start to turn around their 1992 season in the second half, behind their rejuvenated defensive captain and Hall of Famer, Lawrence Taylor.  Things would be very different for the Giants by the end of this game.

Game Highlights

Matt Bahr would kick off and send it deep to Corey Harris who took the ball 2 yards deep in his end zone and ran behind his wedge and get dropped at the 15 yard line by Jesse Campbell and Lamar McGriggs.  Young Brett Favre would lead his team out and start with a handoff to Vince Workman running to his right, but was dropped after a 1 yard gain by Pepper Johnson.  2nd and 9, Favre would take a 3 step drop and sling a pass in the flat to TE Jackie Harris at the 16 and he would get spun down at the 19 by McGriggs.  3rd and 6, Favre would drop back and with a rush coming up the middle, would side step it and then take off up the gut, as Pepper Johnson left his area to help cover Workman, and sprint all the way down to the 30, where he slid down ahead of the hit by Reyna Thompson.  1st and 10, Favre would fake the handoff to Workman and as he tried to throw a pass to his left, but Lawrence Taylor who came free jumped up and batted down the throw.  2nd and 10, Favre had time, and tried to scramble up the middle, but this time Pepper was waiting and took him down at the 32.  3rd and 8, LT would come say hello

Coming in on one of his patented stunts that he had run with Leonard Marshall hundreds of times over the years, LT would loop inside, beat the guard Frank Winters, and come in and bash Favre down for a sack at the 27 yard line.   Punter Paul McJulian would come on and send a short knuckleball in the direction of Dave Meggett, and the ball would bounce at the 37, which forced Meggett to retreat and it died at the 32 yard line, good for a 41 yarder with no return.

The Giants offense would be led by Jeff Hostetler at QB, and he would begin with a slow developing handoff up the gut to Rodney Hampton, but was met in the backfield by George Koonce for a 1 yard loss.  2nd and 11, Hoss would drop back and drill a comebacker to Stephen Baker for a first down at the 46 yard line on a diving catch, covered up by Roland Mitchell.  However, and illegal procedure call on Giants wiped it out because Derek Brown forgot to shift up to the line of scrimmage and he got an earful from Ray Handley about it.  So now 2nd and 16, Hoss would drop back again, and had a nice pocket to work with and was able to drill a deep pass over the middle to Ed McCaffrey who caught it at the 41 yard line, broke away from a tackle attempt from Leroy Butler at the 45, and was able to get up to the Packers’ 48 yard line, caught from behind by Koonce but a 27 yard gain and a big first down.  Hoss would fake the handoff to Hampton and would hit Baker at the sidelines for a 12 yard gain out at the 36 and shoved out by Mitchell, but good for another first down.  A pitch to Hampton running to his right, and he was able to turn the corner and was taken down by Chuck Cecil at the 29 yard line as Butler tried to strip the ball away.  2nd and 3, the ball went to Jarrod Bunch and he ran smack into Matt Brock at the line of scrimmage and he bounced backwards and was taken down by Cecil for no gain.  3rd and 3, with Hoss in the gun, got some pressure from Bryce Paup which forced him to his right and he threw a deep pass down the right sidelines in the direction of Dave Meggett, who was well covered by Johnny Holland.  So the Giants were forced to try a field goal and Matt Bahr would come on to barely get a 47 yarder over the crossbar and give the Giants a 3-0 lead with 7:26 to go in the first quarter.

Corey Harris would field Bahr’s kickoff at the 1 and head to his left and accelerate behind his wedge into open field at the 20.  The only man left with an angle on him, and had to fight off a block, was Matt Bahr.  Bahr got noticed back in the 1990 Playoff game against the Bears when he actually suffered a concussion making a tackle on Johnny Bailey.  That exploit got him placed on the All Madden Team.  In this case, Bahr would latch on to Harris at the 30, take the stiff arm and then help drag him to the sidelines where Harris threw Bahr to the ground, but the kicker saved a much longer return with the ball going out to the 35.  So first and 10, and the ball went to Workman on a sweep to the right, and for a moment looked to have room for a very big gain, but Mark Collins would force him back to the middle, where Steve DeOssie was waiting to tackle him at the 39.  2nd and 5, a play fake to Workman and Favre had to scramble away from the near sack by Marshall and flipped the ball to Harry Sydney who had come across the field at the 40, and was able to turn his shoulders and make it out to the 47 yard line, hit hard by Pepper, but good for a first down.  Favre would take a 3 step drop and rifle a bullet into Sterling Sharpe on a slant at the Giants 46 yard line, and Sharpe would get wholloped by DeOssie at the 45 and fall forward to the 43 for a first down.  Favre would drop back again, and another quick pass, tried to hit Sharpe on a streak up the sidelines, which went over his head and was nearly picked by Collins, but fell incomplete.  2nd and 10, Favre would audible and tried a pump and go, but would end up throwing to Sharpe near the sidelines, but he couldn’t keep both feet in bounds at the 40.  3rd and 10, the Giants came on a late blitz up the middle by Pepper, which forced Favre to retreat as no one blocked the linebacker, and he would flip the ball in the direction of Sharpe coming across the middle and the ball would fall incomplete.  McJulien would come back on to punt.

