- History of the New York Giants
The history of the
New York Giants, an American footballteam which currently plays in the NFL's National Football Conference, comprises more than 80 seasons. The Giants were founded in 1925 by original owner Tim Marain the then five-year-old NFL. Mara owned the team until his death in 1959, when it was passed on to his sons Wellington and Jack. During their history the Giants have acquired seven NFL championships, three of which came in Super Bowls. In just its third season, the team finished with the best record in the league at 11–1–1 and was awarded the NFL title. In a fourteen year period beginning in 1933, the Giants qualified to play in the NFL championship game eight times, winning twice. They did not win another league title until 1956, aided by several future Pro Football Hall of Fameplayers such as running back Frank Gifford, linebacker Sam Huff, and offensive tackle Roosevelt Brown. From 1958 to 1963, the Giants played in the NFL championship game five out of those six years, but failed to win. The 1958 NFL Championship game, in which they lost 23–17 in overtime to the Baltimore Colts, is widely credited with increasing the popularity of the NFL in the United States. The Giants registered only two winning seasons from 1964 to 1980 and were unable to advance to the playoffs. But from 1981 to 1990, the team qualified for the postseason seven times in ten seasons. During that period, they won Super Bowl XXI(1987) and Super Bowl XXV(1991). The team's success during the 1980s was aided by head coach Bill Parcells, quarterback Phil Simms, and Hall of Fame linebackers Lawrence Taylorand Harry Carson. The Giants struggled throughout much of the 1990s as Parcells left the team and players such as Simms and Taylor declined and eventually retired. They returned to the Super Bowl in 2001, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, and as of 2007 have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. In the 2007 season, the Giants upset the heavily favored New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII.
Birth and success: 1925-1957
The Giants were founded in 1925 by original owner
Tim Marawith an investment of $500. [http://www.giants.com/history/TeamHistory.html History of the New York Giants] , giants.com, accessed January 12, 2007. ] Legally named "New York Football Giants" to distinguish themselves from the baseball team of the same name, they became one of the first teams of the then five-year old NFL. The Giants played their first game against All New Britain in New Britain, Connecticut, on October 5, 1925. [ [http://pages.prodigy.net/revmoran/FirstGame/FirstGame.htm New York First Game & First Home Game Program] , prodigy.net, accessed March 16, 2007. ] [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40910FD3B5E1A7A93C7A9178BD95F418285F9 New York Pro Eleven Takes Opening Game] , " The New York Times", October 5, 1925, accessed March 16, 2007. ]
Although the Giants were successful on the field in their first season, going 8–4, [http://nfl.com/history/teams/NYG NFL History: New York Giants] , NFL.com/history, accessed January 23, 2007. ] their financial status was a different story. Overhadowed by baseball, boxing, and college football, professional football was not a popular sport in 1925. The Giants were in dire financial straits until the eleventh game of the season when
Red Grangeand the Chicago Bearscame to town attracting over 73,000 fans. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 52 ] This gave the Giants a much needed influx of revenue, and perhaps altered the history of the franchise. [ [http://www.nfl.com/history/chronology/1921-1930 NFL History: 1921-1930] , NFL.com/history, accessed May 13, 2007. ] [ Carroll. pg. 126 ]
The 1927 season was a very successful one for the Giants, who finished 11–1–1. [http://www.giants.com/history/ChampionshipGames.html Championship games 1925-1949] , giants.com, accessed January 12, 2007. ] Their defense posted 10 shutouts in 13 games and was the best in the league. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 68 ] New coach
Earl Potteigerled the team into a game against the Chicago Bearslate in the season with first place on the line. The Giants won 13–7 in what Steve Owen called, "the toughest, roughest football game I ever played." [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 69 ] From then on it was an easy trip to the championship, as they had a two game lead over the Bears by virtue of their head to head tiebreaker (note: the championship was determined by record in that era; it was not until 1933 that the NFL had a championship game).
Following a disappointing 4–7–2 1928 season, Potteiger was out and Roy Andrews in as coach. Before the 1929 season owner
Tim Marapurchased the entire squad of the Detroit Wolverines, including star quarterback Benny Friedman, a team which had finished in third place the year before. [ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 78 ] The rosters of the two teams were combined under the Giants name and this led to immediate improvement as the Giants record soared to 13–1–1. However, their only loss occurred in a November 20-6 game to the Green Bay Packerswho by virtue of this win, and their 12–0–1 record, would go on to win the NFL title. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 79 ] Following the season, Mara transferred ownership over to his two sons to insulate the team from creditors. At the time Jack was just 22, and Wellington only 14.
In 1930, there were still many who questioned the quality of the professional game, claiming the college "amateurs" played with more intensity. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 83 ] In December 1930, the Giants played a team of Notre Dame All Stars at the Polo Grounds to raise money for the unemployed of New York City. It was also an opportunity to establish the superiority of the pro game.
Knute Rocknereassembled his Four Horsemen along with the stars of his 1930 Championship squad and told them to score early, then defend. But from the beginning it was a one-sided contest, with Benny Friedmanrunning for two Giant touchdowns and Hap Moranpassing for another. Notre Dame failed to score. When it was all over, Coach Rockne told his team, '" [t] hat was the greatest football machine I ever saw. "I am glad none of you got hurt." [ [http://pages.prodigy.net/revmoran/giantsnd/Giants_vs_Notre_Dame_page1.htm New York Giants vs. Notre Dame All Stars December 14, 1930] , prodigy.net, accessed March 12, 2007. ] The game raised $100,000 for the homeless, and is often credited with establishing the legitimacy of the professional game.
In 1934, the team defeated the previously unbeaten
Chicago Bears30–13 at the Polo Groundson an icy field with temperatures peaking at 25 degrees. Before the game, team treasurer John Mara talked with coach Steve Owen and captain Ray Flahertyabout the field conditions. Flaherty suggested the Giants wear sneakers on the frozen field, as he had played in a game under similar circumstances at Gonzaga and the sneakers proved to be effective. [Anderson, Dave. [http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=FB0617FF3B5F0C728FDDAB0994DD484D81 Sports of the Times; Wellington Mara Looks Back] , "The New York Times", December 31, 1985, accessed June 4, 2007. ] Mara dispatched equipment manager Abe Cohen to get as many sneakers as he could get.Blauss, Bill. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/news/2001/03/29/sayitaintso_bears/ The Title Wars] , " Chicago Tribune", October 4, 1986, accessed January 2, 2007. ] Due to traffic and the inability to find any athletic goods stores open on Sunday, Cohen was unable to return before the game started and the Giants, wearing conventional footwear, trailed 10 to 3 at the end of the first half. Realizing time was short, Cohen went to Manhattan College—where he had a key to the equipment and locker rooms—and returned to the Polo Grounds at halftime with nine pairs of basketball sneakers, saying that "nine pairs was all I could get." Players donned the sneakers and the Giants, after allowing the Bears another field goal late in the third period, would respond with 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win their first NFL Championship game. The game would come to be known as "The Sneakers Game", and the 27 points the Giants scored in the fourth quarter set a single–quarter championship game scoring record that stood for decades. After the game offensive tackle Len Grantexpressed his sincere gratitude by stating simply "God bless Abe Cohen." [Gottehrer. pg. 123 ]
The Giants were unable to repeat as champions in 1935 as they fell to the Lions 26–7 in the NFL Championship game. The Lion staked a 13–0 lead before the Giants were able to cut the lead to 13–7 in the third quarter. However, the Lions defense helped their team score two late touchdowns with a blocked punt and an interception.
