Thursday, February 18, 2016

1990 Giants @ Rams

Week 10

The Setup

The game of football is many things.  It teaches life lessons: teamwork, overcoming adversity, dealing with bad luck and or falling into good luck, the joys of winning, the agony of losing, etc.  There is another aspect to life that football also allows you to experience, and it's much more visceral.  Revenge and catharsis, and an opportunity to just beat the hell out of a rival (figuratively, and in the case of football, literally).

The Parcells era Giants had several rivals.  The Redskins under Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl during Parcells' tenure with the Giants and met up with them in the NFC Championship.  The 49ers were considered the team of the 1980s, winning 4 Super Bowls.  They would knock the Giants out of the playoffs twice.  Of course, Bill Parcells would send the Niners home in 1985, 1986, and in the NFC Championship in 1990.

But when it came to teams who just gave the Giants fits and had trouble beating, there were 2 that immediately come to mind.  The Eagles and the Rams.  They were two completely different styles though.  The Buddy Ryan Eagles were infuriating because they would win in so many different and unorthodox ways.  Their defense would force turnovers and score TDs.  Their offense would make big plays on broken plays, such as the 1988 TD when Randall Cunningham bounced off a would be Carl Banks sack, stay on his feet by literally holding himself up with the football (and not fumbling), and throw a TD.  And of course, LT blocking a field goal in OT in 1988, only to see DE Clyde Simmons run it in for a TD.  Oh...and they were dirty too.  For anyone who thinks the Ryan brothers are loud mouths, look no further than their father to see where they got it from.  And he was on full display during "Buddyball" in Philly.  And worst of all, they beat the Giants.  Buddy joined the Eagles in 1986 and lost his first 4 games to the Giants.  After that, he would finish 5-1 against the Parcells Giants.  

Not nearly as antagonistic, but no less effective were the John Robinson led Rams.  Robinson, a childhood friend of John Madden, took over the Rams in 1983 after spending the majority of his career as a college coach.  His only NFL experience came in 1975, when he was a running back coach under Madden with the Oakland Raiders.  Robinson made a name for himself as the head man at USC, going 104-35-4 from 1976-1982, winning 3 Rose Bowls.  Robinson would stay in Los Angeles and move over to the NFL, taking over as the LA Rams head coach.  Interestingly, Robinson's first career game in 1983 matched him up at Giants Stadium against another man head coaching his first NFL game, Bill Parcells.  The Rams, behind 91 yards rushing from rookie RB Eric Dickerson, would beat the Giants 16-6 in a turnover filled mess of a game, featuring 10 turnovers (5 by each team) and 15 penalties.  Parcells' Giants, with Scott Brunner at QB looked every bit the 3-12-1 team they would finish at in 1983.  Robinson meanwhile, would have much better luck, turning the Rams into a winning team, going 9-7, making the playoffs and beating the Cowboys in Dallas in the Wild Card round 24-17 before getting destroyed in Washington 51-7 in the 2nd round.  

So Robinson got the Rams back on track in 1983, and he would turn them into winners, making the playoffs every season from 1983-1989, with the exception of the 1987 strike season.  They made the NFC Championship game twice.  And Robinson oversaw the Rams transition from a power running team behind Dickerson, to a switch of offensive coordinators with Ernie Zampese that featured more of a passing attack, after the Dickerson trade and giving the ball to Jim Everett to throw it down the field.  

Parcells would be 1 season behind the Rams in his turnaround with the Giants, getting them into the playoffs in 1984.  The Giants would visit LA twice in 1984.  The first time was a special teams trainwreck, including allowing 3 safties, in a 33-12 loss.  The Giants would avenge that loss in the Wild Card round, beating the Rams 16-13 and giving Parcells his first playoff win.  The Giants would keep their momentum in 1985, as they overcame a 16-7 defecit and beat the 8-1 Rams 24-19 at Giants Stadium.  That would even the Parcells vs. Robinson head to head matchups at 2-2.  But that was during the Dickerson era, when the Rams looked to pound the ball behind their big offensive line, and played right into the Giants' hands defensively as their strength was taking on running teams with their big DL and LBs.  

Dickerson would be traded to the Colts in 1987 and that signaled a change in the Rams philosophy.  Zampese was the offensive coordinator during the Air Coryell days in San Diego, when Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts was putting up huge passing numbers that featured the downfield passing game.  Zampese would work with Everett and take advantage of his big arm.  He also had a number of offensive weapons to work with as well.  Big play WRs in Henry Ellard, Aaron Cox, and Willie "Flipper" Anderson.  Good hands TE in Pete Holohan.  And a group of good running backs like Greg Bell and Robert Delpino.  The Giants would get their first look at this new offense in 1988 at Giants Stadium, and in Week 4, the Rams would light up Parcells and Belichick's defense, to the tune of a 45-31 beating.  The 45 points would be the most scored against the Giants during the Parcells/Belichick tenure.  

If only to add insult to injury, in 1988, as the Giants season imploded with a late loss to the Jets in the season finale, and the Eagles win vs Dallas to give Philly the NFC East.  The Giants needed the 49ers to beat the Rams in San Francisco to give the Giants a wild card.  The Niners would take a 3-0 lead early, pull their starters and get rolled 38-16 in a game in which Phil Simms said the Niners "laid down like dogs".  Because of the Week 4 victory earlier in the season, the Giants and Rams both finished 10-6, but the Rams got the tie breaker, earned a Wild Card slot and were bounced in the first game at Minnesota 28-17.

In 1989, the Giants would start out hot, going 8-1 and had the best record in the NFL.  That would set up a showdown in LA against the Rams.  With Phil Simms returning at QB after missing a start due to an injury suffered in a Monday win against the Vikings two weeks before, the Giants looked to be ready for the 5-4 Rams, who had just lost the previous week to that same Vikings team in OT, thanks to a safety when LB Mike Merriweather blocked a punt out of the end zone (the first OT game to end in a safety).  The Rams jumped all over Giants, going up 10-0 in the first quarter and 24-3 at the half.  They would roll up 28 first downs, rush for 150 yards, and Everett would throw for 295 yards and 2 TDs.  The final score was 31-10, thanks to a window dressing OJ Anderson TD in the 4th quarter.  

