Here is the list of the top 10 moments in the history of the New York Football Giants in chronological order.
The Giants have a long, illustrious history, and it was difficult for me to whittle down all the great moments into a list of 10.
These are the events and games that I felt were the most important—in no particular order, so hold your fire.
The Giants were having difficulty getting their footing on the frozen surface of the Polo Grounds against Bronko Nagurski and the powerful Chicago Bears.
Losing 10-3 in the third quarter, Giants coach Steve Owen made the decision to have his team swap their cleats for sneakers. It worked.
In the second half, the Giants scored 27 unanswered points and won the NFL Championship, 30-13.
To this day, the sneakers—which were borrowed from the Manhattan College basketball team—have been credited with providing the Giants a competitive edge in the ball game.
On Dec. 30, 1956, the Giants defeated the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium. Again, they wore sneakers.
This game does not have any specific significance, other than the fact that it was the only NFL Championship won by the team that sported some of the greatest players in Giants history.
The 1956 Giants roster consisted of five hall-of-famers: Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Roosevelt Brown, Andy Robustelli, and Emlen Tunnell.
The team also featured other great players such as Charley Conerly, Rosey Grier, Kyle Rote, Alex Webster, Jimmy Patton, Mel Triplett, and Dick Nolan, just to name a few.
Although the Giants did not have a losing season under head coach Jim Lee Howell (1954-60), many felt the team underachieved overall. But it was their inability to retain talent that would be their undoing.
Howell’s coordinators, Vince Lombardi (offense) and Tom Landry (defense) both left the Giants and went on to become legendary coaches that would reshape professional football.
In 1979, the Commissioner of the NFL, Alvin "Pete" Rozelle, saw that the New York Football Giants, one of the league's flagship franchises, needed some outside guidance to become competitive again and decided to lend a hand.
Rozelle mediated a truce between the two owners of the Giants, Wellington Mara and his nephew, Tim. The outcome was that they would hire George Young to run their football operations.
Young was a seasoned front office man who held many positions with the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins.
He had the demeanor of a college dean and perhaps the best eye for talent in the business.
After Young took the reins in 1979, he hired a no-nonsense coach in former Colts player and Patriots' offensive coordinator Ray Perkins.
Perkins assembled a talented staff that included Bill Parcells and a young Bill Belichick.
His first draft choice was QB Phil Simms of Moorehead State. Young would go on to draft many other star players over his 19-year tenure, including: Lawrence Taylor, Mark Bavaro, Carl Banks, Joe Morris, Jeff Hostetler, Pepper Johnson, Rodney Hampton, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, and Tiki Barber.
The Giants went 6-10 in 1979, but the structure and outlook of the club changed dramatically. You could smell something good was about to happen, and it did.
Under Young, the Giants went to the playoffs eight times under five coaches, won two Super Bowls, and had a record of 155-139.
The gods were looking down on the Giants. The New Orleans Saints chose the Heisman Trophy winner, RB George Rogers of South Carolina, with the top selection.
That brought a sigh of relief from George Young, who held the second selection. He quickly snapped up North Carolina OLB Lawrence Taylor, changing the fortunes of the franchise forever.
LT would become the greatest player in Giants' history and one of the game's most feared defenders, revolutionizing linebacker play at the professional level.
After nearly two decades of unwatchable football, Ray Perkins’ Giants secured a playoff berth with a dramatic 13-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys at the Meadowlands.
Kicker Joe Danelo’s 35-yard FG in overtime boosted the Giants’ record to 9-7 (the team’s first winning record in nine seasons) and into the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.
The next week, the Giants would shock the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card game, 27-21.
They would go on to lose in San Francisco the following week, 38-24, in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, but they were finally headed in the right direction.
In Super Bowl XXI, the Giants faced the great John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Elway, however, would be the second-best quarterback on this day.
Phil Simms, after years of injury and disappointment, had finally come into his own. He chose this bright, crisp Southern California day to have his greatest game.
In front of over 101,000 fans and tens of millions more watching on television, Simms led the Giants to a 39-20 victory on 22-25 passing for 268 yards and 3 TDs.
It was the Giants’ first NFL Championship in 30 years.
Grown men cried and young men partied. And Bill Parcells got the first-ever Super Bowl Gatorade dousing.
The 1990 NFC Championship was a showdown of the NFC’s two best clubs—the Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers (15-2) were two-time Super Bowl champs and appeared headed for a three-peat. Only the Giants (14-3) stood in their path.