The Giants were so successful from the latter half of the 1930s until the United States entry into
World War II, that according to one publication, " [f] rom 1936 to 1941 the New York Giants annually fielded a collection of NFL all-stars." [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 113 ] They added their third NFL championship in 1938 with a 23–17 win over the Green Bay Packers. The game was a tightly contested affair with the Giants having ridden two blocked Green Bay punts to an early lead, before the Packers came back to take a 17–16 lead. However, in the fourth quarter Ed Danowskithrew a 23–yard touchdown pass to Hank Soar, and the Giants defense held the Packers scoreless.
The Giants made the championship game again the next year, and lost in a rematch to the Packers 31–16. They also advanced to the championship game in 1941, losing to the Bears 37–9. Both games were close early before their respective opponents went on an offensive surge to break the game open late. In 1944 the Giants reached the championship game where they faced the Green Bay Packers for the third time in ten seasons. They lost again, this time 14–7 as
Ted Fritschscored two touchdowns and the Packers defense was able to hold on to the lead despite a fourth quarter touchdown by the Giants. By 1946, Mara had given over complete control of the team to his two sons. Jack controlled the business aspects, while Wellington controlled the on-field operations. In 1946, the Giants again reached the Championship game, for the eighth time in 14 seasons, where they were beaten by the Sid Luckmanled Bears 24–14.
Before the 1948 season, the Giants signed
defensive back Emlen Tunnell, who became the first African Americanplayer in team history, and who would later become the first African American inducted into the Hall of Fame. [ Pellowski. pg. 28 ] They struggled from 1947 to 1949, never finishing above .500, but came back with a solid 10–2 record in 1950. However, they lost to the Cleveland Browns, who they had beaten twice in the regular season, 8–3 in the 1950 divisional playoff game. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1950 1950 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 20, 2007. ] In 1949, halfback Gene "Choo-Choo" Roberts scored a league high 17 touchdowns, [ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 216 ] and in 1950 he set a team record that would stand for over 50 years, when he rushed for 218 yards on November 12. Lichtenstein. pg. 142 ]
Following the 1953 season, an important transition in Giants history occurred. After being the team's coach for 23 years, Steve Owen was fired by Wellington and
Jack Mara, and replaced by Jim Lee Howell. Wellington later described the move by calling it "the hardest decision I'd ever made". [Schwartz. pg. 95 ] The Giants went 7–5 in 1954 under Howell. In their thirty-first and final season playing their home games at the Polo Grounds in 1955, they went 5–1–1 over their final seven games to finish 6–5–1. They were led by rejuvenated running back Frank Giffordwho played the entire season solely on offense for the first time in several years. [ Neft, Cohn, and Korch. pg. 254 ]
The Giants won their fourth NFL Championship in 1956. Playing their home games at Yankee Stadium for the first time, the Giants won the Eastern Division with an 8–3–1 record. In the NFL Championship Game on an icy field against the Chicago Bears, the Giants wore sneakers as they had 22 years previous. They dominated the Bears, winning 47–7. The 1956 Giants featured a number of future Hall of Fame players, including Gifford,
Sam Huffand Roosevelt Brown. Equally notable, the team featured as its coordinators future Hall of Fame head coaches Tom Landry(defense) and Vince Lombardi(offense).
The Greatest Game Ever Played: 1958
] -->The Giants had another successful year in 1958. They tied for the Eastern Division regular season title with a 9–3 record by defeating the Cleveland Browns 13-10 on the last day of the regular season on a last-second 49-yard field goal by Pat Summeral and beat the
Brownsagain a week later in a one game playoff to determine the division winner. [ [http://www.giants.com/photos/yby_54_60.pdf Year-by-Year results 1956-64] (PDF), giants.com, accessed May 27, 2007. ] They advanced to play the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship Game. [http://www.giants.com/history/ChampionshipGames1950present.asp Championship Games 1950-present] , giants.com, accessed January 12, 2007. ] This game, which would become known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", is considered a event in the history of the NFL and marked the beginning of the rise of football into the dominant sport in the American market.Barnidge, Tom. [http://www.nfl.com/insider/story/6032205 1958 Colts remember the 'Greatest Game'] , NFL.com, reprinted from Official Super Bowl XXXIIIGame Program, accessed March 21, 2007. ] [ Buckley Jr. pg. 10
* [http://www.nfl.com/news/981215nflchampionship.html "The Greatest Game Ever Played" remembered 40 years later] , NFL.com, December 15, 1998 accessed June 1, 2007. ] The game itself was highly competitive. The Giants got off to a quick 3–0 lead; however the Colts scored two touchdowns to take a 14–3 lead at halftime. [http://www.nfl.com/news/story/5706748 Dec. 28, 1958: A legend is born] ,
NFL.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ]
A defensive stop by the Giants in the third quarter was a turning point of the game. The Giants, who had trouble mounting many drives to that point, mounted a 95-yard drive after the stop which culminated in a touchdown, making the score 14-10. The Giants then drove again, with quarterback Charley Conerly throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Frank Gifford to take the lead, 17–14. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 272 ]
The Colts put together one last drive with less than two minutes left. The standout player was
wide receiver Raymond Berry, who caught three passes for 62 yards, the last one for 22 yards to the Giant 13-yard line. With seven seconds left in regulation, Steve Myhra kicked a 20-yard field goal to tie the score 17–17, sending a game to overtime for the first time in NFL history. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 272 ]
After winning the
coin tossand receiving the ball, the Giants offense stalled and was forced to punt. From their own 20, the Colts drove the ball down the field, with Alan Ameche finally scoring from the one yard line to give the championship to the Colts, 23–17.
