8 of the Most Unforgettable Moments in New York Giants History
The New York Giants have earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. Since forming in 1925, the team has won eight NFL championships, half of which were Super Bowls.
This success has been accompanied by innumerable noteworthy moments. From amazing on-field plays to shrewd management decisions, let’s take a chronological look at just eight of the greatest moments in New York Giants history.
1. The Sneakers Game (1934)
The Chicago Bears had won 18 games in a row and beaten the Giants twice in the regular season when they faced New York for the second consecutive year in the NFL title game.
Facing a deficit at halftime, the Giants took the unusual step of changing from cleats to basketball shoes, a move they hoped would allow them to better navigate the frozen Polo Ground field. The tactic worked, and the Giants surged ahead in the fourth quarter to beat the defending champion Bears.
2. Hank Soar’s Leaping Catch (1938)
The Giants had gone four years without a title by the time they squared off against the four-time champion Green Bay Packers in the 1938 title game.
Playing in front of more than 48,000 fans, New York trailed by one point in the third quarter when quarterback Ed Danowski dropped back from the Packers’ 23-yard line and threw a pass to Hank Soar near the goal line. Soar outjumped multiple defenders to pull in the grab, then dragged a star Packers back two more yards into the end zone. The touchdown put the Giants ahead for good.
3. The Y. A. Tittle Trade (1961)
Y. A. Tittle came to New York as a 34-year-old and would spend only four seasons with the franchise. However, his accomplishments in that relatively short time made him a Giants legend.
Traded from the San Francisco 49ers in 1961, the veteran quarterback led New York to three consecutive NFL championship games. He also became became the franchise’s first player to be named NFL MVP, an honor he received twice. Tittle retired after his fourth year with the Giants and, at the time of his death in 2017, still held several franchise passing records.
4. The Selection of Lawrence Taylor (1981)
New York experienced a long dry spell after Tittle’s retirement, with the franchise not experiencing any significant wins. That all changed with the selection of Lawrence Taylor.
Drafted by the team after he fell to №2 in the 1981 NFL draft, Taylor was integral in returning the franchise to its former glory. A 10-time Pro Bowler and a unanimous MVP in 1986, he won two Super Bowls with the team and is considered the greatest linebacker in NFL history.
5. The Super Bowl XXI Flea-Flicker (1987)
The first half of Super Bowl XX1 saw the Taylor-led Giants defense keep the game close against John Elway and the Denver Broncos. In the third quarter, New York finally got its offense going by scoring on its first five possessions, the third of which was highlighted by this memorable play.
After running back Mark Morris received a handoff from Phil Simms, he tossed it back to his quarterback, who threw a 44-yard heave to wide receiver Phil McConkey. McConkey went down at the one-yard line, and the Giants reached the end zone on the next play.
6. Wide Right (1991)
The Giants and the Buffalo Bills had finished the 1990 regular season with identical records. The former was the NFL’s №1 defense; the latter was the league’s No 1. offense. Unsurprisingly, Super Bowl XXV was a remarkably close game.
Despite being without starting quarterback Simms, who was out with an injury, the Giants led by one point with eight seconds left in the game. Bills kicker Scott Norwood lined up for a field goal, but his 42-yard attempt sailed just to the right. The miss gave the Giants a win their fans still remember today.
7. The Trade for Eli Manning (2004)
Eli Manning was a star prospect coming out of Ole Miss heading into the 2004 draft. New York held the fourth pick, and when Manning expressed that he did not want to play for the team sitting at №1, the Giants made their move.
The team traded their №4 selection, Philip Rivers, along with three future picks to acquire Manning from the San Diego Chargers. The hefty price tag proved to be worth it. Manning went on to quarterback the Giants to a pair of Super Bowls titles, winning MVP in both.
8. The Helmet Catch (2008)
The Giants made an improbable run to Super Bowl XLII by rattling off four road playoff victories. Awaiting them in the title game was the New England Patriots. A juggernaut, New England was looking to become only the second team in NFL history to complete a perfect season.
The Patriots looked poised to achieve the feat when, ahead by four points late in the fourth quarter, they applied heavy pressure to Manning on a key third-and-five play. Manning managed to evade multiple Patriots and launch a desperate 32-yard pass to wide receiver David Tyree.
Tyree jumped for the ball, and after controlling it by pinning it to his helmet, fell to the ground to secure the catch. The remarkable grab kept the drive alive for the Giants, whose touchdown a few plays later completed the historic upset.