Now we come to the real dramatic ones, not the teams we see only every four years. These are the heated rivalries, and while with the AFC I had trouble coming up with games, here I have trouble getting rid of games.
Like before, I have included positive moments for big blue as well as negative.
2007 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: Jerry Jones sent tickets to his players for next week’s NFC Championship Game a few days before this game. Hopefully he didn’t go through Ticketmaster, because they were unusable.
Eli Manning led two impressive drives, one with under two minutes in the first half, and Brandon Jacobs scored the game winning touchdown as the Giants upset Big D in the only playoff matchup between the two.
WEEK ONE, 1995 SEASON: The Giants came into the year with head coach Dan Reeves stating the goal was to go 11-5 and challenge the Cowboys for the division crown. Those hopes were pretty much dashed on the Cowboys’ third play from scrimmage, as Emmitt Smith broke through for a touchdown in a 35-0 rout.
WEEK TWO, 2006 SEASON: There is almost nothing worse than trailing the Eagles 24-7. But there’s almost nothing better than coming back against the Eagles in the second half to win 30-24 in overtime. That’s just what big blue did in Philly in what just might have saved their season.
2008 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: There wasn’t enough alcohol in the world that could have satisfied me after this game.
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 1986 SEASON: The Giants shutout the Redskins 17-0 to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl. The defense shut down quarterback Jay Schroeder and finished the conference playoffs having only surrendered three points.
1990 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: The teams played many classic games back in the days of black and white television. That’s partially the reason why I chose to do the modern era. The Giants hammered Chicago 31-3 behind backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler and Bill Parcells, changing his usual 3-4 defense to four down linemen.
1985 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: This game might have proved instrumental in the Giants’ Super Bowl win next year. Phil Simms was interviewed as saying that the Giants thought they were an intense team, but learned they weren’t as intense as Chicago.
After the game, Bill Parcells said, “This will not happen next year.” The game is most memorable for punter Sean Landeta muffing a kick in his end zone, which the Bears converted into what was written as a five-yard punt return touchdown.
WEEK FOUR, 1982 SEASON: Due to the players’ strike, this was the annual Thanksgiving game. Tied 6-6, Lawrence Taylor intercepted a pass and returned it for the game winning touchdown. The game was also memorable for Taylor grabbing quarterback Gary Danielson by his jersey and wrestling him down with one hand.
WEEK 12, 2000 SEASON: In the game that resulted in Jim Fassel’s poker game guarantee, the Giants were simply outplayed all day by a pre-Matt Millen led Lions team.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
2007 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
One of the most memorable conference championship games in history. The Giants squandered—or rather kicker Lawrence Tynes squandered—opportunities to put the cheese heads away, until Brett Favre threw a costly interception deep in Packer territory.
Sometimes, the third time really is the charm.
WEEK 17 2001 SEASON: This was a Packers victory, but the game is mostly remembered for a great moment in Giants history. Late in the game, Michael Strahan sacked Brett Favre (or did Favre simply dive?) to set the record for most sacks in a regular season.
The Pack won 34-25, but any highlights of this game would be all focused on Strahan.
As far as the dive goes, I think Favre simply got scared you-know-what-less by Strahan and stumbled.
2000 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: It’s interesting to reflect on just how many memorable games these two teams have played. In fact, they might be their biggest non-divisional rivals. The Giants would avenge a wild card loss (see below) in a rout—no, more like a stomp—by the score of 41-0.
Kerry Collins threw five touchdown passes and the Giants had already scored two touchdowns by the time the Vikings offense first stepped onto the field.
1997 WILD CARD GAME: Yet another lost led by the Giants, this one was 19-7 in a snow flurry covered game. Former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham rallied the Vikes for coach Dennis Green’s first playoff victory with a 23-22 win.
WEEK SIX 1998 SEASON: Former Giants coach Dan Reeves returned with his new team in a season that would culminate in the Falcons winning the NFC. In front of a prime-time audience, Chris Chandler would lead the birds to a 34-20 victory.
WEEK 6 2007 SEASON: Eli Manning passed for 303 yards and the team ran for 188 yards, as the Giants won their fourth straight game with a 31-10 Monday night win over Atlanta. The win marked the franchise’s 600th win.
WEEK 16, 2008 SEASON: With home field advantage on the line (which didn’t do well for either team), the Panthers jumped out to an early lead on the road. But the Giants rallied behind Derrick Ward’s running and took the game in overtime, 34-28.
2005 WILD CARD GAME: Eli Manning’s first playoff game would be one to forget, as he threw four interceptions and the Giants were shut out at home by a score of 23-0.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
WEEK THREE, 2001 SEASON: It was the first Giants home game after Sept. 11. I was in attendance at this game, and can tell you that there was definitely something different in the air at this one. The defense was the key, as they rolled over New Orleans 21-13.
WEEK 16 2006 SEASON: The Saints acted like the Grinch on Christmas Eve at the Meadowlands by torching the Giants for a 30-7 win. The game wasn’t even that close, as the Giants just seemed stifled and confused all day long.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2007 WILD CARD GAME: Bucs safety Ronde Barber took a cue from his brother Tiki in trashing Eli Manning before the game. And as with Tiki, Eli would make Ronde eat his words, as the Giants earned their first of four wins that Super Bowl season.
WEEK 13, 1979 SEASON: The eventual NFC Central champs dominated the Giants, 31-3. Phil Simms was sacked five times, intercepted twice, and lost two fumbles.
WEEK 14, 2001 SEASON: It was a meaningless game, but it was highlighted by kicker Bill Gramatica, whose field goal celebration antics were more annoying than any behavior of the offspring of Andy Dick and Kathy Griffin, when he jumped around and fell, injuring his foot and ending his season.
And you thought Gus Frerotte’s head-banging celebration in Washington was embarrassing!
WEEK 17, 1993 SEASON: Despite the great distance between the two cities, these two used to play in the NFC East. The Cardinals did not have many memorable seasons there, and their best moments mostly included spoiling other successful teams, like they did to the Giants the second to last week of the season.
The Giants came in with an NFL best 11-3 record, but the Cardinals spoiled their hopes to win the division with a 17-6 victory. The following week, the Giants would lose to the Cowboys at home and force them into a wild card spot.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
1984 WILD CARD GAME: The Giants faced the then Los Angeles Rams and their record setting running back Eric Dickerson (2,105 rushing yards) and escaped with a 16-13 victory.
1989 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME: The Rams upset the Giants at the Meadowlands with a 19-13 overtime victory. Jim Everett threw a touchdown pass to Flipper Anderson only a minute into overtime.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
1990 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: It was billed as MVP Joe Montana vs. backup Jeff Hostetler, but it was really Joe Montana vs. Lawrence Taylor and the Giants defense.
The G-men didn’t reach the end zone but were able to convert five field goals to upset the Niners and end their quest to become the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls.
2002 WILD CARD GAME: I’ve already written so much about this game, including naming it the Giants’ worst loss of this decade. A 38-14 second half lead disappeared, as the Giants were hapless to stop Jeff Garcia.
WEEK FIVE, 2008 SEASON: The Giants fortunes against Seattle changed last season, even with the first of what would be many absences of Plaxico Burress.
Manning started the scoring with a toss to Burress’ replacement, Domenik Hixon. Adding insult to injury, the Giants put in backup David Carr, who even threw his own touchdown pass. The Giants gained 523 total yards while holding Seattle to 187 in a 44-6 romp.
WEEK 12, 2005 SEASON: Jay Feely missed three field goals in a game that could have drastically altered the playoffs that season and the Seahawks eventual NFC championship.