McJulien was looking to pin the Giants inside the 20 with Meggett waiting deep, but he never got the opportunity, as former Patriot Ed McReynolds essentially came in untouched and blocked the punt, which went sideways at about the Packers’ 47 yard line and was grabbed on the bounce by Lewis Tillman.  Tillman would take off up the field and get the ball down to the 31 yard line where he was caught from behind by Koonce.  

Given great field position thanks to the special teams, Hoss would fake to Hampton running to the left and bootleg to the right.  He was able to find Howard Cross, who had come across the field at the 24 yard line, and the big TE got away from Paup, and got blasted down by Cecil at the 19, but good for a first down.  The Giants would give to Hampton, who would delay for a moment running up the middle, and found a crease to take the ball to the 15, hit down by Brock.  2nd and 7, the ball went to Bunch, trying to run to his left, would pick his way out to the 12, wrestled to the ground by Cecil.  3rd and 4, Hoss in the gun with Meggett to this left, but he would never get a chance to get the pass away, as Tony Bennett broke free from Jumbo Elliott and sacked Hostetler back at the 20 yard line.  Bahr’s 38 yarder was right down the middle to make the score 6-0 with 2:11 to go in the first quarter.

Bahr’s kickoff would again go down to Harris at the 1, and he would again follow his wedge to the left, but this time was knocked out of bounds at the 25 by Chris Calloway.  However, a flag for an offsides call on the Giants was declined by Mike Holmgren for some reason (I guess he was ok with starting at the 25?).  Anyway, first down, the Pack would give to Workman on a sprint up the gut and take the ball out to the 31, tripped up finally by LT.  2nd and 4, a fake up the middle to Workman and the ball was given to WR Robert Brooks on an end around to the right, and he had Winters in front to block.  The only man in the area was Collins, who played off the block and made an outstanding open field tackle on Brooks at the 36 by Collins, still good for a first down, but it might have gone for much  more than that.  First down, and Marshall would jump offsides causing everyone to move and flags to fly.  The refs would call Marshall for unabated to the QB and give the Pack 5 free yards.  1st and 5, the ball went to Workman up the gut, where he was mashed by a gaggle of Giants including DeOssie, Pepper, and Eric Dorsey at the 39 yard line on the final play of the first quarter.  2nd and 1, a draw to Workman up the middle, and he would bounce off the attempted tackle by Marshall at the line of scrimmage, keep his feet moving and make it down to midfield, for a 5 yard gain, taken down by Pepper.   First and 10, Favre had a blitz right in his face from Pepper and had to quickly dump it off to Harris at the 46 yard line and he would wrestle with DeOssie and get down to the 43.  2nd and 2, a handoff to Workman around the left end and he was able to turn the corner as LT was pinned in, along with a great block by Sharpe on McGriggs, making it out to the 36, hit out of bounds by Perry Williams, but a 7 yard gain and good for another first down.  Favre back, with LT breaking down on him, with hit Sharpe at the 25, and the big WR would turn his shoulder and drag Williams down to the 22 for yet another first down.  The ball would get pitched to the right to Sydney and he would get to the 19, smacked by Pepper, and Pepper would have to come out of the game as he got dinged on the big hit.  2nd and 7, Favre would fake the handoff and drill an in cut to Sharpe at the 9 yard line, and he would get to the 8 yard line, hit down by Greg Jackson.  However, an illegal shift on Robert Brooks would erase the play and make it 2nd and 12.  Favre would drop back, and essentially run the same play to Sharpe, who caught it at the 16 and fell forward to the 15, covered up by Collins and Jackson.  3rd and 3, Favre would start to scramble up towards the line and slung a pass in to a diving Harris at the 5 yard line, for another huge first down, covered up by Collins.  First and goal at the 5, Workman would take the handoff towards the middle and plowed to the 3, taken down by Erik Howard and Eric Dorsey.  On 2nd and goal, the Packers would cash in

Just as commentator, and former 49er Hall of Fame guard Randy Cross, was saying that he didn’t like the Packers chances at pounding the ball into the end zone through the middle, Mike Holmgren changed it up slightly, with a sprint draw to Workman, who was able to follow a great block up the middle on Howard, easily get past Ed Reynolds and into the end zone.  Chris Jacke’s extra point was good to give the Pack a 7-6 lead with 9:03 remaining in the 2nd quarter.

Jacke’s kickoff was a low line drive that bounced at the 15 and then a high bounce at the 10, where it was taken by Joey Smith, who was only able to navigate back to the 17 yard line, swarmed by several Packers.  An illegal block in the back on Corey Miller would set the Giants back to the 10 yard line.  They would begin with a handoff to Hampton running to his left, but the Packers strung him out and he was tackled for a 1 yard loss by Burnell Dent.  

At this point, Chuck Cecil would make his presence felt.  2nd and 11, Hoss would give to Meggett on a draw and he would get obliterated by Cecil at the 11 yard line.  3rd and 7, Hoss in the gun, with plenty of time, and he would again go to Meggett down the seam, and he would hit him at around the 35 yard line.  Unfortunately for Meggett, he would also get hit by Cecil, and hard, and the ball would pop loose for an incompletion.  Cecil was very lucky to play when he did and not today, as he would be a walking penalty flag.  But not an issue in 1992, so on would come Sean Landeta, who from his own end zone would boom one out to Terrell Buckley at the 38 yard line, and he would get it back to the 46 yard line, stopped by Phillippi Sparks.

