Being a fan of the New York Giants, I really cannot complain, especially since my wife and her family root for the Buffalo Bills.
I have been fortunate enough to witness four Super Bowl titles and another Super Bowl appearance, all since 1986, so I am absolutely not expecting any sympathy for writing this article. However, the Giants have also suffered their share of painful losses over the years.
Many may wonder why I would write such an article. Just call it a form of therapy which is made less painful by the success that the team has enjoyed in recent years. Without further ado, here is the best of the bad.
#5) November 26, 2006: Titans 24, Giants 21
As I have mentioned in previous articles, I live in the Northeast but not in the New York area. Because of this, I get most of the Giants games on television but not all and this was one of those weeks where I did not get to watch the game. I remember watching the game that was being aired on Fox though, constantly looking at the updates and seeing that the Giants held a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
With 12:55 left in the game, the lead was still 21-0 and I foolishly remember thinking that this game was "in the bag." But Vince Young brought the Titans back and tied the game up with 49 seconds left. The Giants got the ball back and, two plays later, Eli Manning threw an interception which set the Titans up for the winning field goal.
The two things I remember about this game are: 1) Then rookie Mathias Kiwanuka had Vince Young wrapped up on a 4th and 10, but for some reason, he let go of him and Young was able to run for a first down; 2) Since I only saw the updates, I was certain that Fox had the score wrong. The Giants had the ball with under a minute left and the next thing I know, it's a 24-21 loss to the Titans.
#4) December 27, 1997: Vikings 23, Giants 22
Although this was a playoff game, I was not overly upset with this loss because, had the Giants won, Big Blue would have played the defending champion Green Bay Packers the next week at Lambeau Field. But because my brother is a fan of the Vikings, it really stung.
Besides the daunting task of playing the Packers, I also was not very upset because the Giants winning the NFC East that year took me, and everyone else, by surprise, so just making the playoffs was remarkable. Nonetheless, the Giants blew this game in more ways than one. Although dominating for most of the day, the Giants settled for too many field goals. They did lead 22-13 when a pass from Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham to wide receiver Jake Reed cut the lead to 22-20. Since there was only 1:30 left in the game, the Vikings were forced to try an onside kick that they recovered, leading to the game winning field goal with 10 seconds left.
#3) January 2, 1994: Cowboys 16, Giants 13 (OT)
This was not a playoff game, but it was as close as you can get. The Giants hosted the Cowboys on the last day of the season with the winner getting a bye week and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and the loser having to host a wild car game the next week.
It was Dan Reeves' first season as coach of the New York Giants. After two disastrous years under Ray Handley, the Giants hired ex-Broncos coach Reeves to lead Big Blue. In his first season, the Giants stood toe-to-toe with the defending champion Dallas Cowboys and both teams had an 11-4 record on the last Sunday of the year. Trailing at halftime 13-0, the Gaints found their way in the second half and tied the game at 13, forcing overtime. But Emmitt Smith, playing with a separated shoulder, was too much for Big Blue's defense and the Cowboys won in overtime, 16-13.
The Giants would go on to win the next week in the wild card round, but would lose in the divisional round to the San Francisco 49ers. Although they were humiliated in San Francisco, in some ways, the season was lost against the Cowboys.
#2) January 5, 2003: 49ers 39, Giants 38
The Giants were 6-6 in the 2002 season, but Kerry Collins and the offense got hot and headed into the playoffs on a four game winning streak. That groove continued when they arrived in San Francisco for a wild card game against the NFC West champion 49ers and Kerry Collins threw four touchdown passes in the first half!
In the third quarter, Matt Bryant kicked a 21-yard field goal giving Big Blue a 38-14 lead. Then, the nightmare began. Big Blue's defense simply fell apart and before you could blink, the 49ers took a 39-38 lead with one minute left.
Despite blowing such a big lead though, Kerry Collins was given enough time to lead the Giants down the field and into field goal range with a chance to win the game. But as every Giants' fan knows, the special teams was having issues, specifically with the new long snapper, Trey Junkin, so this field goal was no sure thing. As it turned out, one of the most bizarre plays in the history of the NFL ensued when Junkin made his second poor snap of the game and the Giants were not even able to attempt a kick. Holder Matt Allen attempted to throw a pass downfield when his intended target was taken down before the ball arrived. It appeared that perhaps pass interference would be called on the 49ers, but the Giants also looked to have illegal men downfield. Nothing was called and the Giants left San Francisco having blown a huge lead.
#1) December 19, 2010: Eagles 38, Giants 31
I have written in previous articles that I cannot stand the Eagles. I actually detest them more than the Cowboys, so I am perfectly aware that this may be the reason behind this selection. The bigger reason why this is No. 1 though, is because, unlike in 1997 and 2002, I really thought that the Giants had a chance to make the Super Bowl in 2010.
The Giants and the Eagles met in New Jersey both 9-4 with the winner being in the driver's seat for the NFC East title. Eli Manning threw his 4th touchdown pass with 8:17 left in the 4th quarter, giving the Giants a 31-10 lead. After that, nothing went Big Blue's way.
First, the Eagles were able to score a touchdown in under a minute to cut the lead to 31-17. Then, the Eagles recovered an onside kick (that for some reason caught the Giants by surprise) and, with 5:28 left, it was 31-24. The Eagles tied the score at 31 when Michael Vick found Jeremy Maclin in the endzone with 1:16 left. The Giants got the ball back but could not get into field goal range and were forced to punt.
We all know what happened next, the Miracle at the Meadowlands II! I remember watching the game and yelling at the television (yes, I talk to the TV during games) to punt the ball out of bounds; DeSean Jackson had been killing them as a punt returner. Just kick the ball out of bounds and let's try to win in overtime. Obviously, that didn't happen and Jackson had a "walk-off punt return." I'll never ever forget Tom Coughlin grabbing rookie punter Matt Dodge by the shirt and yelling at him, but I wanted to grab Coughlin and yell, "Why were you caught offguard by that onside kick!" I admit that after that season, I wanted Coughlin gone, mainly because of this game and the subsequent week's butt-kicking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Luckily, I don't make those decisions and the Giants won the Super Bowl the next year.