More success: 1959-1963
The Giants success continued in the 1960s. They finished 9–3 in 1959 and faced the Colts in a championship game rematch. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1959 1959 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] They lost again, this time in a far less dramatic game, 31–16. Led by quarterback
YA Tittleand head coach Allie Sherman, the Giants won three consecutive Eastern Division titles from 1961–1963. In 1961 they were beaten by the Packers, 37–0. In 1962, they went into the championship game with a league best 12–2 record, and a nine–game winning streak; but lost to the Packers again, 16–7.
They finished with an 11–3 record in 1963, and faced the Bears in the NFL championship game. On an icy field in Chicago, the Giants defense played well, but the Bears newly invented zone defense intercepted YA Tittle five times, and battered him throughout the game. Sherman resisted calls from players such as
linebacker Sam Huffto replace the struggling Tittle. [ Schwartz. pg. 155 ] The Giants defense held the Bears in check, but they lost 14–10, their third straight NFL Championship Game defeat.
The Giants run of six championship game appearances in eight years combined with their large market location translated into financial success. By the early 1960s, the Giants were receiving $175,000 a game under the NFL's television contract with
CBS—four times as much as small-market Green Bay, which was one of the most successful teams of the era. However, in the league's new contract, the Maras convinced the other owners that it would be in the best interest of the NFL to share television revenue equally; a practice which is still current, and is credited with strengthening the league as a whole.
Wilderness years begin: 1964-1972
After the 1963 season, the team fell apart quickly. They finished 2–10–2 in 1964, beginning an 18-season playoff drought. This period in team history is often referred to as "the wilderness years". The team rebounded with a 7–7 record in 1965, before compiling a league-worst 1–12–1 record, and allowing over 500 points on defense in 1966. [http://www.databasefootball.com/leagues/leagueyear.htm?lg=nfl&yr=1966 1966 NFL Standings, Stats and Awards] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] This season also included a 72–41 loss to the rival
Washington Redskinsat D.C. Stadium in the highest-scoring game in league history. [Richman, Michael. [http://www.redskins.com/news/newsDetail.jsp?id=1053 '66 Redskins-Giants: Who Called Time Out?] , redskins.com, March 24, 2006, accessed May 26, 2007. ] Interest in the team was waning rapidly, especially with the rapid rise of the New York Jets, with their wide-open style of play and charismatic quarterback Joe Namath.
The Giants acquired quarterback
Fran Tarkentonfrom the Minnesota Vikingsbefore the 1967 season and quickly showed improvement. They finished 7–7 in 1967 and in 1968 they had a 7-3 record through ten games and trailed division leader Dallas by just one game. Unfortunately, New York dropped it's final four games to again finish at 7-7. Notably, in 1968, one of Tarkenton's favorite targets, wide receiver Homer Jones made the Pro Bowl. Through the 2007 season, no other Giants receiver has been selected for the Pro Bowl. [Eisen, Michael. [http://www.giants.com/news/eisen/story.asp?story_id=25578 Bradshaw Hopes to Prove Giants Right] , giants.com, March 21, 2007, accessed May 24, 2007. ] As of the completion of the 2007 season, Jones' average of 22.3 yards-per-reception for his career is still an N.F.L. record.
During the 1969 preseason, the Giants lost their first meeting with the Jets, 37–14, at the
Yale Bowlin New Haven, Connecticut. [Wallace, William M. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60816FC345E1B7493CAA81783D85F4D8685F9 Jets Beat Giants, 37-14; Namath Completes 14 of 16 Passes, 3 for Scores; BATTLE RETURNS PUNT FOR 86 YARDS 70,874 Fans See Jet Rookie Score in Yale Bowl -- Mathis Tallies Two Touchdowns] , "The New York Times", August 18, 1969, accessed March 18, 2007. ] Following the game, Wellington Mara fired coach Allie ShermanWeinraub, Bernard. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0B16FD3A5E1A7B93C1A81782D85F4D8685F9 Fans Show Mixed Emotions; Bad Trades Laid To Team's Pilot] , "The New York Times", September 13, 1969, accessed March 18, 2007. ] and replaced him with former Giants fullback Alex Webster. On opening day of the 1969 regular season, Tarkenton led the Giants to a 24–23 victory over his former team, the Vikings, by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The Giants finished 6–8 in the 1969 season. The Giants showed marked improvement in 1970. After an 0–3 start they rebounded to finish 9–5, [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1970 1970 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] narrowly missing the playoffs by losing their final game to the Los Angeles Rams. Tarkenton had one of his best seasons as a Giant and made his fourth straight Pro Bowl. Additionally, running back Ron Johnson also made the Pro Bowl and ran for 1,027 yards, becoming the first Giant to gain 1,000 yards rushing in a season.New York City Sports Commission. [http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/sports/html/giants_history.html Giants History] , ci.nyc.ny.us, accessed May 24, 2007. ]
In 1971, Johnson missed most of the season with a knee injury and the Giants dropped to 4–10, resulting in Tarkenton being traded back to the Vikings. The Giants rallied somewhat the following season to finish 8–6, behind veteran journeyman quarterback
Norm Snead(acquired in the trade for Tarkenton), who led the league in completion percentage and had his best season. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 532 ] After the 1972 season however, the Giants would suffer the flat-out worst prolonged stretches in their history.
Leaving New York: 1973-1978
Desiring their own home stadium, in 1973 the Giants reached an agreement with the
New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authorityto play their home games at a new, state-of-the-art, dedicated football stadium.Amdur, Neil. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0810F83C5A1A7493C2A8178BD95F428785F9 Pride of New Jersey: Stadium Designed for Comfort of Fans; Giants Stadium, Built for Comfort Of Fans, Is Pride of New Jersey] , "The New York Times", October 10, 1976, accessed May 12, 2007. ] The stadium, which would be known as Giants Stadium, was to be built at a new sports complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
As the complex was being built, and their current home at Yankee Stadium was being renovated, they would be without a home for three years. Their final full season at Yankee Stadium was 1972. After playing their first two games there in 1973, the Giants played the rest of their home games in 1973, as well as all of their home games in 1974, at the
Yale Bowlin New Haven, Connecticut. [http://www.giants.com/history/TheGiantsStadiums.asp The Giants Stadiums] , giants.com/history, accessed May 12, 2007. ] This was done primarily out of a desire to have their own home field, as opposed to having to share Shea Stadiumwith the Jets. [Sprechman and Shannon. pg. 286 ] However, between access problems, neighborhood issues, the fact that the Yale Bowl was not ideally suited for pro football (the stadium did not have lights, nor does it have lights today), the age of the stadium (it was built in 1914) and the lack of modern amenities, the Giants reconsidered their decision and ultimately agreed to share Shea Stadium with the Jets for the 1975 season. The Giants left the Yale Bowl after losing all seven home games played there in the 1974 season and compiling a home record of 1–11 over that two year stretch. [ [http://www.giants.com/photos/yby_73_78.pdf Year by Year results (1973-1978)] (PDF), giants.com/history, accessed May 12, 2007. ]
One of the bright spots in this era was
tight endBob Tucker who, from 1970 through 1977 was one of the top tight ends in the NFL. Tucker amassed 327 receptions, 4322 yards and 22 touchdowns during his years as a Giant.
