One week down and four more weeks to go before the NFL crowns a new Super Bowl champion. The New York Giants have a rich, long history in the NFL and some of their best NFL playoff moments have come in the divisional round. One of the most memorable victories was a road victory against the Dallas Cowboys in 2007.
Best NFL Playoff Moments: New York Giants Break Dallas Cowboys Heart in 2007 Divisional Playoffs
Week 3 Win Ignited New York Giants Playoff Run
The 2007 regular season was a roller-coaster ride for the Giants. At times, they looked unbeatable as the G-Men reeled off six straight wins and were the NFL’s ultimate road warriors by going 7-1 in away games. However, Giants fans were frustrated with the inconsistent play at Giants Stadium. The team lost five of the eight games on the home schedule.
At 0-2, it is hard to imagine that the key game to the 2007 season occurred in Week 3. The success of the offense leaned heavily on a dominant rushing attack as Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs split the lead back duties. But it was non-existent in the first two weeks of the season.
Heading into the nation’s capitol, the Giants were desperate for a win against the Washington Football Team in order to turn around their fortunes. The start was not very promising as the Giants trailed by two scores (17-3) at the half. But the Giants offense came to life in the second half to stage one of the biggest comebacks in recent franchise history.
The Giants scored two fourth quarter touchdowns that claimed a 24-17 lead. But Washington found themselves near the Giants end zone in the final minute of the game. The G-Men defense came through with a goal-line stand to preserve the lead. Many believe this victory was the starting point of a very memorable season.
Giants Came Up Big in Big D
After a dominating win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card round, the Giants headed to Big D to face the NFC’s top seed, the Dallas Cowboys. The G-Men lost both regular season contests to the NFC East Division champs, but a third time was the charm in achieving one of the most surprising upset wins in the franchise’s playoff history.
In a bit of role-reversal, the Cowboys had the more ball-control offense while the Giants possessed a quick play passing attack that afternoon. The Cowboys first two scoring drives (10 plays/96 yards and 20 plays/90 yards) were time-consuming and took big chunks off the clock. By contrast, the Giants first two scores were quick strikes as the total time of possession was under four minutes combined. Eli Manning was efficient (66 percent completion rate) as he completed 12 of 18 passes for 163 yards and two touchdown passes.
The first half belonged to the offense as both teams were embattled in a 14-14 tie. In the second half, it was all about the defense. Halfway through the third quarter, the Cowboys broke the tie with a 33-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Early in the fourth quarter, the Giants took advantage of a timely punt return (25 yards) by R.W. McQuarters. The offense went to work as they drove down field and scored on a Jacobs 1-yard run. These drives would set up the conclusion to one of the best NFL Playoff moments.
Best NFL Playoff Moments: The Giants pass rush
The final quarter was left to the Giants defense to protect the 21-17 lead. No question, the unit bended, but it did not break from the onslaught by the Cowboys offense. Tony Romo and Co. abandoned the running game and tried to challenge the Giants secondary with deep throws. That plan failed miserably. The Giants pass rush was too fierce to contain. The front seven consistently put pressure on Romo and often made him rush his throws. He even committed the quarterback’s cardinal sin of being flagged for intentional grounding which ended a potential scoring drive for the Cowboys.
Still with all of their frustration offensively, the Cowboys were given one last chance to win the game. Romo drove the offense deep into Giants territory but they stumbled badly to the finish line. The final series of downs began with a false start penalty, then a completed pass for four yards. Second and third down were incomplete passes, which set up the biggest play of the season for the Giants defense. On fourth down, Romo was flushed out of the pocket and overthrew an intended receiver into the hands of McQuarters with nine seconds remaining in the contest. The Giants prevailed with a 21-17 victory.
In the end, the Cowboys won the statistical battle by outgaining the G-Men 336-230 total yards and time of possession (36:30 to 23:20), but they could not stop making unforced errors that cost them the game. For the Giants, this road win gave them the confidence to forge ahead and earn an improbable Super Bowl appearance.
But, that story is for another time.