New York Giants: 5 Biggest Blunders of the Past 20 Years

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IJune 5, 2011

New York Giants: 5 Biggest Blunders of the Past 20 Years

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    This offseason is the 20-year anniversary of one of the biggest mistakes the New York Giants organization has ever made. If you are a long time fan of the Giants, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

    It got me thinking, what are some of the most terrible moments of the past 20 years since that incident? They could be plays, games, off-the-field incidents, or anything. Obviously, there have been more, but I narrowed the list down to five.

    Try not to cringe too hard when you read them.

5. Chris Calloway Failed Onside Kick Recovery

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    Though the Giants did not have the best team in the world in 1997—their offense was pretty bad—they did have the highest turnover differential, forced the most turnovers, had the third-best scoring defense in the league at only 16.6 ppg, and had a pretty potent three-headed running attack of Tiki Barber, Tyrone Wheatley and Charles Way. 

    Those factors made the Giants a prime candidate to knock off the top-seeded 49ers or the Brett Favre-led Packers.

    Instead, they allowed the Vikings to score 10 points in 90 seconds to come back from a 22-13 deficit to win, 23-22, in the first round of the playoffs.

    The comeback happened like this: Randall Cunningham threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jake Reed, Chris Calloway fails to recover an onside kick, and Cunningham puts Eddie Murray in field goal range and he ends the game from 24 yards out.

4. Plaxico Burress vs. The Glock

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    The Giants capped the most incredible Super Bowl upset in the history of the NFL with a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress that no Giants fan will ever forget.

    "Manning—lobs it. Burress—alone. Touchdown!" Like Joe Buck or not, that call is legendary.

    They started the 2008 season with a chance to defend their title despite losing defensive captain Michael Strahan. They responded to having a target on their backs with an 11-1 start and primed to repeat as champions.

    Then Burress made the worst decision of his life. He took a glock pistol with him, tucked in his sweat pants, to a New York City night club. The gun went off accidentally, shooting him in the leg.

    He would recover from the injury, but the New York DA made an example of him. New York state gun laws are incredibly strict, and the gun was not registered, so Burress was forced to spend the next two years (approximately) of his life in jail.

    The Giants bowed out in the first round of the 2008 playoffs and haven't been back since. It is a defining moment for this team that it has yet to get over.

3. Giants Blow 21-Point Lead to Eagles with NFC East on the Line

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    The Giants led the Eagles by 21 points with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of a must-win game. With both teams at 9-4 and tied atop the NFC East, it seemed as if the winner would make the playoffs and the loser would be on its way home in January.

    The Giants responded with their best 52 minutes of the season. Too bad an NFL game has 60.

    Michael Vick led an incredible comeback against the previously dominant Giants defense. The offense isn't free from blame, either, as offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride called some of the worst plays I've seen from him all season.

    With a chance to put his foot on the Eagles' collective throat, Gilbride looked to be wearing size five shoes.

    With the game tied and seemingly headed for overtime, one play remained for the Giants—a punt. Nothing scared Giants fans more in 2010 than Matt Dodge stepping onto the field. That fear was doubled when Andy Reid sent DeSean Jackson on the field to return the punt.

    Instead of punting out of bounds, Dodge hit a line drive punt straight to Jackson, claiming the high snap forced him to ignore placement and just get the punt off.

    Honestly, a blocked punt probably would have been better than what happened. Jackson returned the punt for a touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

    The play is something Eagles fans will be able to point to as the christening of the new stadium, and dubbed the "Miracle at the New Meadowlands," a spin off of the first "Miracle at the Meadowlands."

     

     

2. Trey Junkin Botched Snap After Giants Blew 24 Point Lead

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    You could make the case that this game should be on the list three times. They gave up a 24-point lead—the second most in playoff history—Shockey dropped a pass that would have been a touchdown and put the game to bed at 42-14, and they even had a chance to win the game on a field goal and Trey Junkin botched the snap.

    You could almost feel it coming when the announcers were making such a big deal of the Giants signing Junkin to be the long snapper after he had been sitting on the couch most of the year.

    The Giants signed him that week, and as you can see in the video, he had almost 1,460 snaps and only two misses. That's 0.13 percent error.

    On the play, the punter Matt Allen can't handle the low snap and gives up on the field goal, which honestly, if you watch the play 1,000 times, you get the feeling he should have waited a little longer. He then rolls out and heaves the ball downfield to an open Rich Seubert, who is tackled on the play. Flag on the field.

    Everyone assumes the flag is pass interference. Seubert, an offensive lineman, had checked in as an eligible receiver prior to the play, but illegal man down field is called.

    Although the refs did make the right call on another lineman being down field, Seubert should have been allowed to catch the ball and the penalties would have offset, allowing for a replay of the down and the Giants would have been able to re-kick.

    The NFL made a statement the following day, telling everyone the refs made the wrong call. This game will never be forgotten by Giants fans, it's one of the darkest moments in their history.

1. Hiring Ray Handley to Replace Bill Parcells

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    Bill Belichick was one of the most popular assistants in New York during his 12-year stint with the team. He spent all of his time on the defensive side of the ball, taking over the defensive coordinator duties in 1985.

    The year after he took over, the Giants won the Super Bowl. In six years as the defensive coordinator, the Giants had one of the most feared units in the NFL. They finished fifth, second, 13th (strike year), ninth, second and first in scoring defense in those years.

    The 1990 Giants defense was legendary, and during the playoff run they held the vaunted 49ers offense to 13 points in the NFC championship, and then held Jim Kelly and the Bills to just 19 points. His game plan for the Bills is part of the NFL Hall of Fame.

    Bill Parcells retired for health reasons after that season, and for some reason George Young, the GM at the time, had already named offensive coordinator Ray Handley as the eventual successor for Parcells and didn't budge when he promoted Handley to head coach.

    After several years of defensive dominance, the Giants stiffed Belichick and he left the team to be the Browns head coach. How ironic is it that eventual Giants GM Ernie Accorsi hired Belichick as the Browns GM in 1991. If only he had joined the Giants a few years earlier.

    Handley went on to coach two straight 6-10 teams and was fired. Although Belichick struggled with the Browns and you could argue that he may have done the same with New York, there is no denying the Giants were a more talented team than the Browns. 

    Another reason he likely would have succeeded with the Giants is that they loved him and would have gone to war for him, whereas in Cleveland he was not as popular, especially when he was chastised for releasing Bernie Kosar, a fan favorite.

    Who's to say the Giants don't win another Super Bowl or two with Phil Simms and Bill Belichick calling the shots?

    Hell, even Tom Coughlin was on the coaching staff that year and would have been a better hire than Handley. Coughlin went on to coach the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars and had some incredibly successful years there.

    It's been 20 years since that 1991 offseason, and the Giants have only one ring in that time. Who knows how many more we could have with "The Hoodie" patrolling the sidelines.