] -->Despite their new home and heightened fan interest, the Giants still played subpar in 1976 and 1977. In 1978, the Giants started the year 5–6 [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1978 1978 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed
March 17, 2007. ] and played the Philadelphia Eaglesat home with a chance to solidify their playoff prospects. However, the season imploded on November 19, 1978, in one of the most improbable finishes in NFL history. The Giants were leading 17–12 and had possession of the ball with only 30 seconds left.Katz, Michael. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50716FE355C12728DDDA90A94D9415B888BF1D3 20 Seconds Left As Eagles Win; Jets Bow; Todd Reinjured] , "The New York Times", November 20, 1978, accessed March 18, 2007. ] They had only to kneel the ball to end the game, as the Eagles had no time outs. However, instead of kneeling the ball, offensive coordinatorBob Gibson ordered Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcikto hand the ball off to fullback Larry Csonka. Csonka was unprepared to receive the handoff, and the ball rolled off his hip and bounced free. Eagles safety Herman Edwardspicked up the loose ball and ran, untouched, for a score, giving the Eagles an improbable 19–17 victory. This play is referred to as "The Miracle in the Meadowlands" among Eagles fans, and "The Fumble" among Giants fans.
In the aftermath of the defeat, Gibson was fired, and the Giants lost three out of their last four games to finish out of the playoffs for the 15th straight season, leading them to let coach
John McVaygo as well. However, following the 1978 season came the steps that would, in time, lead the Giants back to the pinnacle of the NFL.
Building a champion: 1979-1985
The Giants decided to hire a General Manager for the first time in franchise history following the 1978 season.Anderson, Dave. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE1DD133FF936A15752C0A961948260 Sports of the Times; Ten Giant Steps to Superdom] , "The New York Times", January 25, 1987, accessed March 22, 2008. ] However, the search grew contentious and severely fractured the relationship between owners Wellington and Tim Mara. Finally, the Maras asked NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to step in with a recommendation. Rozelle recommended George Young,Goldberg, Hank. [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/giants/2005-10-25-mara-obit_x.htm Giants owner Wellington Mara dies at age 89] , "
USA Today", October 25, 2005, accessed March 21, 2007. ] who worked in personnel for the Miami Dolphinsand had been an assistant coach for the Baltimore Colts. Young was hired; however the rift between the Maras lasted for several years. [ [http://www.patriots.com/mediacenter/index.cfm?ac=audionewsdetail&pid=13514&pcid=85 Belichick Press Conference] , patriots.com, October 26, 2005, accessed March 21, 2007. ]
Ray Perkinsas head coach, and drafted unknown quarterback Phil Simmsfrom Morehead State Universityto the surprise of many.Katz, Michael. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00615FE3F5D12728DDDAC0894DD405B898BF1D3 Giants Defend 'Value' in Choice of Simms; Perkins Optimistic Giants Selections] , "The New York Times", May 5, 1979, accessed May 24, 2007. ] The Giants continued to struggle, finishing 6–10 in 1979 and 4–12 in 1980. With the second overall draft pick in the 1981 draft, the Giants drafted linebacker Lawrence Taylor. The impact that Taylor had on the Giants' defense was immediate. [http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/nflrookies.html LT best NFL rookie of all time] , espn.com, accessed February 3, 2007. ] He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, becoming to date the only rookie to ever win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. His arrival raised the Giants linebacker corps—which already included future Hall of Famer Harry Carsonand Brad Van Pelt—into one of the NFL's best. It also predicated the Giants transformation from allowing 425 points in 1980 to 257 in 1981. The Giants went 9–7, [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1981 1981 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] and defeated the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs 27–21. They then lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers38–24. In the strike shortened 1982 season, the Giants lost their first two games before the strike and after first game upon returning. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1982 1982 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] They won their next three games to even their record at 3–3. However, they lost their next two games to effectively knock themselves out of the playoffs, despite defeating the Eagles in the season finale. Lawrence Taylor remained a bright spot, again winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Perkins left the Giants after the 1982 season to become head coach of the University of Alabama. Young chose Bill Parcells, the Giants' defensive coordinator, as the team's new head coach.
Parcells first year proved difficult. In his first major decision, he selected Brunner over Simms at quarterback. At first it appeared Parcells' decision was justified, especially after a 27–3 victory over the Green Bay Packers gave the Giants a 2–2 record after four games. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1983 1983 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] However, the Giants then lost all but one of their final 12 games. Parcells ignored fans' protests and stuck with Brunner for most of the year, although
Jeff Rutledgesaw considerable late-season action. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 766 ] Finally, in a game against the Eagles, he brought Simms back to thunderous fan applause, only to see him suffer a season–ending hand injury. Despite their record the Giants were competitive in many of their losses and Young ignored calls to fire Parcells.
Simms won the starting job back for the 1984 season and Brunner was released. The Giants experienced a resurgence, highlighted by a midseason stretch where they won five out of six games. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1984 1984 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] Despite losing their last two games to finish 9–7 they still made the playoffs. In the first round, they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 16–13 before losing, 21–10, to the eventual Super Bowl champion
San Francisco 49ers. Simms threw for 4,044 yards, making him the first Giant to pass for 4,000 yards in a season.
The Giants continued their success by going 10–6 in 1985. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1985 1985 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] The defense carried the team and led the NFL in sacks with 68. They won their first round playoff game, 17–3 over the defending champion 49ers. [http://www.databasefootball.com/leagues/leagueyear.htm?lg=nfl&yr=1985 1985 NFL Standings, Stats and Awards] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] In the divisional playoffs they were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl champion
Chicago Bears21–0. Many of the players that would play key roles on the Giants Super Bowl teams emerged in 1985. Joe Morris became the feature back, running for 1,338 yards, scoring 21 touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl. Rookie receiver Lionel Manuelled the Giants with 49 catches, and tight end Mark Bavaro, another rookie, had 37 catches. Simms threw every pass for the Giants for the second consecutive season, and passed for over 3,800 yards. Defensive end Leonard Marshallrecorded 15.5 sacks, and Taylor added 13.