The two teams had met during the season in San Fran in Week 13—a brutal battle on MNF that the 49ers won, 7-3.
This time around, the Giants made sure they had enough points when they left Candlestick Park.
With the U.S. Military amping up for Desert Storm, New York DE knocked Joe Montana from the game and Lawrence Taylor stripped Steve Young of the ball, setting up the winning FG from Matt Bahr—his fifth of the day.
When an emotional Bahr was interviewed leaving field after the game he dedicated the Giants’ victory, saying, “This is for the troops.”
The Buffalo Bills were the gold standard of offenses in 1990. After rocking the Raiders 51-3 in the AFC Championship Game, Buffalo was favored to steamroll the Giants and take Super Bowl XXV.
Giants head coach Bill Parcells and his defensive coordinator Bill Bellichick had other ideas. They designed a strategy to slow down QB Jim Kelly and the Bills’ league-leading offense.
By slamming Buffalo wideouts with linebackers rather than safeties, the Bills’ receivers began to drop passes and lose steam as the game went on.
The Giants had just enough offense to get by. Led by backup QB Jeff Hostetler, the Giants employed new formations and used their most valuable assets—their massive offensive line and running back Ottis Anderson—to control the ball for nearly 40 minutes, keeping Kelly on the sidelines.
With eight seconds to go, and the Giants leading 20-19, the Bills were stalled on their 30-yard line. Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood was brought out to attempt a 47-yard FG that would win the Super Bowl for the Bills.
Norwood’s kick sailed wide right, giving the Giants’ their second Super Bowl victory in five seasons.
The 2000-2001 NFC Championship Game pitted the 14-4 Giants against the visiting 12-6 Minnesota Vikings.
The home Giants and their fans were wary of the powerful passing game the Vikings were bringing to New Jersey.
QB Daunte Culpepper threw for 33 TDs in 2000—15 to superstar WR Randy Moss and nine more to the immortal Cris Carter.
None of that mattered. The Giants’ defense flustered Culpepper, limiting him to 78 yards passing and picking him off three times.
Under a masterful offensive game plan designed by coordinator Sean Payton, Big Blue came out firing and never looked back.
With an offensive display never before seen by Giants fans, QB Kerry Collins set NFC Championship Game records with 5 TDs and 381 yards passing en route to a 41-0 victory and a trip to Super Bowl XXXV.
When it was all over, Collins and head coach Jim Fassel held the George Halas trophy high over his head—the third in franchise history.
The 2006 season was an up-and-down one for the Giants. After jumping out to a 6-2 record, the Giants lost six of their next seven games, dropping them to 7-8 with one game to go in the season.
If they could beat the Redskins in Washington in Week 17, they would qualify for the playoffs if one of eight scenarios broke their way the next day.
To do this, they would turn to the backbone of their offensive attack Tiki Barber to lead them into the postseason.
Barber had announced during the season that this would be his last in professional football. He was retiring to seek opportunities in the media world.
Barber suited up for his final regular season game that Saturday night knowing what needed to be done. He then carried the team on his back and into the playoffs.
Tiki rushed for a franchise record 234 yards that night, scoring three times. The Giants won 34-28, and Barber further etched his legacy as the Giants’ greatest offensive player.
The Wild Card Giants of 2007 were aptly called “The Road Warriors,” having won seven of eight regular season away games and notching three more wins on the road in the NFC playoffs.
The New England Patriots, on the other hand, won every game they played in the regular season—the first team ever to go 16-0—plus two playoff games.
The undefeated Patriots were double-digit favorites to beat the Giants in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
In a contest of opposite forces colliding, the Giants managed to corral the record-breaking New England offense of Tom Brady and Randy Moss, limiting the tired, pressure-laden Patriots to 14 points and battering Brady in the process.
The most memorable play of the game came on the Giants’ winning drive in the final minute. QB Eli Manning escaped the New England rush and hurled a prayer down the middle of the field.
Little-used WR David Tyree leaped over Patriot safety Rodney Harrison, grabbing the pass and wrestling to control the ball on his way to the ground.
He did so by securing it against the side of his helmet, in one of the most bizarre plays in NFL history.
The Giants continued to drive on the spent Patriots, scoring on a Manning-to-Plaxico Burress TD with 35 seconds remaining to complete a 17-14 victory.
The Patriots left the field as losers for the first time in six months. The Giants left as World Champions.