First and 10 for Green Bay, Favre would drop back, and sling a quick pass to Syndey over the middle for a 2 yard gain, hit by Banks, but a flag for a hold on James Campen sent the Packers backwards.  1st and 20, Favre would give a wrap around draw play handoff to Workman over the middle, who took it out to the 40, taken down by Howard and Pepper.  The Giants defense would put an end to the Packer momentum one play later

Workman had been having a strong game up to this point, would take the handoff and run to his right on a sweep, as he turned the corner, he would absorb a hit from Pepper, spin off of him, and as he finished his spin, LT came over to knock the ball free.  Erik Howard would come out of a big pile up with the ball at the 41 yard line.

On first down, the Giants would give the ball to Jarrod Bunch running to his right, and looked to have some room, but it closed quickly as Butler and Bennett took him down at the 38 yard line.  Hoss would give to Hampton over the middle, but Butler read it and met him in the backfield for a short gain to the 36 yard line as the crowd booed the conservative call.  Ray Handley would turn those boos to cheers

Wait, what?  The crowd cheering Handley?  Well with Hoss in the gun, he had time to throw and uncorked a deep pass down the right sidelines towards Stephen Baker.  Baker was not the Touchdown Maker on this play, but he did make a good adjustment on a deep pass at the 4 yard line, as Buckley mistimed his jump and hauled it in and fell out of bounds at the 2 yard line for a 33 yard gain and a first and goal.  The Giants would finish it off on the next play, as Hampton took the carry and had an easy path for a touchdown up the gut following the lead block by Jarrod Bunch as he fell into the end zone.  Bahr’s extra point was right down the middle to give the Giants a 13-7 lead with 3:31 remaining in the first half.

Bahr’s kickoff would go to Corey Harris at the 3 yard line, and he would follow his wedge running to his right and would cut back at the 25, where he was met by Derek Brown, Jesse Campbell and Lewis Tillman.  First down, Favre would audible to a quick pass over the middle to Harris at the 30, and the TE would plow through Pepper and Banks before being taken down at the 33.  2nd and 2, again a quick 3 step drop and another quick pass, this time to Workman, who came out of the backfield and made the easy catch at the 33 over the middle and was able to get around Pepper to the 36 yard line for a first down.  Favre would again take another quick drop and tried to hit Harris over the middle, but the ball was batted in the air and fell incomplete as the clock was stopped at 1:58 for the 2 minute warning.  2nd and 10, an inside draw to Workman didn’t fool the Giants, as he was hit at the line of scrimmage by Pepper.  3rd and 10, the Packers would call their first timeout with 1:27 remaining in the 2nd quarter.  With LT coming around the left tackle, Favre was just able to get the ball off to Harris at the 43 yard line, and he turned up the field and got the ball to the 48 yard line, tackled by Reyna Thompson for another big first down.  With the clock running, Favre lined up quickly, but a penalty on the Packers for a false start on Ken Ruettgers set them back 5 yards.  1st and 15, Favre would have plenty of time, but was only able to find a safe pass to Sharpe over the middle at the 45 yard line, where he was met by Collins, Sparks, and Thompson and slung to the ground.  2nd and 13, Favre again with a quick pass over the middle to Harris for a 5 yard gain, taken down by Pepper and Thompson.  Favre would call a time out with :36 to go.  3rd and 8 at the 50, Favre again tried a quick pass over the middle, and he had Brooks open, but he had the ball broken up on a big hit by Sparks.  McJulien on to punt, was able to get off a high kick, that bounced at the 17 yard line, in front of Meggett, and he would get out of the way, as it was downed by Paup at the 12 yard line.  

Hoss would have 3 time outs and :23 remaining.  But rather than mess with anything that deep in their own end, Handley would call for a kneel down to end the first half with the Giants up 13-7.

The 2nd half began with Jacke kicking off deep to Meggett at the 3 yard line, where he initially muffed the ball and got up and was able to recover nicely and made his way  up the field to the 24 yard line, hit down by Carl Carter.  On first down, Hoss faked to Hampton to hold up the linebackers and take a deep shot down the field to Cross, who snagged the ball at the 45 yard line and lumbered to the 49 yard line, taken down from behind by Holland.  Cross actually fumbled the ball, but had it bounce right back into his gut.  The 25 yard gain was good for a first and the Giants went to the air again, this time trying for McCaffrey on a sliding catch, but the ball hit the ground.  2nd and 10, Hampton took the carry up the middle, but had no where to go and was lucky to get a yard in the melee.  3rd and 9, Hoss in the gun would have time initally, but as he scrambled up the field, he was caught from behind by Paup, who just tripped him up or else the mobile QB might have gotten the first down.  4th down would bring out Landeta, who’s punt bounced at the 4 and rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

First down at the 20, the Pack started with a Favre drop back and a quick pass over the middle to Sharpe at the 25, and he would split between LT and DeOssie to get out to the 29 for a nice 9 yard gain.  2nd and 1, Favre would give to Workman and he would go up the middle for 3 yards, tackled by Howard, but good for a first down at the 32.  Favre would drop back and drill a deep in cut to Sharpe at the 42, and he would drag Collins and McGriggs out to the 45 and another first down for a 13 yard gain.  First down, the delay to Workman running to his right looked to set up for a good gain, but Pepper got around a block and with DeOssie, took the running back down at the 49 yard line.  2nd and 6, Favre would try a quick out pass to Harris at the 50, and he was taken down by Thompson at the 47 yard line.  3rd and 2, with 3 TEs, Favre would give to Workman again running to his right, but he was met at the 47 by Dorsey and McGriggs, short of the first down.  