Back on top: 1986-1990
1986: Super Bowl Champions
The Giants entered the 1986 season as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. [McClain, John. [http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=1986_459551 Looking ahead/The Bears appear to be an easy pick to repeat, but the Orange is ready to apply a Giant Crush] , "
Houston Chronicle", September 4, 1986, accessed March 28, 2007. ] They had their first test in a Monday Night game against the defending Eastern division champion Dallas Cowboys. They lost at Texas Stadium31–28. However, they won their next 5 in a row and 14 of their last 15, to finish the season with a 14–2 record. One of the signature plays of the season occurred during a Monday Night game in December. Here is a description of the play taken from a " Monday Night Football" broadcast in 2005: "On Dec. 1 1986...with the Giants trailing, (Mark) Bavaro catches an innocent pass from Phil Simms over the middle. It takes nearly seven 49ers defenders to finally drag him down, some of which are carried for almost 20 yards, including future Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. Bavaro’s inspiring play jump starts the Giants, who win the game and eventually the Super Bowl." [ [http://media.espn.com/MediaZone/PressKits/NFL2005/MNF_list.htm MNF 36: The List Monday Night Football Special (Original Air Date: Aug. 25, 2005)] , ESPN.com, accessed January 3, 2007. ] ] -->The Giants defense allowed only 236 points during the season, second fewest in the NFL [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/leagues/leagueyear.htm?lg=nfl&yr=1986 1986 NFL Standings, Stats and Awards] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] and Taylor set a single–season team record with 20.5 sacks. In addition to winning an unprecedented third Defensive Player of the Year Award, Taylor was also named NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) by the Associated Press. [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1986 1986 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ]
The Giants hosted the 49ers in the Divisional Playoffs and won easily, 49–3. [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1986 1986 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] They then shut out the Redskins 17–0 in the NFC Championship Game at Giants Stadium. The Giants advanced to play the
Denver Broncosin Super Bowl XXIin front of 101,063 fans at the Rose Bowl. After falling behind 10–9 at halftime, [ [http://www.superbowl.com/history/recaps/game/sbxxi Super Bowl XXI] NFL.com/history, accessed March 20, 2007. ] the Giants defeated the Broncos 39–20. Simms was named MVP after completing 22 of 25 (88%) of his passes—a Super Bowl record.
The Giants lost their first two games before the 1987 players strike. Unlike the players strike five years previous, NFL owners made a decision to go forward with replacement players. The Giants lost all three replacement games, putting their record at 0–5 before the strike was over and the regular players returned. [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1987 1987 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] Though the Giants went 6–4 over their final 10 games, they finished out of the playoffs at 6–9. Bright spots for the season included tight end Mark Bavaro, who led the team in catches with 55, and three of the Giants linebackers making the Pro Bowl—
Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banksand Harry Carson. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 846 ]
The Giants 1988 season got off to a rough start with an offseason scandal involving Taylor. Taylor had abused
cocaineviolating the NFL's substance abuse policy and was suspended for the first four games of the season. [ Neft, Cohn, and Korch. pg. 874 ] Taylor's over the edge lifestyle was becoming an increasing concern for fans and team officials. However after his return Taylor played at his normal All-Pro level, recording 15.5 sacks in 12 games. The intense worry and scrutiny would prove to be for naught as for the rest of his career Taylor avoided suspension and passed his drug tests.
Predictably, the Giants started the season struggling. Taylor's absence, combined with a difficult early schedule had them alternating wins and losses through their first six games. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1988 1988 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ] However with Taylor back and playing well, they were able to win their next four games. After two straight losses, the Giants won their next three games to set up a win-or-go-home game against the New York Jets in the season finale. The Jets defeated the Giants 27–21. When the 49ers lost to the Rams the following night, the Giants were out of the postseason despite a 10–6 record.
The Giants' 12–4 record in 1989 was the NFC's second best. [http://nfl.com/history/standings/1989 NFL History:1989 NFL Standings] , NFL.com/history, accessed March 18, 2007. ] They lost their divisional playoff game in overtime to the Rams 19–13. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1989 1989 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ] The highlight of the game was wide receiver
Flipper Andersoncatch of the game winning touchdown pass. After catching the ball, Anderson made a long run to the endzone, silencing the crowd in attendance. In 1989, free agent acquisition Ottis Andersonran for 1,023 yards and caught 28 passes. Dave Meggettalso emerged as a threat on third downs and special teams, catching 34 passes for 531 yards and making the Pro Bowl.
1990: Champions again
The Giants won their first 10 games of the 1990 season, setting a record for the best start in the team's history.Litsky, Frank. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE5DE1330F93AA25752C1A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all Giants Stay Perfect] , "The New York Times", November 19, 1990, accessed March 22, 2008. ] The San Francisco 49ers also got off to a strong start, matching the Giants with their own 10–0 start. Although both teams lost their next game, their week 13 matchup was still eagerly anticipated. The Giants held the 49ers vaunted offense to only seven points. However, they scored only three, and suffered their second straight loss 7–3. [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1990 1990 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ]
The Giants won the following week against the
Minnesota Vikingsbefore facing the Buffalo Billsin their regular season home finale. Despite holding the Bills' powerful offense to 17 points and dominating them in time of possession, [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/boxscores/gamedata.htm?dy=15&mth=12&yr=1990&tm=NYG&lg=NFL NFL Box Score for 12/15/1990] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 15, 2007. ] the Giants lost 17–13, for their third loss in four games. To compound the Giants' problems, Simms went down with an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the year. His replacement, Jeff Hostetler, was an unproven career backup who had only thrown 68 passes in his career.
The Giants won their final two games to secure a 13–3 record, and the playoff bye as the NFC's second seed. They defeated the Chicago Bears, 31–3 in the divisional playoff round, setting up a rematch with the 49ers in San Francisco for the NFC Championship. As they had in Week 12, the Giants defense held San Francisco's offense in check. In the game's waning moments
Erik Howardcaused a Roger Craigfumble, and Taylor recovered it. [Associated Press. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8914214/wid/6448213/page/2/ Pats not talking about drive for third straight] , msnbc.com, August 13, 2005, accessed January 31, 2007. ] The Giants drove down the field, and in the game's last play, Bahr hit a 42–yard field goal to defeat the 49ers 15–13. [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 934 ]
The win set up another rematch, this time in the Super Bowl against the Bills.
uper Bowl XXV
Super Bowl XXVtook place amidst a background of war and patriotism. The Persian Gulf Warhad begun less than two weeks previous and the nation rallied around the Super Bowl as a symbol of America. The Giants got off to a quick 3–0 lead, Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 935 ] however, the Bills scored the next 12 points. The Giants responded by running a nearly eight minute drive, which culminated in a 14 yard touchdown pass from Hostetler to Stephen Baker. [http://www.superbowl.com/history/recaps/game/sbxxv Super Bowl XXV] , NFL.com/history, accessed April 13, 2007. ]
The Giants received the second half kickoff and mounted a record-setting drive. The opening drive ran for over nine minutes (a Super Bowl record) and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Ottis Anderson, giving the Giants a 17–12 lead. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Bills'
Thurman Thomasran for a 31-yard touchdown that put the Bills back in front, 19-17. A few possessions later, the Giants drove down to the Bills 4 yard line and kicked a 21-yard field goal which gave them a 20–19 lead. Both teams exchanged possessions before the Bills began one final drive, driving down to the Giants 30 yard line to set up what would be a potentially game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt by Scott Norwood. In what would become the game's signature moment, Norwood's attempt missed wide right, and the Giants won their second Super Bowl, 20–19.