The Giants would recover from this beatdown, rally to a 12-4 record and take the NFC East title away from the Eagles thanks to a late 3 game winning streak and the Eagles slipping up in a loss to the Saints in New Orleans on a Monday Night.  Meanwhile the Rams would finish 11-5 and enter the playoffs as the #5 seed as a Wild Card on the road in Philly.  The fair weather Rams would go into 34 degree Philadelphia and hand the Eagles a stunning 21-7 hammering, thanks to 127 yards from Greg Bell.  That would set up a rematch with the Giants at Giants Stadium for the 2nd round of the playoffs.

The Rams were in the Giants' heads by this point.  LT, dominant against everyone else, was chided by Parcells to go fly to New Orleans to switch jerseys with LB Pat Swilling, who was able to beat tackle Irv Pankey for several sacks.  The Giants defense and fans were ready, especially LT for the Rams.  And early on in the game, it looked good for the Giants.  LT got 2 early sacks, including a sack/fumble early in the game on Everett inside the 10 yard line to stop a scoring drive.  Everett was under pressure the entire half.  The Giants moved the ball with OJ, but only had a 6-0 lead late in the first half.  But a late Simms INT by Michael Stewart set up a Rams TD to Flipper Anderson and a 7-6 LA lead at the half, which the Giants had dominated.  In the second half, it was a back and forth game, with the Giants going up 13-7 on a powering OJ Anderson TD.  Two Mike Lansford field goals sent the game to OT.  The Rams captain Jackie Slater would win the coin toss and take the ball.  The Rams wouldn't give it up as Anderson streaked past Mark Collins, who was playing with a broken bone in his foot, for a game winning OT 30 yard TD as he ran into the tunnel and the Giants season was over.

Now the Giants were heading into 1990 with revenge on their minds.  The Rams loss gave them a purpose and they were not messing around.  They went undefeated in the pre-season.  They would meet up with the Rams, again in LA, in week 10 with the Giants sporting an 8-0 record.  They were at their best.  Meanwhile, on the other side, something was off with the Rams.  A team which went to the NFC Championship Game to take on the 49ers the year before, and was considered to be a contender at the start of the season, but something was wrong.  They started their season with a loss at Green Bay and went on to a shocking 3-5 start their season.  With the 49ers similarly jumping out to a 8-0 record, the NFC West was long gone as an option.  But looking deeper at the Rams, you could see the problems.  Their offensive line, so long a strength on the team with a bunch of Pro Bowlers, showed signs of age and decay.  Doug Smith was 34.  Jackie Slater was 36.  Irv Pankey was 32.  That would impact the Rams ability to control the line of scrimmage and give Everett the time he needed to execute the offense.  But the biggest factor in the Rams collapse was their defense.  Perhaps it was the laid back LA image or that they were known for offense or a big star like Dickerson, but one of the most underrated units in the 1980s was the Rams defense.  They were perhaps a notch below the Giants, Bears, Redskins, and 49ers, but not too far.  However, the wheels came off in 1990 and it showed in points scored.  Going into the Giants game alone, they allowed 36 to the Packers, 27 at home to the Eagles, 34 to the Bengals, 38 to Chicago, 24 to Atlanta, and 41! on the road against the Bubby Brister led Steelers.  Though the Rams found a way to beat Houston the week before, they came up against a Giants team on a roll, who owed their team a beating, and the Rams had a shaky offensive line and a bad defense.  As a fan, there are times you go into a game and think your team should beat the hell out of another team.  And when it’s been a team that has frustrated you over the years, you hold out hope that you can see them finally whack them around.  Many times it doesn’t work out that way.  In this instance, on a hot day in November in Los Angeles, Giants fans got what they wanted.

Game Highlights

Giants would kickoff with Matt Bahr with the heat reaching over 100 degrees on the field.  Bahr’s kickoff was a line drive that bounced at the 6 yard line and fielded by Gaston Green at the 2 yard line.  Green would run it up the right side and follow his wedge until he was cut down by David Whitmore at the 29.  The Rams offense would take the field and begin with a handoff to Cleveland Gary up the gut, taken down by Eric Dorsey at the 35 for a good 6 yard gain.  2nd and 4, Jim Everett went back to throw, given a good pocket and tried to hit Henry Ellard deep down the middle, but the ball sailed a tad and Ellard alligator armed it with Greg Jackson roaming over ready to deliver a big hit.  3rd and 4, Everett would take a 5 step drop and fire a pass out to the right and found Aaron Cox at the 40 and he would take it to the 41, hit down by Mark Collins and Reyna Thompson.  First down, the handoff to Gary running to his left, and he found enough of a hole to get to the 47, taken down by Gary Reasons.  2nd and 4, Gary took a draw going to his right and just got across the 50 yard line, but was caught from behind by Lawrence Taylor on his patented play of coming down the line to stop him short of a first down just as he was going to rip off a big gain.  3rd and 1, as they handed off to Buford McGee for a would be first down, a false start called on Duval Love would kill the play.  Now 3rd and 6, Everett back and he would have a blitz coming off the edge from Jackson forced a weak throw towards Cox on the left sidelines and it fell incomplete.  Keith English on to punt and he would send a high punt to Dave Meggett at the 14 yard line.  Meggett would field it and immediately accelerate up the middle and to the 30 yard line for a 16 yard return, tackled by Mike Stams.  