4th and 2, Mike Holmgren would keep his offense on the field, again with 3 TEs, and Favre gave a very hard count which looked like it drew Howard offsides, but the refs called Favre for a head bob (and he moved his lower half too) and a false start.  Though Holmgren didn’t like it, the call was correct, even though Randy Cross didn’t agree (former 49ers stick together).  McJulien on to punt shanked a pop up punt that bounced at the 29 and went backwards and was snagged out of the air at the 30 yard line by the coverage team.  A horrid 22 yard effort.

The Giants would start out with a handoff to Hampton running to his left, but he was met by Robert Brown after just a one yard gain.  2nd and 9, Hoss back and would try to hit Baker on a deep shot, and while he had beaten Roland Mitchell, the ball hung up just enough for Mitchell to come over and bat it away.  3rd and 9, Hoss in the gun, had time as he was setting up for a screen and dumped it off to Meggett at the 25, and with blockers in front, Meggett would scoot his way up the left sidelines, and was knocked out of bounds by Cecil at the 38 yard line, saving a first down.  Landeta on to punt and he would send it to Buckley at the 12 yard line.  Buckley would run to his right and looked to have some room, but the Giants pinned him in and he lost his footing and went down at the 19 yard line, covered up by Jesse Campbell after a 49 yard kick with 6:17 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Favre would start off with a pump fake to his right, which brought up the Giants secondary and allowed Sharpe to get behind the defense and he would haul the ball in at the Giants’ 45 yard line and took it down to the 39 where McGriggs would get him from behind, but a 42 yard gain nonetheless.  If Favre had made a better throw, it would have been a TD.  Favre would give the ball to Workman on a weird wraparound draw play that went up the middle for a 4 yard gain, tackled by Howard and DeOssie.  2nd and 6, Favre again back to pass, and threw a safety valve pass to Sydney at the 36, and he spun away from Banks, but got smacked by Collins at the 33.  3rd and 3, Favre would drop back and with LT coming in on him was able to hit Sharpe at the 24 and what should have been an easy first down was ruined by a dropped pass.  Jacke came on for a 49 yard attempt, but even with the wind at his back, the ball fell well short of the goal posts and kept the score 13-7 with 3:47.

So the Giants get the ball at the 32, and Hoss began with a 3 step drop and a quick pass to Cross in the flat, who caught it at the 34 and fell forward to the 35 yard line, hit down by Butler.  2nd and 7, Hoss back and nearly got the Packers to jump on a hard count, and he would sling a pass in the direction of a diving McCaffrey but the ball bounced off his hands.  3rd and 7, and Hoss went and did something stupid

Sometimes you just need to accept the loss and punt.  In this case, Hoss in the gun would get some pressure from the edge by Paup and step up in the pocket, avoid another Packer, and start to scramble up the field where he was hit by Bennett and started to spin around.  As he was going down, he decides to lateral the ball to Bart Oates at the 34.  Now, granted, of all offensive lineman, at least the center is the one who is used to handling it.  But still, chucking the ball to a 280 pound lineman who isn’t used to carrying the ball is an awful idea.  Oates got hit almost immediately and they were lucky they he didn’t fumble and he went down at the 33.  Former Niner center/guard Randy Cross had a good chuckle at it and on came Landeta to punt.

Well, the Giants went from doing something stupid to getting lucky.  In this case, Landeta’s punt was a line drive to Buckley who set up at the 23 to field it and had room, but he looked up for a second to try to find where the oncoming Reyna Thompson was.  In doing so, he would simply drop the ball and got hit by Thompson which knocked the ball away from the returner.  A huge pile up at the 18, where Corey Miller blew the recovery initially, but it would eventually be recovered by the Giants with 2:10 to go in the 3rd.

So the Giants get the ball in great field position thanks to Buckley’s mistake.  But when you think the Giants are going to be looking good, the keystone kops return

On first down, Hoss did a play action fake to Hampton and dropped back, with some time to throw, but no one open.  As he was pump faking, Bennett barged into the backfield and hit Hoss, jarring the ball loose.  After Bennett and William Roberts both missed the fumble, and Brown was able to recover it on the 19 yard line.  Hostetler tried to say that his arm was moving forward, but with no replay in 1992, the call would stand.  If there was replay, it might well have been given back to the Giants on the now infamous tuck rule.  But the call would stand as is, and it was now Packers’ ball.

So now Favre and the offense take over again and they would give to Workman going up the middle and he was able to cut to his left and gain 2 yards, hit down by Pepper.  On 2nd and 8 would come a play that would haunt Giants fans

Lawrence Taylor’s pain tolerance was legendary.  The Giants and their fans over the years saw LT at various times go out and play with a broken ankle and torn deltoid muscle.  So on this play, when LT would come on his rush from the right side, he reached up with his left hand and batted the pass in the air.  As he tried to plant his leg and lunge at the ball in the air, trying to make an INT, his right leg would give out and he would roll over in pain.  The crowd was hushed as the Giants team doctors came out to cut off the sock to take a better look, which is never a good sign.  The moment you see the doctor feel up by his calf, you knew it was an achillies.  Giants fans had never before seen LT go down in this much pain, not even when he broke his ankle against the 49ers.  As the cart came on the field, that finally got Ray Handley to go out there to check on him.  LT’s long time teammates Banks and Howard helped put him on the cart as players from Green Bay came over to check on him as well.  The crowd would chant LT’s name as LT had his hands over his head as the cart took him into the locker room.