End of an era
The 1990 season marked the end of an era. Shortly after the Super Bowl, defensive coordinator
Bill Belichickleft to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Parcells also decided to leave the Giants in the spring of 1991 to pursue a career in broadcasting. In addition, there was an ownership change in what had been one of the most stable front offices in professional sports. In February 1991, Tim Mara was diagnosed with Cancer,Burke, Monte. [http://www.forbes.com/2003/08/29/cz_mb_0829giants.html Turning $500 Into A $573 Million NFL Team] , forbes.com, August 29, 2003, accessed June 1, 2007. ] and he sold his 50% interest in the team to Bob Tisch for a reported $80 million. [Eskenazi, Gerald. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE6D71E3FF931A15751C0A967958260 footBALL; Tisch Doesn't Plan to Be A Figurehead for Giants] , "The New York Times", February 22, 1991, accessed March 22, 2008. ] This marked the first time since their inception in 1925 that the Giants had not been wholly owned and controlled by the Mara family. [http://www.giants.com/history/TeamHistory.html History of the New York Giants] , giants.com/history, accessed May 24, 2007. ]
After Parcells - The Handley era
Following the departure of Parcells and Belichick—who many people saw as the likely successor to Parcells—the surprise choice as head coach was running backs coach
Ray Handley. Handley, however, was a somewhat reluctant coach, whose approach stood in stark contrast to the passionate and emotional style employed by Parcells.Litsky, Frank. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE7DB1F31F932A05751C1A964958260 PRO FOOTBALL; Handley's Unhappy Reign Is Brought to an End] , "The New York Times", December 31, 1992, accessed March 22, 2008. ]
As with Parcells eight years previous, one of Handley's first major decisions involved replacing Phil Simms as starting quarterback.
Jeff Hostetler, who had led the Giants to a win in the Super Bowl, was named the team's starter. Though the Giants won their opening game in an NFC Championship Game rematch against the San Francisco 49ers 16–14, [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1991 1991 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 20, 2007. ] they lost three out of their next four games to drop to 2–3. Though they rallied to finish the season 8–8, and Simms reclaimed his starting job later in the year, the excitement that surrounded the Giants the previous year was gone. One of the few promising young players to emerge on the team was second–year running back Rodney Hampton, who led the Giants in rushing with 1,059 yards.
Through the 1991 season it was clear that the team's core players on defense had aged quickly. This deterioration continued in 1992, when Lawrence Taylor ruptured his
achilles tendonin the team's tenth game,Anderson, Dave. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE7DB123FF935A25752C1A964958260 Sports of the Times; Life Without L.T. Begins, and Giants Find It a Struggle] , "The New York Times", November 16, 1992, accessed March 22, 2008. ] and the Giants promptly lost six out of their last seven games to finish the year 6–10. [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1992 1992 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] The defense continued its descent, finishing 26th in the league in points allowed after leading the league in that category in 1990. Handley, who had become highly unpopular with both players and fans, was fired after the end of the regular season.
Dan Reeves takes over
Handley was replaced by
Dan Reeves, the successful former head coach of the Denver Broncoswho led the Broncos to three Super Bowls in four years, one against the Giants. After his dismissal from the Broncos, Reeves took the unusual step of lobbying heavily for the job. After being publicly rebuffed by a number of candidates, [Anderson, Dave. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE0D91338F933A15752C0A965958260 Sports of The Times; Third Down, Coach to Go For Giants] , "The New York Times", January 20, 1993, accessed March 22, 2008. ] George Young was pleased that someone with Reeves's credentials clearly wanted the job.
The impact Reeves had was immediate. As Bill Parcells had done in 1984, Reeves named Phil Simms as his starting quarterback. The defense returned to form and allowed more than 20 points only once all season. [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1993 1993 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 26, 2007. ] With two games to go, the Giants were 11–3 and appeared poised for an Eastern Division championship and a first round bye. However, they were upset by Phoenix, 17–6, in the next to last week of the season, setting up a winner–take–all game against the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale. Though the Giants played well, it was
Emmitt Smith's memorable performance with a separated shoulder that led the Cowboys to a 16–13 overtime win, [Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 980 ] giving the Cowboys a sweep of the season series. Despite the loss, the Giants made the playoffs as a Wild Card and won their first round matchup 17–10 over the Minnesota Vikings. However, they were soundly defeated by the San Francisco 49ers 44–3 in the second round. Simms played in all 16 games, completing nearly 62% of his passes, and throwing for over 3,000 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Simms, Hampton, offensive linemen Jumbo Elliot and center Bart Oatesall made the Pro Bowl. [ [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyg1993.htm 1993 New York Giants] , pro-football-reference.com, accessed March 24, 2007. ] In addition, Reeves was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press. After the season, Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms, the two biggest figures of the late 1980s and early 1990s Giants teams, retired.
Before the 1994 season Reeves named Dave Brown, who had been a No. 1 supplemental draft choice in 1992, as the Giants' new starting quarterback. Though Brown led the Giants to wins in their first three games of the season, [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1994 1994 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 20, 2007. ] the Giants lost their next seven games. They recovered and won their last six games of the season to finish 9–7. During that stretch they never allowed more than 20 points in a game. Standout players included Rodney Hampton, who had his fourth straight 1,000 yard rushing season; [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=HAMPTROD01 Rodney Hampton] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 20, 2007. ] linebackers
Jessie Armsteadand Michael Brooks, and second-year defensive lineman Michael Strahan.