The Giants offense would trot out on the field and Phil Simms would step back and tried to hit Stephen Baker on a comeback route, but the ball sailed over his head and into the sidelines.  2nd and 10, Simms would give to Rodney Hampton running to his left and was only able to get about 3 yards, taken down by Larry Kelm.  3rd and 7, with Simms in the shotgun, the Giants would go to a guy no one had heard of

Simms would have plenty of time to set up and throw a frozen rope to a rookie WR named Troy Kyles, just activated off the practice squad, who was coming across the middle on a crossing pattern.  Kyles would catch the ball in stride at the 40 and turn it up the field and all the way to the Rams’ 33 yard line for a 34 yard gain.  So after the big gain and first down, the ball went back to Hampton, who ran to his right and just turned the corner and was taken down at the 30 by Michael Stewart.  2nd and 8, the Giants would set up a screen to the left side to Hampton, who hauled the ball in at the 31, followed a nice block by William Roberts on Mike Wilcher (who was pretty clearly knocked unconscious on the hit by the Pro Bowl guard), but was tripped up and fell forward to the 27.  3rd and 5, Simms again in the gun and had some time to throw and tried to hit Lionel Manuel on an out pattern, but the ball sailed over his head an incomplete.  On would come Matt Bahr from 44 yards out and he would bury it down the middle to give the Giants a 3-0 lead with 8:53 to go in the first quarter.

Bahr would kickoff after a short delay with an official getting injured and needing some assistance and he would boot it on a line drive taken by Latin Berry and would get it up to the 23 yard line, where he was hit down by Lewis Tillman.  First down, the ball went to Gary up the gut, taken to the 26, hit down by Erik Howard and John Washington.  2nd and 7, Everett dropped back in the pocket and had pressure from behind by LT and dumped it out in the flat to Gary at the 23 yard line, and he had his legs taken out by Collins at the 29 on a nice open field tackle.  3rd and 3, the ball went to Gary running to his right and he ran into a pile and was knocked down by Pepper Johnson at the 33 and with the measurement was given a first down.  Green would take the next carry, running up the middle would find nothing, so he would cut back to his left and turn the corner and accelerate around a missed tackle by Everson Walls at the 38 yard line and took off up the sidelines where he was finally shoved out of bounds at the Giants’ 36 yard line by Myron Guyton, and standing on the bench was Meggett, who actually leveled Green by accident.  First down, Everett back, would hit Pete Holohan, an annoying Giant killer, at the 16 yard line over the middle, hit down by Guyton.  Gary would run around the left end, and pick up 3 yards, hit down by Reasons.  On 2nd and 7, you would see a call that wouldn’t happen today

Everyone knows the rules today in the NFL related to avoiding intentional grounding.  All a QB has to do is get outside the tackle box, and throw the ball at or beyond the line of scrimmage to avoid the penalty (and also save a hit on the QB, which is why they put the rule in place.)  Well, in 1990, that rule didn’t exist yet.  So Everett fake the handoff and rolled to his right where he was chased down by Johnnie Cooks.  As Cooks dove for him, Everett uncorked a pass out of the corner of the end zone.  Should have been harmless for the most part.  But the officials decided to call intentional grounding on Everett saying that he was trying to avoid the sack.  So with the loss and the loss of down, it made it 3rd and 17 at the 23 yard line.  Everett would drop back, with LT baring down on him, tried to hit Ellard by the goal line, but the ball sailed on him, hit off Ellard’s hands and was nearly picked by Walls.  So the drive stalled and on came the veteran barefoot kicker Mike Lansford to attempt a 40 yarder.

Lansford was having a horrible year to this point and continued with the same problems.  This time he would just hook it and it would sail wide to the left as John Robinson hung his head in disgust.  

The Giants would get the ball at the 23 yard line and gave it to OJ up the middle to the 25, stopped by Doug Reed.  2nd and 8, Simms back, with a pocket to set up in, rifled one into Meggett, who was split out at WR, and he caught it at the 35, and spun forward to the 37, taken down by Jerry Gray.  First down, OJ took a delayed handoff and he was stopped for no gain by Kelm.  2nd and 10, Simms again back, would swing it out to the left flat over to Hampton, who was chased down by Stams for no gain.  3rd and 10, Simms in the gun, would try to hit Lionel Manuel on an out pattern, but the ball sailed on him and went out of bounds.  Landeta on to punt, and he got off a high punt to the 10, and Ellard would run sideways across the field and was chased down by Gary Reasons on the 17 yard line.

Everett would drop back and hit Holohan in the right flat at the 23 yard line and he would turn up the field to the 28 yard line, hogtied by Jackson to the ground, but good for a first down.  Gary would take the carry up the middle and it looked like he had a huge hole on a cutback to the right and tripped at the 30, touched down by Pepper but he looked to have a huge gain if not for losing his footing on what would be the final play of the first quarter.  2nd and 8, Gary again on the carry and he would rumble up the gut to the 36, hit down by John Washington.  3rd and 2, Everett back with LT coming in on him, had to hurry a pass to Holohan at the 40, and he would snag it and push ahead to the 42, hit down by Steve DeOssie and Myron Guyton, good for another first down.  Everett again back, and he would try to throw a deep pass, some what in the direction of Flipper Anderson, but the ball sailed way out of bounds.  2nd and 10, Gary took the handoff up the middle, got whacked in the hole by LT at the line of scrimmage, but spun off the hit and fell forward to the 44, taken down by Leonard Marshall.  3rd and 8, Everett back, would hit Derek Faison on a crossing pattern at the Rams’ 48 yard line, he would sprint his way to the Giants’ 49, taken down by Perry Williams and about a half a yard short of a first down.  The Rams decided not to go for it and brought on the punting team, and it would be fair caught by Meggett at the 12 yard line as John Robinson chose to play field position.