So the Giants would come out on 3rd and 8, with Kanavis McGhee replacing LT, and Favre would hit Sharpe going over the middle at the 21 and would be shoved out of bounds by Pepper at the 28, a 7 yard gain but not enough for a first down.  That would force McJulien to come out and send poor kick towards Meggett, who got out of the way and it rolled down to the 29.  Meanwhile, McJulien went down in a heap after the kick and had to be helped off the field with :22 to go in the 3rd.  

On first down, the Giants would give to Hampton running to his right and found a hole and followed a block by Bunch to get into the secondary and all the way out to the 41, however a hold on Doug Riesenberg (who created the hole), set the Giants back to 1st and 20 on the final play of the 3rd quarter.    At the 19 now to start the 4th, a delay to Hampton running to his left, would get to the 22, taken down by Brock.  2nd and 17, Hoss back again, and with pocket collapsing, would rifle a pass in to Baker over the middle at the 35, but with Cecil and Butler coming over, the little WR would alligator arm the pass and it would drop.  Behind the play, Brock would be injured ramming his head into Jumbo Elliott’s back as he was going after Hostetler.  3rd and 17, Hoss in the gun and with only a 3 man rush was unable to find an open receiver deep, so the ball was dumped to Meggett in the flat at the 19, and he would pick his way to the 26, tripped up by Koonce.  That would again bring on Landeta to punt and he would get off a rocket that soared over Buckley’s head and bounced at the 12, and it would roll down to the 3 yard line for a 71 yard punt with 12:55 to go.

So with field position suddenly flipped, the Pack had to huddle up in their end zone, the Giants were feeling like they had them where they wanted them.

So much for that, Favre took the snap and a 3 step drop and pump faked, and with DeOssie coming in on him, was able to float a deep shot towards Sharpe who had beaten Collins and hauled it in at the 34 and kept his feet moving all the way down to the 45 as Greg Jackson was late coming over to help on what was a 42 yard gain.  First down, Favre pack, flipped a pass to Workman out in the flat and he was hit down by Jackson for a very short gain.  2nd and a long 9 and Favre’s pass out towards Harris was batted down by Corey Miller at the line of scrimmage.  3rd and 9, Favre was back, with Mike Fox pushing the pocket into his face, hit Sharpe on a crossing route over the middle at the 47, but he was chased down by Jackson and Thompson at the 46 and shoved out of bounds.  McJulien, punting with tendonitis and into the wind, had worries about being able to solidly hit the ball.  Well, that was the least of the Pack’s worries

Rough day for the Green Bay special teams.  In this case the long snap back to McJulien was a bad one which was short hopped to him and he was unable to cleanly field it and had the ball bounce behind him.  McJulien would run to his right, avoid Lewis Tillman, but would have the menacing figure of Chris Calloway in his face and he would try to throw the ball in the direction of Jackie Harris or Harry Sydney, who were open.  But being a punter, the ball would flutter towards George Koonce, wearing an ineligible number (#53) and he would bat it down, drawing a penalty on top of all this mess.  The penalty was loss of down, but ultimately meant nothing but the Giants got the ball at the line of scrimmage which was the 46 yard line.

The Giants, again given a gift from the Packers, gave the ball to Hampton, running off right tackle for just a 1 yard gain, taken down by Bennett and Holland as the crowd began booing again.  2nd and 9, Hoss was back and threw a pass in to Baker at the 35 yard line, where Buckley went through Baker to knock the ball down.  Of course, that’s illegal, so out came the flag for pass interference and the Giants got a first down.  Hoss would fake to Hampton, roll to his right and flip the ball to Bunch, who bounced off a hit by Buckley at the 31 and lumbered down to the 27 yard line and into Holland for an 8 yard gain.  2nd and 2, Bunch again got the ball and he cut back over the middle to the 21 yard line and a first down, however another hold on the Giants, this time on Oates set the Giants back to a 2nd and 12.  With Derek Brown in motion, Hoss back would throw into traffic towards Baker over the middle and it was knocked away by Butler.  3rd and 12, Hoss again in the gun, had plenty of time to throw, holding the ball for a good 4 or 5 seconds, rolled to his left and would finally get tracked down by Bennett and Koonce at the 42 yard line, and out of field goal range on a textbook coverage sack.  The frustrated crowd booed again and Landeta came on to accept the delay of game to give him a better angle for the coffin corner.  And when he kicked it, he nearly pulled it off, as it bounced at the 11, rolled forward and was batted back by Thompson at the 1 yard line, but the ball took a weird hop backwards and just on the goal line for a touchback with 8:20 to go in the game.