In 1995 the Giants regressed and finished the season with a 5–11 record. Much of the blame for the Giants' poor performance was placed on Brown. Brown did not inspire fans' or teammates confidence and put up lackluster numbers. Though the Giants defense still played well, and Strahan and Armstead were emerging as elite defensive players, the Giants inspired tepid interest league-wide and sent no players to the Pro Bowl for the second straight year. [ [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyg1995.htm 1995 New York Giants] , pro-football-reference.com, accessed March 22, 2007. ]
The Giants suffered through another poor season in 1996, finishing 6–10. Though Brown again started every game for the Giants he turned in one of the worst seasons of any starting quarterback in the league, throwing for only 12 touchdowns against 20 interceptions. [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=BROWNDAV05 Dave Brown] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ] The Giants offense was one of the worst in the NFL and, unlike in previous years, the defense was unable to carry the team. After missing the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, Reeves was fired. [Anderson, Dave. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E0DE1331F931A15751C1A960958260 'It Hasn't Worked Out' For Reeves] , "The New York Times", December 22, 1996, accessed March 22, 2008. ]
Jim Fassel era
The Giants hired former
Arizona Cardinalsoffensive coordiantor Jim Fasselas their head coach before the 1997 season. One of Fassel's first decisions was to name inexperienced Danny Kanellas the starting quarterback. The Giants experienced a resurgent season, finishing 10–5–1, and winning the NFC East. [ [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1997 1997 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ] They hosted a first–round game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Giants led the Vikings for most of the game but, the Vikings kicked a late field goal to win, 23–22. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1997 1997 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ] Following the season George Young left the Giants. He was replaced by Ernie Accorsi, a veteran General Manager who had successful stints building the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns. [Mizell, Hubert. [http://www.sptimes.com/News/012201/SuperBowl2001/Don_t_mistake_where_A.shtml Don’t mistake where Accorsi’s rooting interest is] , " St. Petersburg Times", January 22, 2001, accessed March 20, 2007. ]
The Giants regressed to an 8–8 record in 1998. The Giants strength during the season was their defense, which featured two Pro Bowlers in Armstead and Strahan. However, the offense continued to struggle. Brown had been released before the season and replaced by Kanell and
Kent Graham. However, neither quarterback provided Pro Bowl caliber play. Before the 1999 season, the Giants signed quarterback Kerry Collins. Collins had been the first–ever draft choice of the Carolina Panthersand in his second season led them to the NFC Championship game. However, problems with alcohol abuse, conflicts with his teammates, and questions about his character led to his release from the Panthers. Although many people seriously questioned the wisdom of Accorsi and the Giants giving Collins a $16.9 million contract,Pompei, Dan. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_10_223/ai_54117608 Collins is a low–risk signing for the QB–starved Giants - Kerry Collins signs with New York Giants; Nolan Harrison; related NFL news] , " The Sporting News", March 8, 1999, accessed March 20, 2007. ] Accorsi was confident in Collins abilities.
In 1999, Tiki Barber emerged as a solid pass–catching running back, catching 66 passes. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=1999 1999 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 18, 2007. ]
Amani Toomeralso had a breakout season, accumulating over 1100 yards receiving and six touchdowns, and Ike Hilliard finished just shy of 1000 yards receiving. The defense rebounded, ranking 11th in the league, and Armstead and Strahan again were selected to the Pro Bowl. Though the Giants stood at 7–6 and poised for a playoff berth, they lost their final three games to miss the playoffs.
2000: Super Bowl season
The 2000 season was considered a make-or-break year for Fassel. The conventional wisdom was that Fassel needed to have a strong year and a playoff appearance to save his job. After two back-to-back losses at home against the
St. Louis Ramsand Detroit Lions, the Giants fell to 7–4 [http://pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyg2000.htm|title=2000 New York Giants] , pro-football-reference.com, March 21, 2007. ] and their playoff prospects were in question. At a press conference following the Giants' loss to Detroit, Fassel guaranteed that " [t] his team is going to the playoffs." [Rhoden, William C. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05EEDC163DF934A15752C1A9669C8B63 Sports of The Times; With Season at Crossroads, Fassel Dares His Team] , "The New York Times", November 27, 2000, accessed March 22, 2008. ] The Giants responded, winning the next week's game against Arizona and the rest of their regular season games to finish the season 12–4 and earn a bye as the NFC's top seed.
The Giants won their first playoff game against the Eagles 20–10, and then defeated the Vikings 41–0 in the NFC Championship game. They advanced to play the
Baltimore Ravensin Super Bowl XXXV. Though the Giants kept the game close early, and went into halftime down only 10–0, [http://www.superbowl.com/history/recaps/game/sbxxxv Super Bowl XXXV recap] , NFL.com, accessed May 12, 2007. ] the Ravens dominated the second half. The Ravens defense harassed Collins all game long, and he had one of the worst games in Super Bowl history. Collins completed only 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards and four interceptions, and the Ravens won the game 34–7. The Giants only score came on a Ron Dixon kickoff return for a touchdown. On the very next kickoff, the Ravens' Jermaine Lewis also returned a kickoff for a score.
The Giants were unable to build on their Super Bowl success in 2001, finishing the season 7–9 [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=2001 2001 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 20, 2007. ] and out of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Kerry Collins continued to have success as the Giants' starting quarterback, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 19 TDs. In addition, Strahan set an NFL record by recording 22.5 sacks during the season. [Associated Press. [http://espn.go.com/nfl/news/2002/0106/1306705.html Strahan breaks Gastineau's 17-year-old record] , espn.com, January 7, 2001, accessed March 22, 2007. ] In 2002, Collins had one of the best seasons of his career, throwing for over 4,000 yards, [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=2002 2002 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] and Tiki Barber rushed for 1,386 yards and caught 69 passes for 597 yards. Rookie tight end
Jeremy Shockeycontributed 74 catches for 894 yards. The Giants started the season 6-6, but won their last four games to finish 10–6 and qualify for the playoffs.
In their first round playoff game they built a 38–14 lead against the 49ers.Associated Press. [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recapPlayoff2002?gameId=230105025 Garcia, 49ers erase 24-point deficit] , espn.com, January 5, 2003, accessed March 22, 2007. ] However, the 49ers rallied, scoring a field goal and three touchdowns which gave them a 39–38 lead with a minute left in the game. Collins then drove the Giants down to the 49ers 23-yard line with six seconds to play, setting up what would be a 41-yard potentially game winning field goal attempt. However, 40-year old long snapper
Trey Junkin—who had just been signed for this playoff game—snapped the ball low and punter Matt Allen could not spot the ball properly for the attempt. Allen picked the ball up and threw an unsuccessful pass downfield to offensive lineman Rich Seubertas time expired and the Giants lost 39–38.
The Giants started the 2003 season 4–4, [http://databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=2003 2003 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 17, 2007. ] but lost their final eight games. With two games remaining in the season, Fassell requested a meeting with team management, and asked, if he was to be fired, that they do so now rather than wait until the end of the season.Associated Press. [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=1688484 Fassel wants another coaching job] , espn.com, December 19, 2003, accessed March 23, 2007. ] Management complied with his request, and formally fired Fassel on (or around) December 17, 2003. However, they let him coach the final two games of the season.