The Giants would start off with a handoff to OJ running to his left for a 3 yard gain, hit down by Stams.  2nd and 7, Simms back, and with time was able to hit Mark Ingram on an out pattern from the slot at the 25, and he turned up the field and out of bounds at the 29 yard line, shoved out by Stewart for a first down.  Again the ball to OJ, again just a short gain, running to his right, hit down by Stams at the 32.  2nd and 7, Simms back and would dump it off to OJ at the 26 and the big back would chug up the field and looked to plow over a Ram on the play and would start to use that right hook stiff arm he would make famous in the Super Bowl, but would get his legs cut out from under him by Bobby Humphrey at the 35.  3rd and 4, Simms in the gun, with Meggett out wide and Hampton in the backfield, and Simms would go to Hampton who was wide open at the 40 on an option route, and he would take it to the 44, taken down by Stewart, but good for a first down.  First down, the quick draw to Hampton and he would get it just to the 45, taken down by Brett Fairenez.  2nd and 9, Simms again back, with all day, and he would hit Ingram over the middle, behind the linebackers in the zone at the Rams’ 38 yard line.  Ingram would weave his way out of bounds at the 24 yard line, shoved out by Vince Newsome.  OJ would take the carry running to his left and plow forward to the 20, taken down by Piel.  2nd and 7, OJ would get stacked up at the line of scrimmage and was taken down by Reed.  3rd and 6, Simms in the gun and would look for an open man, but one never came and he would get sacked by Piel at the 29 yard line.  So one would come Bahr to try another FG

Bahr would hit the field goal from 45 yards out, but a flag was thrown on the play.  The refs would call a hands to the face on the Giants, but Jerry Seeman would then reverse course and call it on the Rams on Alvin Wright and an automatic first down.  On a 4th and 15, Parcells would accept the penalty and take points off the board as Robinson screamed on the sidelines.

So with new life at the 24, OJ would take the handoff running to the left and he would turn the corner, take it out to the 11 yard line, shoved out by Humphrey, but a flag on the Giants for a hold on Bob Mrosko would set them back to 1st and 20 at the 34.  Simms back to throw, would set up a screen to the left to Meggett and he would be hit right at the line of scrimmage and shoved back by Stams.  2nd and 20, Simms under center would drop back, dump it off to OJ at the 38 and he would lumber his way down to the 26, taken down by Stams.  3rd and 12, Simms in the gun, would stand in and hit Kyles, this time open at the 17 yard line and under the zone, and Kyles would take the ball down to the 9 yard line, for a 16 yard gain and a huge first down.  So first and goal at the 9, the Giants would go to a more familiar combination

If the fans didn’t really know about Simms to Kyles, they sure did know all about Simms to Bavaro.  And here Simms would run a little play action fake and bootleg to his right, and would go back over the middle, where Bavaro had simply stopped his route in front of the goal line leaving him open.  Meanwhile, Howard Cross kind of drew coverage away and it was an easy pitch and TD as Bavaro absorbed the hit, and fell into the end zone before taking a knee a la Tebow many years later.  Bahr’s extra point would make the score 10-0 with 3:34 go to in the half.

Bahr’s kickoff would go to Latin Berry who caught a line drive that backed him into the end zone and a touchback.  Starting at the 20, Everett back, with time, would go up the field to Flipper Anderson, who caught it up the seam at the 45, and rolled forward to midfield, where Myron Guyton actually tripped on him to down him, but it was close to a no touch and Flipper could have run the rest of the way.  After the 30 yard gain, it was first and 10, and Gary took the ball up the gut, danced around but was taken down by Howard and Dorsey for a 1 yard gain.  2nd and 9, Everett again back and had some time early, but got happy feet and was sacked on a delayed safety blitz by Greg Jackson back at the 45 which took the game to the 2 minute warning.  3rd and 15, Everett with time and had Henry Ellard open between 3 Giants at the 35 yard line and the ball in his hands, but Guyton reached in and pulled it loose for a drop.  4th and 15, Keith English on to punt, and he got off kick to Meggett at the 12 yard line and he danced to the 24 where he was downed with 1:43 to go in the half.  

Simms in the gun set up a screen pass to Meggett to the left side, Meggett caught it at the 20, broke a tackle by Fairenez and turned up the field to the 31 yard line, taken down by Stams.  On 2nd and 3, Simms again in the gun, gave the ball off to Meggett on an inside handoff, but he was swallowed up by Mike Piel at the 31 for no gain.  With the clock running and all 3 time outs, the Giants took their time to set up and hand off to Anderson running to his right on a sweep around the end but was stopped by Gray after a 1 yard gain and he stayed in bounds, forcing a Rams time out with :40 to go in the half.  Landeta on to punt, and was taken by Hendley at the 17 yard line and he was able to initially get away from Reyna Thompson at the 20, where he would juke his way to his right, dodge another tackle and make his way up the field to the 32 yard line, where Thompson got up and chased him down from behind with :25 to go in the half just as it looked like he might have a big return.  

Everett would throw over the middle to Ellard, who caught it at the 42 yard line and he would back up actually and take it to the 47, knocked down by Dave Duerson and the Rams called their 2nd time out with :19 to go.  First down, Everett back again and threw a deep shot down the left side towards Flipper, but he was double covered by Williams and Everson Walls, and his feet got tangled with Walls and was tripped up and fell.  2nd down, with pressure coming from LT up the middle, Everett dumped it over the middle to Holohan at the 50 and he did a quick hook and lateral back to Buford McGee, but it was read perfectly by Jackson and was thrown out of bounds at the Giants’ 47 yard line, stopping the clock with :08 to go.  3rd and 3, Everett would try a Hail Mary

With little time remaining, the Rams opted for the Hail Mary, and with just a 3 man rush, Everett was flushed out by LT and would uncork a deep pass in the direction of Faison, who actually had it in his hands for a moment but bounced off his helmet and up in the air where Walls was waiting in the end zone to bat it to himself and would pick it off in the corner of the end zone for a touchback to end the half with the Giants leading 10-0.

The Giants would get the ball to start the 2nd half with Lansford kicking off to Rodney Hampton on a short kick, settling under it at the 9 yard line.  Hampton would accelerate up the middle and out to the 27 yard line.  Simms led the offense out and started with an attempted screen to Anderson, but was batted down by Fairenez and luckily not picked off.  2nd and 10, Simms would handoff to OJ on a sprint draw to his right and he was grabbed from behind by Kevin Greene and yanked down at the 30.  OJ would come up yelling at the refs for missing a facemask, which they did and was surprising because OJ had one of the larger facemasks for a running back at the time.  3rd and 7, Greene would make an even larger impact

Kevin Greene was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL when he was in his prime and he used to kill the Giants when they faced the Rams.  In this case, coming off the right side, Greene barged past Doug Reisenberg and smashed into Simms who was attempting to throw and knocked the ball free.  As the Rams attempted a scoop and score, they kicked the ball up the field, where it was recovered by Greene at the 10 yard line.  