Down just 6 points, the Pack started with a swing pass to Sydney at the 17 yard line but he took his eyes off the ball and dropped it.  2nd and 10, Favre again back, with time and he would scramble up towards the line and threw a bad pass over the middle in the direction of Harris, but the ball took off and was nearly picked off by Jackson, but he focused on hitting the tight end.  3rd and 10, with the Giants coming on a 4 man rush, the ball was deflected at the line by Pepper, but Favre’s strong arm allowed it to maintain enough velocity to make it to Sharpe, who came back to the 32 and dove and caught it for a first down, despite having Collins all over him, and claiming it was trapped.  First down, Farve again with the wraparound draw handoff to Workman, and this time he cut to his left and away from Leonard Marshall, and found a lane out to the 37 yard line, giving Jackson a little ride along the way.  2nd and 5, Favre back, and he took a shot from Pepper on a delayed blitz, and was able to get the ball to Sydney in the flat at the 38 yard line, where he made a move around Banks and took it to the 45 yard line, hit down by Jackson and Howard.  First down, play fake to Workman and Favre with a simple bootleg to his right and short pass to Sydney at the 46, and the running back was able to get all the way out to the Giants’ 46 yard line, taking Thompson for a ride and a 9 yard gain.  2nd and 1 and the clock running, the ball went to Workman over the middle for a 3 yard gain, taken down by Keith Hamilton.  As the Packers were executing the Mike Holmgren version of the West Coast offense to perfection, we got another zany moment.

This pretty much had it all in summing up this game, with both teams trying to give the game to the other.  In this case, Favre took a five step drop and tried a pump fake to get the defense to over commit.  But he would follow it up by trying to force the pass in to Workman coming across the middle.  However Pepper would stay in his lane and pick it off at the 42 yard line.  From there Pepper did his best 3 Stooges impersonation, chugging up the field, spinning around, getting off of Workman, reversing his field with the Packers offensive line in front of him around mid field.  And coming from the side, the ball was knocked out by Favre and it was recovered by Sanjay Beach at the Packers’ 47.  Uggghhhh..

So, the Pack gets a first down and loses some yardage, and Favre would try to hit Sharpe on an in cut but threw behind him for an incompletion.  2nd and 10, with 3 WRs, Favre would drop back and with time to throw would go deep over the middle to Harris, who hauled it in at the 35 yard line and got destroyed by Jackson on a hit that took him off his feet, but he held on to the ball.  In today’s NFL, that would probably draw a penalty on the 21 yard gain as it was helmet to helmet.  The Packers would call a time out with 3:53 to go.  Now down at the 34 yard line, Favre would sling a quick pass over the middle towards Harris, but this time the ball was a little low and he dropped it.  On 2nd and 10, the Giants would finally make a turnover stick

Not one moment after color commentator Randy Cross said the Giants were one big play from trailing in the ball game, did Favre take a 5 step drop and with pressure coming up the middle from Banks and Miller, he was falling backwards and didn’t get enough on the pass on an out pattern toward Harris.  As the ball floated just enough, Reyna Thompson cut in front of the pass and picked it off at the 31 yard line.  The only man who could stop him was Favre, who got an angle and ran him down at the 35, but Thompson cut inside him, and pushed him off, and with no one else in front, the special teams ace was able to race the rest of the way in for a huge pick 6.  Bahr’s extra point made the score 20-7 with 3:38 to go in the game.

Bahr’s kickoff would be fielded by Corey Harris at the 3, and he would pick his way up to the 21 yard line, taken down by Campbell.  First down, Favre took a shot down the seam to Harris, who caught it at the 32 yard line and was able to get to the 38, taken down by Sparks.  First down, Favre back and dumped to Workman at the 38 and was taken down by Sparks for no gain.  On 2nd down the Packers went to the well one time too many.

Again, another deep shot down the middle to Harris, and this time however the ball sailed just a tad from Favre and Jackson was able to leap up and snag it at the 36 yard line.  Jackson would get up and run with it, cutting back to his right and got all the way to the Packers’ 28 yard line before Ron Hallstrom took him down, but it was Favre’s 3rd INT of the quarter.

Hampton took the first down carry up the gut for a 4 yard gain, taken down by Paup which took the clock down to the 2 minute warning.  Hampton would take the 2nd down carry and run to his right, and was strung out by the Packers’ defense and was taken down at the 26 yard line for a loss.  Green Bay would call their 2nd timeout with 1:48 to go.  3rd and 9, Hampton took the carry to the right side and powered forward to the 20 yard line where he was hit down by Koonce and Cecil and took their final timeout with 1:40 to go.  On 4th and 3, rather than go for a field goal, the Giants went for it on 4th and 3, and Hampton took the carry running to his left, found the edge and was essentially horse collared by Cecil at the 9 yard line, fortunately not injuring his ankle but he went out of bounds with 1:33 to go.  You would think that the Giants would just take a knee to end the game and then something interesting happened.

On first and goal at the 7, Hoss took his knee and you would think that would be it, but the Packers fired off the line and got in a scuffle after the play with Holland leading the way.  So if that was how it was going to be, then screw them, so the Giants decided to run a play, and they would give the ball to Hampton, let him run to the right side, where Hampton got around a tackle attempt from Paup, turned the corner and stiff armed a Packers to go into the end zone for his 2nd TD of the game.  With both teams knowing what that was all about, it was no shock that there was a big fight in the end zone as the Packers frustration spilled over.  After a lengthy discussion among the officials, the decision was to call offsetting penalties and kick out Oates and Holland.  Bahr came on to put the extra point through and make the score 27-7 with :49 to go in the game.