Eli Manning era: 2004-Present
Eli Manning arrives
After a brief search, Accorsi hired former
Jacksonville Jaguarscoach Tom Coughlinto be the Giants new Head Coach. Coughlin was considered a hard-nosed disciplinarian, in stark contrast to the departed Fassel whose lenient style was often criticized in his last seasons with the club. [Pennington, Bill. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C03E3DA1031F934A35752C0A9629C8B63 PRO FOOTBALL; A Strict Colonel Tom Is What's Necessary] , "The New York Times", January 7, 2004, accessed March 22, 2008.
* [http://story.scout.com/a.z?s=123&p=2&c=213726 NYG Team Report] , scout.com, December 16, 2003, accessed May 24, 2007.
* Lahman, Sean. [http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:ArticleToMail&Type=text/html&Path=NYS/2004/07/29&ID=Ar02400 Looking Up: 2004 Giants Head into Training Camp] , "
The New York Sun", July 29, 2004, accessed May 26, 2007. ] Before the season, Accorsi coveted quarterback Eli Manning, brother of Peyton and son of Archie, in the 2004 NFL Draft. Manning, who had indicated before the draft that he did not want to play for the Chargers (who drafted him #1 overall),Magee, Jerry. [http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20050921-9999-1s21manning1.html Nothing personal, San Diego; Eli Manning just did not want to be a Charger] , " San Diego Union-Tribune", September 21, 2005, accessed March 21, 2007. ] forced a trade to the Giants. After the trade, Kerry Collinsexpressed his displeasure with the Giant's drafting a new franchise quarterback and was released. The team later signed veteran quarterback Kurt Warner. The plan was for Warner to serve as the starting quarterback in the interim, while Manning was groomed to ultimately take over the starting job. [Zinser, Lynn. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E07E4D9103CF931A25756C0A9629C8B63 FOOTBALL; Giants Check Out Warner. Warner Checks Out Giants.] , "The New York Times", May 12, 2004, accessed March 22, 2008. ]
After losing to the Eagles in the 2004 season opener, the Giants, with Warner at quarterback, won five of their next six games to go 5–2. [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=nfl&yr=2004 2004 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 21, 2007. ] They subsequently lost two close games, to the Bears and Cardinals, to drop to 5–4. Coughlin then announced that Manning would be the starter for the rest of the season. Manning struggled in his first four starts, and the Giants did not score more than 14 points in any game. However, Manning performed better in narrow losses to the
Pittsburgh Steelersand the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants won their final game of the season against rival Dallas, to finish the season 6–10. A top performer for the Giants in 2004 was Tiki Barber who established a personal career high in rushing yardage with 1,518 yards; he also had 52 catches and a total of 15 touchdowns—13 rushing, and two receiving.
2005: NFC East champions again
The Giants started 4–2 in 2005, [http://www.databasefootball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=NYG&lg=NFL&yr=2005 2005 New York Giants] , databasefootball.com, accessed March 16, 2007. ] then on October 25, Giants patriarch
Wellington Maradied after a brief illness at the age of 89.Goldstein, Richard. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/sports/football/26mara.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5090&en=49d8f1309ac476c1&ex=1287982800 Wellington Mara, the Patriarch of the N.F.L., Dies at 89] , "The New York Times", October 26, 2005, accessed April 17, 2007. ] Mara had been involved with the Giants since he was nine years old, when he was a ballboyfor the Giants. Except a tour of duty in the military during World War II, Mara spent his entire adult life with the Giants. The Giants honored Mara by shutting out their NFC East Rival Washington Redskins36-0 on October 30. Just twenty days after Mara's death, on November 15, the other Giants Executive Officer Bob Tisch died at the age of 79. The New York Giants honored Tisch by defeating fellow NFC East Rival Philadelphia Eagles27–17 on November 20. On December 17, 2005, in their 27–17 home victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tiki Barber set a new team single game rushing yard record with 220 yards. [Associated Press. [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=251217019 Tiki torches Chiefs in Giants' win] , espn.com, December 17, 2005, accessed March 21, 2007. ] The Giants finished 11–5, and hosted the Carolina Panthersin the playoffs but were shut-out 23-0. On September 29, 2005, the Giants, Jets, and New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority, announced an agreement to build a new stadium, which is projected to be ready for the 2009 season.
The Giants regressed to an 8–8 season in 2006. The season featured inconsistent play, criticism of the coaching by the media and players, and inconsistent play from Manning. [Branch, John. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F01E2DF1030F937A25752C0A9619C8B63&n=Top/News/Sports/Pro%20Football/National%20Football%20League/New%20York%20Giants PRO FOOTBALL; After All That Turmoil, the Giants Now Seem Likely to Stay the Course] , "The New York Times", January 14, 2007, accessed March 22, 2008. ] The Giants won five consecutive games following a 1–2 start [http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/teams/schedule?team=nyg 2006 New York Giants Schedule] , espn.com, accessed March 21, 2007. ] to gain a two-game advantage in the NFC Eastern Division, but then key injuries to the offense and defense took their toll. Frustrations with the lack of production and with head coach
Tom Coughlinsurfaced as the Giants lost six of seven games in the second half the season. One of the team's most disappointing losses was a 24–21 defeat to Tennessee, in which the team surrendered a 21-point fourth-quarter advantage. Following a season-ending win at Washington, the Giants claimed a wildcard berth in the NFC playoffs, but were defeated in the first round by Philadelphia.
Tiki Barber led the Giants with 1,662 yards rushing and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, [ [http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=3937 Tiki Barber] , espn.com, accessed March 21, 2007. ] Eli Manning threw for 3,244 yards and 24 touchdowns and Jeremy Shockey led the team in receptions. [http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/teams/stats?team=nyg 2006 New York Giants player stats] , espn.com, accessed March 21, 2007. ] Defensively the team struggled all season long with pass defense (28th in the league) and with gaining a consistent pass rush (tied for 23rd in the league). [ espn.com, [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/statistics?stat=teampass&pos=def&league=nfl&season=2&year=2006 NFL Team Passing Stats: 2006] , accessed May 24, 2007.
* espn.com, [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/statistics?stat=teampass&sort=sack&pos=def&league=nfl&season=2&year=2006 NFL Team Sacks Stats: 2006] , accessed May 24, 2007. ]
New York Giants seasons
Logos and Uniforms of the New York Giants
List of New York Giants players
* [http://www.giants.com/history/index.html giants.com/history]
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