So suddenly the Rams found themselves in great field position on first and goal and began with a handoff to Gary running to his left, broke a tackle attempt by Reasons, and powered into Guyton at the 5 and charged to the 3 where he was finally bent back by Jackson, Walls, and Dorsey.  The Rams would keep hammering on the next play

Not much to this play, just a power run to the right side by Gary, who got a head of steam and powered into the end zone, taking Dorsey with him.  Dorsey apparently lost his mind for a moment, grabbing Gary by the head and facemask while they were already 2 yards into the end zone and tried to drag him back out of there as about 4 flags came flying for a personal foul.  After a procedural penalty on Greene for not reporting as an eligible number lining up to block on the extra point, Lansford put the kick through to make the score 10-7 with 13:03 to go in the 3rd quarter.

So now LA had come alive and with the penalty, Lansford kicked off from the 50.  Lansford would pooch it to the goal line and taken by Hampton and run back up the middle again and squited out to the 16, stopped by Pat Terrell.  With Darryl Strawberry, newly signed by the LA Dodgers, hanging out on the Giants sidelines, the Giants team had to deal with a crowd now back in the game.  Simms back, and went over the middle to Bavaro at the 23, and he would turn up the field and get to the 28 yard line, stopped by Stams and a first down.  OJ would take the carry trying to run to his right, but Alvin Wright got into the backfield to engulf him for a 1 yard loss.  2nd and 11, Simms back with some time, dumped it off to OJ at the 31, and he would spin his way up to the 39, diving forward and looking like he might have fumbled on the hit by Gray, but the ref called him down, and just short of a first down.  3rd and inches, the ball went to Mo Carthon, who plowed into the line and looked to be stood up, but after the measurement had clearly gotten the ball for a first down.  1st and 10, Simms back, with a blitz coming on, settled in the pocket and threw a pass over the middle to Mark Ingram, who jumped and snagged it at the Rams’ 46 yard line for a big first down, tackled by Gray and a 15 yard gain.  First down, Simms back again and like a surgeon drilled the pass into Bavaro at the 35, over the linebacker, and down to the 32 yard line for another first down on a 13 yard gain.  With the life draining from the crowd as the Giants marched down the field, the ball went to OJ running to his left, got around the edge, and turned up the field, spinning off a tackle attempt by Humprey at the 25 and lunging forward to the 17, stopped by Newsome, but another 15 yard gain.  First down, Simms would give to OJ, but this time he would get tripped up by Doug Reed in the backfield for a 1 yard loss.  On 2nd and 11, OJ would get replaced by Hampton and the rookie would show why he was a first round pick

Hampton would take the draw from Simms running to his right, he would cut inside a block by Carthon to go up the middle, follow another block by guard Bob Kratch, and then cut to his right to get around a tackle by Newsome and then cut back to his left as Stewart and Stams fell at his feet and chugged right into the end zone as the crowd of thousands of transplanted New Yorkers cheered the touchdown run, and it was so loud that even Madden had to make mention of it.  Bahr’s extra point made the score 17-7 with 7:46 to go in the 3rd quarter.  

Bahr’s kickoff would go to Berry at the 4 yard line and he would head towards the middle of the field and would be met by Duerson and Thompson at the 19.  On first down, Gary headed towards the middle and cut to his left, but he would get hit and strung out by Howard and then Marshall, and then Pepper and Williams for a loss.  2nd and 12, Everett back, and would hit Aaron Cox on the left sidelines for a first down at the 32 yard line, knocked out of bounds by Williams.  And then would come a play which showed the difference in one year to the next

Everett would drop back and have time to throw.  He would pump fake and then launch a deep shot down the right sidelines.  Flipper Anderson would have a step on Mark Collins and was in position to haul in a 68 yard TD pass.  One year earlier in the playoffs, Flipper beat Collins for a TD on a similar pass in OT (and Collins was actually playing on a broken ankle, they found out after the fact).  But this time, the ball would bounce off his arms and fall incomplete as Everett held his head in frustration.  After that missed opportunity, Everett again dropped back, and this time would roll slightly to his right, and with pressure coming from Johnie Cooks would fire over the middle and too high for Cox near midfield and incomplete.  3rd and 10, Everett again back, would dump it off to McGee coming out of the backfield at the 29 yard line.  McGee would turn up the field and get to the 41, but was held short of the first down thanks to Duerson, Thompson and Collins driving him back.  On would come English to punt on 4th and 1, and took a delay of game to give a better angle to go for the coffin corner.  English’s punt would go to Meggett at the 24 and he would take it to the 33, stopped by Terrell with 5:06 to go in the third.

Simms started with a handoff to Anderson, who running to his right plowed into the line for a 2 yard gain, stopped by Wright.  2nd and 8, with Carthon in motion, Simms dropped back and tried to hit Howard Cross on a deep seam pass, and Cross had his man beat, but pressure on Simms forced an overthrow.  3rd and 8, Simms in the gun, took the snap and had the ball defected at the line by Brian Smith, but got enough on it to make it to Stephen Baker at the 44 yard line on a diving catch and good for a first down.  1st and 10, OJ got the handoff, and he chugged over the middle for a 3 yard gain, stopped by Reed.  2nd and 7, Simms back and tried to hit Baker on a sidelines pass, but was knocked away by Humphrey.  3rd and 7, Simms back in the gun again, with plenty of time to throw would go to Ingram over the middle at the Rams’ 43 yard line.  Ingram would get his head taken off by Newsome and knocked the ball loose.  If that play had happened today, it would have been a penalty for helmet to helmet, but in 1990, anything goes.  Landeta on to punt booted it towards the goal line, bounced at the 5 yard line, and then went sideways and was downed at the 3 yard line by David Whitmore.