Bahr’s kickoff went down to Harris at the 11 and he ran it behind his blockers out to the 25 yard line, hit down by Stacy Dillard.  First down with :44 to go, Favre dropped back, and heaved a deep shot to Workman out at the 30, but the ball was knocked down by Collins.  2nd and 10, Favre gave to Workman up the gut and he took it down to the 33 yard line, hit down by Thompson.  The Pack decided that was enough, let the clock run and the teams came out on the field to shake hands after a 27-7 Giants victory.

Post Mortem/ Interesting Tidbits
  • After getting to 5-4 thanks to this win, the wheels came off for the Giants.  Losing their heart and soul on defense in LT, their starter in Simms, and Hostetler’s struggles proved too much for the Giants.  They would lose at Denver the next week and the season would unravel soon after that.  They would blow a 20-6 lead against the Eagles, a game which featured typical Eagle craziness (Seth Joyner pick six, a Ken Rose blocked punt return for a TD, and an 87 yard Via Sikahema TD that ended with him punching the Giants goal post pad like a boxer) set the tone in a 47-34 horror show.  Three more losses followed with rookie Kent Graham at QB, embarrassing blowouts on the road to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and a shutout at Arizona put the Giants at 5-9 and signaled the end of Handley.
  • The Giants “offense” generated only 177 total yards, but that number was deceiving because they got 5 turnovers from the Packers and several short fields thanks to bad special teams play.
  • Hampton had a ho-hum day generally, 15 carries for 44 yards, but did score 2 TDs.  In 1992, Hampton would score multiple TDs in 4 games, with a season high 3 in the Giants stunning throttling of the playoff bound Chiefs in Week 15, Handley’s final victory as a head coach.
  • Hampton’s career high in TDs in a game?  4.  In a 45-29 trouncing of the Saints in 1995.  He would rush 33 times for 149 yards and those 4 scores.
  • Pepper Johnson’s pick was his first of 1992 and he would get one more in the Giants win over KC.  With Handley out and Reeves in for 1993, Pepper would be released to start the next season, so in all he picked off 8 passes in the regular season and 1 in the playoffs against the 49ers in 1986.
  • Reyna Thompson, widely regarded as the Giants best special teams cover man in the team’s history, had a couple of firsts in this game.  His first career interception and TD.  He would intercept only one more pass in his Giants career, in their brutal 30-3 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving.
  • Thompson would leave the Giants after the 1992 season and rejoin Bill Parcells with the Patriots.  He would pick off one final pass, this time against Jim Kelly and the Bills in a 38-14 blowout loss at Buffalo.
  • Matt Bahr 47 yarder longest final field goal of his Giants’ career.
  • Hostetler had a very lackluster game, going 9-16, 133 yards, 0 Tds and 0 Ints.  Hostetler won a controversial QB duel in 1991 with Simms, as Handley decided to put his own stamp on the team and start Hoss.  Hostetler would start the first 12 games of 1991, until he was lost for the season due to broken bones in his back at Tampa Bay and Simms came off the bench to lead the Giants to a comeback win.  In 1992, another QB competition, and this time Simms would win out and re-take the starting spot from Hostetler.  However, in a 13-10 loss to the Raiders in Week 4, Simms would hurt his elbow on a hit from DE Anthony Smith.  The injury resulted in bone chips in his elbow and surgery, which would put Simms on IR and knock him out for the year.  Hostetler would start in Week 5 against the Cardinals and win the game 31-21 and start 9 games.  In those 9 games, Hoss would complete fewer than 10 passes four times.  He also would complete only 10 passes vs KC and 11 passes at Philly (to be fair he was injured and replaced by Kent Graham).
  • Kent Graham started the other 3 games, and in those games he completed 12 passes vs. Dallas, 8 passes vs. Washington, and 7 passes in a shutout loss to the Cardinals.
  • So in a 16 game season, the 1992 Giants would complete 12 or fewer passes from their starting QBs, 9 times in a game.  And you wonder why Handley was run out of town.
  • Greg Jackson's 36 yard return of an interception was the longest of his Giants' career.  It would be 1 yard better than his next longest, which would occur one week later in Denver.  The longest return of his career would come in 1994, as a member of the Eagles, when he picked off a Gus Frerotte pass and took it back 55 yards for a TD in a 31-29 Eagles victory in Philly.
  • Sean Landeta had a great day for the Giants, punting 6 times and averaging 50.50 yards per punt.  For the strong legged punter, he would average at least 50 yards per punt in a game 22 times.  His career best would come in 1986, when in the Giants victory in Minnesota, he averaged a whopping 57.5 yards (though in just 2 punts).
  • Landeta’s 71 yard punt tied for the longest of his career with the Giants, matching a 71 yarder he hit in 1989.  However, it wasn’t his career long.  He actually would boom a 72 yarder in 1998 as a member of the Packers.  And his career best was a 74 yarder in 1997 while he was in Tampa Bay.
  • Compared to other Giants punters in the recent past, and their best 1 game average punt performance:
    • Dave Jennings- 4 punts/ 55.25 yards in a 17-14 win vs the Oilers in 1980
    • Mike Horan- 6 punts/ 49.17 yards in a 27-22 loss at New Orleans in 1994.