Deep in their own end zone, the Rams began with Everett dropping back in his end zone and threw a deep shot over the middle towards Cox, who had it at the 23 yard line but had it ripped out by Collins for a drop.  2nd and 10, Everett again back, with pressure coming up the middle from Howard, dumped it off to Gary who caught it in the end zone and got around LT and made it out to the 9 yard line, shoved out of bounds by Walls.  3rd and 4, Everett again had pressure coming up the middle from Howard and Marshall and tried to throw deep over the middle towards Ellard, but Reasons got a hand up and deflected the ball away.  

On came English to punt again, and the line drive was taken by Meggett at the Rams’ 49, and he would run to his right, cut past the first wave of Rams, and get tripped at the 42, however he would keep his balance by using his arm to push forward and made it all the way to the 30 yard line as he was thrown down by Robert Delpino.

Deep in the Rams end, OJ began with a run to the left, and he powered around the end as Carthon blasted Farinez down to the ground and sealed the edge for OJ to turn the corner and chug down to the 21 yard line and a 9 yard gain, stopped by Newsome.  2nd and a short 1, Simms would send Ingram to the other side of the formation and hand off to Carthon up the gut to the 18 yard line for a first down, stopped by Stams.  First down, OJ running to the left, dropped his shoulder and powered to the 14, hit down by Stams on the final play of the 3rd quarter.  2nd and 6, OJ again with the carry up the middle, absorbed a hit, and fell forward to the 10, hit down by Wright.  3rd and 2, OJ running to his left, found a crease, cut to his left and charged all the way to the 3 yard line, spun down by Newsome.  That would set up a first and goal

Simms would pitch the ball back to OJ running to his right, he would take a couple of slow steps backwards as if he intended to throw the ball, but when nothing materialized, Anderson decided to just keep it and accelerate (as much as a 33 year old OJ could) and powered over the goal line, dragging Larry Kelm with him.  A flag on the play was first called a hold by Jerry Seeman on the Giants but was after a discussion with Aaron Pointer (the Pointer Sisters’ brother), the call was changed to a hold on the Rams and they gave OJ the TD.  Bahr’s extra point made the score 24-7 with 13:25 as Pat Summerall gave the proper evaluation of the Giants, that they “choke” the other team out and wear them down.

 Bahr’s kickoff would go to Berry halfway deep in the endzone for a touchback.  Everett at the 20, dropped back and threw an outside route to Cox at the 25 and he would get to the 27 where he was grabbed up around the chest and thrown out of bounds by Collins.  Forced to go to the air to get back in the game, Everett fell into the Giants’ trap

Everett dropped back and with some time tried to force the ball to the middle of the field towards Holohan, but Reasons dropped deep in coverage and snagged it at the 40 and was taken down by Cox and Holohan as a bikini clad Giant fan in the crowd celebrated (gotta love LA).  Madden would note that the Giants had taken the life out of Everett and gave some props to a young Bill Belichick as the defensive coordinator.  

Giants ball at the 40 and Lewis Tillman would be in at running back and would plow straight ahead to the 37 yard line, hit down by Wright.  2nd and 7, Simms would fake the handoff to Tillman and Greene was unblocked on a bootleg and with a free shot coming, Simms ducked down after Greene’s 2nd sack.  3rd and 12, the Giants would call a timeout to get set and come back with Simms in the gun and ran a screen to Meggett to the right side, and just as it looked like he was about to break one, Newsome got him around the ankle and just got him down after a 5 yard gain.  Playing field position, the Giants brought Landeta back out and took a delay of game to give him a better angle.  

In a few years time, when Dan Reeves took over as head coach in 1993, Sean Landeta was released mid season and Reeves signed his old Bronco punter Mike Horan because he was a “directional kicker”.  Well, here was Landeta, in 1990 probably the best punter in the NFL showing his finesse, and angled it out at the 2 yard line with 10:37 to go in the game.

The Rams, again backed up in their end zone, had a rush in his face right up the middle and forced a quick pass over the middle to Holohan at the 10 yard line which was dropped.  So 2nd and 10, Everett just avoided a safety as he was hit by Marshall in the end zone on a stunt but he got the ball off and it went to Cox over at the 17 yard line and he was taken down at the 18 by Perry Williams.  First down, Everett uncorked a deep shot to Cox by the sidelines and the ball was batted out of bounds by Cox, trying to keep Collins from picking it off.  2nd and 10, the ball went to McGee over the middle and he got the ball to the 21 yard line, hit down by Jackson and Duerson.  3rd and 7, in the no huddle, Everett hit McGee in the right flat and he was able to find room in the semi-prevent at the 22 yard line and took the ball up the field to the 31, hit down by Thompson but good for a first down.  The ball would go to McGee up the middle and was hit down by Marshall at the 36, but a flag thrown was an offsides on the Giants by LT was accepted and set up a 1st and 5.  And then the Giants secondary started to hit people

Everett again was back to throw and as he had LT in the vicinity, fired a pass towards the sidelines to his TE Holohan.  However, the throw was a little high at around the 42 yard line and out of reach.  Perry Williams came over and blasted Holohan with a clear helmet to helmet hit which would have been a penalty in today’s NFL.  But back then, a good clean hit and had Madden chuckling about it and we got a replay of the sound effect of the hit, along with Madden noting that it would “clean the sinuses out”.  The next play, with Everett retreating, he dumped it to McGee at the 35, and he took it to the 45, taking a bit hit from both Jackson and Duerson.  First down, Everett again with some pressure around him from LT, scrambled up and dumped the ball to McGee at the 47 and he would make his way to the Giants’ 47, popped by Duerson.  2nd and 3, Everett again dropped back, but this time the Giants’ rush got to him and he was dumped by Howard for a sack back at the Rams’ 47.  On 3rd down, Everett threw to Holohan at the 45 yard line and he would get laid out by Walls and the ball would fall incomplete.  On 4th and 9, the Rams had to go for it, but the Giants weren’t done drilling LA receivers

One of the most underrated Giants in the late 1980s/early 1990s was safety Myron Guyton.  He was a solid player, but could lay some big hits along the way.  In this case, on 4th and long, Everett, under pressure from Pepper Johnson, tried to hit Ellard at the 30 yard line and he had found a small opening between Guyton and Collins, but that opening closed quickly as Guyton drilled Ellard on a big hit (again using his helmet) and knocked the ball free.  The Giants defense celebrated and came off the field with 7:18 to go.