    • Brad Maynard- 5 punts/ 55.40 yards in a 28-14 loss at Tennessee in 2000.
    • Matt Allen- 5 punts/ 43.00 yards in a 21-17 win at Dallas in 2002 (he was awful)
    • Jeff Feagles- 2 punts/ 51.50 yards in a 20-7 loss against the Redskins in 2003
    • Matt Dodge- 3 punts/ 55.00 yards in a 41-35 win at Dallas in 2010
    • Steve Weatherford- 3 punts/ 57.67 yards in a 30-20 win against the Falcons in 2014.
  • Brett Favre would start his first game of his career against the Giants in this game.  Robbed from the Atlanta Falcons in a trade before the 1992 season, Favre would take over as the Packers’ QB in 1992 and would hold the job down until 2007.  One interesting factoid about this game, Favre threw 3 picks.  It was his first multiple INT game as a Packer QB and the first time he threw 3 picks in a game.  His first multiple INT game actually came in 1991, when he game into garbage time of a 56-17 loss at Washington and went 0-4 with 2 picks.
  • Favre would throw 3 or more picks in a game 39 times, with a career high 5 in a 21-14 loss at Cincinnati in 2005.  
  • In the regular season, Favre generally had his way with the Giants, posting a 5-2 record.  In his final game against the Giants, as the Vikings’ QB in 2009, he went 25-31, for 316 yards and 4 TDs with 0 INTs against an overmatched Bill Sheridan defense in a 44-7 romp.
  • Of course, Favre’s final game as Packers’ QB came in the NFC Championship game vs. the Giants in the freezing cold weather.  Favre would look all of his 38 years old in the -23 degree wind chill.  And he would throw the backbreaking INT in overtime to Corey Webster that set up Lawrence Tynes’ 47 yard game winning/Super Bowl sending field goal.  Needless to say, he would throw 2 INTs in that game.  So his first multiple INT game as a Packer was against the Giants, and his final multiple INT game was against the Giants.
  • Favre actually would cross paths with the Giants again in 2008.  The Packers decided to go with Aaron Rodgers as their starting QB and would trade Favre to the Jets before the start of the pre-season.  Favre would get in some action in the 2nd preseason game against the Redskins, but would get the start in the 3rd pre-season game against the Giants.  Favre would play the first half and would be at QB when Osi Umenyoria attempted a pass rush around D’Brickashaw Ferguson and would tear his miniscus in his knee, causing him to miss the entire 2008 season.
  • Tony Bennett, of course not to be confused with the crooner, had a career game, registering 3.5 sacks.  Bennett, a tweener DE/LB and pass rusher was an under appreciated defensive player in the early 1990s.  He would collect 13 sacks in 1991 and followed that up with 13.5 in 1992.
  • Terrell Buckley was a rookie in 1992 and returned 3 punts against the Giants but didn’t do much of note.  Buckley would end up playing 14 years, making his name mostly in Miami where he signed as a free agent and would spend time with Broncos, Patriots, and Jets.  The Giants, desperate for help in the secondary due to injuries, signed the 34 year old Buckley late in the season to add a veteran presence and hopefully his experience would help out on the football field.  Unfortunately, Buckley was pretty much done when the Giants got him, and they would try to futility match him up against Steve Smith of the Panthers in the playoffs and he got burned, to the tune of 10 catches for 84 yards and a TD in Carolina’s 23-0 wipe out of the Giants at Giants Stadium.
  • Sterling Sharpe had 11 catches for 160 yards.  The 11 catches were a career high.  The 160 yards were the 3rd best output of his career, behind 169 yards @ Tampa Bay in 1989 and 164 yards @ the Rams, also in 1989.  Sharpe only played 7 years in the NFL, but in his time, was one of the best WRs in the entire league, but was overshadowed by the likes of Jerry Rice.  But in looking at some of his numbers when he played, particularly in the poor weather of Green Bay it was impressive.
    • 1989- 90 catches (best in NFL), 1423 yards, 10 TDs
    • 1992- 108 catches, 1461 yards, 13 TDs (triple crown, led the NFL in all categories)
    • 1993- 112 catches (best in NFL), 1274 yards, 11 TDs
    • 1994- 94 catches, 1119 yards, 18 TDs (best in the NFL)
  • Sharpe would only get into the playoffs one time in his career, and did he make it count.  In 1993, the Packers would take on the Lions in Detroit in the Wild Card round.  Sharpe would go nuts, catching 5 passes for 101 yards, and 3 TDs, including the go ahead 40 yard TD to win the game 28-24.  The next week, going into Dallas, he would put up 6 catches, for 128 yards and a TD. 
  • After the 1994 season, it came to light that Sharpe had a neck injury and was forced to retire at age 29.  A five time Pro Bowler and 3 Time All Pro, Sharpe would have absolutely been a Hall of Famer if not for his injury.
  • And Lawrence Taylor, like Mariano Rivera, with too much pride to end his career getting carted off the field, rehabbed from his torn achillies, and would come back for a final season in 1993, helped lead the team to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card win over the Vikings in his last game at Giants' Stadium until it all came crashing down in San Francisco the next week, a game which saw the end of both LT and Phil Simms as NYG.

1 comment:

  1. In your description you said 1992 was Mike Holmgren's 2nd year as a head coach. 1992 was Mike Holmgren's debut season as a head coach.