Giants ball at the Rams’ 47, and Simms began with a handoff to Tillman running to his left and took it out to the 43, stopped by Reed.  2nd and 6, the Giants kept it on the ground, cut back up the middle and was stopped after a short gain by Wright.  3rd and 4, again to Tillman, this time running to his left, and only gained 1 to the 40.  The Giants just trying to kill clock, had Landeta back to punt and again took a delay of game for a better angle.  And wouldn’t you know it

And again, Landeta showed that he can bury a team deep.  This time the ball bounced at the 4 yard line, and went sideways and Reyna Thompson guarded the goal line.  But the ball would die at the 3 being covered up by Reasons.

So, again deep in their own end, Reasons wasn’t done getting his hands on the ball

Everett, again back in his own end zone, and feeling Marshall heading towards him, threw a dart over the middle towards Holohan and the ball banged into traffic at the 25 and off of Walls and went backwards towards Reasons who was trailing in coverage.  Reasons snagged the rebound at the 27, and he took it up to the 15 where he was spun down by Cox.  On the play, Guyton looked to take a shot to his stomach/ribs but was ok as the Giants took over with 4:33 to play in the game.

Again, sticking to the ground, Tillman took the ball around the left side, but he would find a lane and cut up the field and get the ball down to the 5 yard line, stopped by Kelm and Newsome.  2nd and 1, Tillman ran a similar play running to his left, and again cut it back and took the ball down to the 1 yard line, stopped again by Newsome, and on the play Greene was injured in what looked like a concussion as they gave him smelling salts on the field.  First and goal at the one yard line, Tillman ran to his right, but was stuffed for no gain by Stams.  2nd and goal at the one, the Giants would put the icing on the cake

With all the backups in along the offensive line, and Lee Rouson at fullback, Tillman went over the middle to plow his way just over the goal line.  OJ Anderson, who referred to Tillman as his puppy, ran out on the field to congratulate him on the score and Bahr’s extra point made it a resounding 31-7 lead with 2:11 to go.

Bahr’s kickoff went to Berry at the 10, and was shoved out of bounds at the 21 by Jackson.  Now the Rams decided to clear the bench, bringing out Chuck Long at QB and a former big name running back in Marcus DuPree who was out of the game for 5 years.  DuPree got the carry and was hit in the backfield by Mike Fox and lunged forward to the 23 yard line, and narrowly avoided a fumble to take the game to the 2 minute warning at 1:58.  2nd and 9, Dupree took the ball, cut back over the middle, made it to the 29, hit down by Bobby Abrams.  3rd and 2, DuPree took the ball up the middle, found a crease and got into the secondary, and took on a hit from Duerson at the 36 and fell forward to the 40 for a first down.  Dupree got the ball again, running to his left, spun off a tackle attempt by John Washington, and cut up the field where he was finally hit down by Abrams and DeOssie at the 44.  At that point, both teams had enough and let the clock run down to 0:00 and the Giants walked off with a big 31-7 win to go to 9-0 on the season.

Interesting tidbits/ Post Mortem

  • Prior to this game, the Giants had never beaten Jim Everett.  Everett was 3-0 going into this game against the Giants. 
  • Thought the Giants finally beat him, Everett remained a problem for the Giants throughout his career.  If there was a game that you could point to and say “something’s wrong here” with Ray Handley, it didn’t take very long.  In fact, it was Week 2 of the 1991 NFL Season.  The Giants had just won an exciting Monday Night opener vs. the 49ers, 16-14 on a late Matt Bahr field goal, just like the NFC Championship game the year prior.  The Rams, coming off a crash and burn 5-11 season in 1990, would be even worse in 1991, going 3-13.  The Parcells Giants would have wiped the floor with this Ram team at home.  But, this wasn’t the Parcells’ Giants.  They would come out completely flat, sleep walk to a 19-6 deficit thanks to 4 Tony Zendejas field goals, and despite holding Everett to a 7-16, 83 yard game, they would allow a scatback named Robert Delpino to run for 116 yards and a TD in the Giants 19-13 loss.  Everett would face the Giants 5 more times in his career (with the Rams and then with the Saints) and go 3-2.  In all, in his career, he would go 7-3 against Big Blue.
  • Lewis Tillman scored his first career TD.  Tillman never really got his shot as the Giants main back.  He was a good special teams player and was always referred to as a change of pace back/ “slasher”.  Tillman was drafted in 1989 out of Jackson State, where he broke Walter Payton’s records and there was thought he would get a chance to play when Joe Morris was lost in the pre-season.  As it turned out, OJ Anderson came out of dry docks and posted a 1023 yard, 14 TD performance.  By 1990, Tillman had to compete with not only Anderson, but first round pick Rodney Hampton as well.  And 3rd down duties were handled by his fellow draft classmate Dave Meggett.  So Tillman only got a handful of carries.  He would just score 5 TDs in his 5 years with the Giants, as Hampton became the lead back.  But he got 3 of them in a 2 game stretch when he was forced into action when Hampton got hurt in 1993.  Tillman responded with back to back 100 yard games, going for 29 carries for 104 yards in a blowout in Washington and then a career high 169 yards on 21 carries and 2 TDs vs. the Eagles.  Tillman would leave the Giants as a free agent to sign with the Bears in 1994, and scored 7 TDs that season.
  • Rodney Hampton’s 19 yard TD was also his first rushing TD with the Giants.  He had scored 2 previous times, both on receptions (vs the Eagles and Cowboys, both at Giants Stadium).  He would only score one more TD in his rookie season, a 2 yarder vs. the Cardinals in Arizona in Hostetler’s first start after taking over the rest of the season for Phil Simms.
  • Troy Kyles, a rookie free agent out of Howard, caught his first 2 NFL passes in the game, catching 2 for 52 yards, including a 35 yarder.  He would only catch 2 more passes his entire career, in the Giants first loss of the season at Philadelphia.  Other than that, he was active as a special teamer in the Bears playoff game and in the Super Bowl vs. the Bills.  He would be out of football in the 1991 season and apparently made his way on to the 1992 49ers roster.
  • Mark Bavaro’s scored the penultimate TD of his career with the Giants in this game.  His final TD would come in the Giants loss at Philly.
  • Playing the Rams in LA was not a kind place for the Giants.  Beginning in 1947 when the Giants went to play them on the West Coast the Giants were 3-8 against them (one win was the 1984 Wild Card however).  The Giants would face the Rams in LA just two more times, losing both games in 1992 and 1994.  When the Rams moved to St. Louis, the Giants didn’t fare much better, losing their first 3 times on the road, including a heart breaking 15-14 loss in 2001 when Michael Strahan terrorized Kurt Warner.  However, things turned around more recently, with the Giants winning their last 3 trips to the Rams, including a 37-27 win in 2014 when Odell Beckham Jr. burned the Rams, who were trying to injure/intimidate him and got burned for 8 catches, 148 yards and 2 TDs.
  • Marcus Dupree got his first action as an NFL running back and we saw him in action as a reminder of what could have been for one of the more talented running backs to come along, but he never "made it".  Dupree burst on the scene at the University of Oklahoma in 1982 where as a freshman, his head coach Barry Switzer compared him to Earl Campbell as a combination of size and speed.  Dupree would rumble for 1393 yards and 12 TDs in his freshman season.  But then came the injuries, which limited Dupree in his sophomore season and only gained 396 yards and 3 TDs.  Dupree would disappear from the team and then announce that he was transferring to the University of Southern Mississippi, but because of the NCAA rules, he was told he had to sit out the rest of 1983 and also 1984.  Dupree would bail the college scene and go to the USFL,  where he was signed by the New Orleans Breakers.  Dupree would be generally effective, gaining 684 yards in splitting time with (future Saints RB) Buford Jordan.  In 1985, Dupree would severely injure his knee, and ended his USFL career.  Dupree would be out of football for nearly 5 years and balloon to over 300 pounds.  After a meeting with Walter Payton, Dupree would get himself in shape, shed 100 pounds and try out for the Rams and make the team.  Dupree would wear #34 in Sweetness' honor.  Dupree would gain 22 yards on 4 carries in garbage time vs. the Giants.  He would only play in 15 games over the course of the 1990 and 1991 seasons for the Rams, finishing with 251 yards on 68 carries and 1 TD before being released in 1992 and retiring.  
  • And the guy handing the ball to Dupree was another former big name in college who never quite reached his potential as a pro.  Chuck Long became a big time college QB at Iowa where he broke several Hawkeye records, including a domination of Texas in the 1984 Freedom Bowl, when Long helped lead a 55-17 blowout and would go 29-39, 461 yards and 6 TDs.  Because Long had redshirted his freshman season, he could have decided to go to the NFL (or USFL), but decided to stay one more season at Iowa where he became an instant Heisman candidate. Long had Iowa ranked #1 in the country for a time, including beating #2 Michigan.  But they finally lost to Ohio State and Long would end up in the Rose Bowl for his final game, and played in a record 5 Bowl Games thanks to redshirting rules which have since been changed.  Long would finish 35-13-1 at Iowa and hold almost every passing record at the school by the time he graduated.   Long would enter the NFL draft in 1986 and would be taken in the 1st round (#12 overall) by the Lions.  He was the 2nd QB drafted (behind only Jim Everett at #3 overall, drafted by Houston and then traded to the Rams) and one round ahead of fellow Big 10 QB Jack Trudeau out of Illinois.  Long would only play in 3 games in 1986, sitting behind veteran Joe Ferguson and in 2 starts would go 0-2 and throw for 247 yards and 2 TDs and 2 INTs.  The Lions would give him the starting job in the 1987 strike season, going 3-9 with 2598 yards, 11 TD and an NFL leading 20 INTs.  In 1988, Long would be limited to just 7 starts due to injuries, going 1-6 in those games and throwing for 856 yards and 6 TDs and 6 INTs.  By 1989, the Lions had changed their offense.  The brought in Mouse Davis to install the run and shoot offense.  They drafted Barry Sanders as the lynchpin of the offense.  Needless to say, Long's skillset didn't fit this system.  The Lions gave the job to veteran former scab player Bob Gagliano and then eventually to rookie Rodney Peete.  Long only got in 1 game and didn't start.  He was traded to the Rams in 1990 and only completed 1 pass for 4 yards.  Long would end up back in Detroit in 1991 as a backup to Peete and would retire after the 1991 season at the age of 29.
  • As was typical during a blowout game when Madden and Summerall were doing it, they would find a way to keep you entertained watching the game even though it was no longer a contest.  Remember, back in 1990, there was no fantasy football, at least not mainstream.  So they focused on guard William Roberts, sitting on the bench, having a guy standing about 10 feet away from him, pulling off the wrap from his arm.  Madden noted that it was Steve Valencia a quasi-stretching and conditioning coach who was on the staff, but not actually paid by the organization, but was paid by the players.  It would seem to be a throw away note of interest.  However, fast forward about 2 months from that time, before Super Bowl XXV.  Parcells wanted to add in extra security due to the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq/Kuwait.  So he hired a 32 year old cop from Florham Park named Mike Murphy.  Not only was Murphy brought on to help with security, but Parcells had another problem.  Someone was stealing jewelry and money from the players.  So Parcells asked Murphy, who he happened to meet earlier in the summer down the Jersey Shore in Sea Girt, to look into it.  Murphy and an FBI colleague found the guilty party, Valencia.  The day of the Super Bowl, Murphy essentially had Valencia arrested and placed in a private car and whisked away.  Valencia was never heard from again, and died years later in the Brooklyn House of Detention.  Murphy has remained a fixture on the Giants sidelines from that point forward in 1990, being seen behind all the head coaches, from Parcells through Coughlin and now Ben McAdoo.