Thursday, July 12, 2012

Giants Top 10 Moments of 2011-2012 Season

It's been five months since the Giants were in a sea of red, white, and confetti, celebrating their latest run through the NFL's elite to another Lombardi Trophy. Eli Manning collected his second Super Bowl MVP, and the Giants took down Tom Brady and the Patriots for the second time in four years.

Now it's time to re-live the Top 10 moments of a Giants season that was filled with people writing them off during their game in Dallas, and an improbable run into and through the playoffs, and ending with a Super Bowl Victory.

10. Manning, Nicks lead fourth-quarter comeback against Cardinals (Week 4)

The Arizona Cardinals looked to be in full control of the game after Beenie Wells rushed for his third touchdown of the game and gave the Cardinals a 27-17 lead. With under four minutes in the game, Manning hit Hakeem Nicks  for 26 yards, and set up a TD pass to Jake Ballard.

Less than two minutes later, the Giants were driving again. Manning hit Victor Cruz for a first down in Cardinal territory, and Cruz willingly went down and then let go of the ball. The Cardinals challenged but the play stood as Cruz willfully gave himself up. With under three minutes, Manning connected with Nicks again for the go ahead score. The Giants went on to win 31-27 and improve to 3-1, and was the first of many late fourth quarter comebacks by Manning and the Giants.

9. Manning beats Patriots in the fourth quarter (Week 9)

 After losing the lead with just under two minutes left in the game, Eli Manning orchestrated one of his many fourth quarter drives. Manning hit tight end Jake Ballard on a third down to keep the Giants alive, and after a pass interference call on New England, Manning hit Ballard in the back of the end zone with 15 seconds left. The win brought the Giants record to 6-2, and also foreshadowed a meeting between the two teams on February 5, 2012.

8. Giants stop Falcons twice on Fourth and One (NFC Wild Card)

Yes the Giants defense made one of the top moments of the season. The Giants were heavily criticized all season, and rightly so, for their poor play during the regular season, but they turned it around in the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons were driving on the Giants, but the Giants D stuffed Michael Turner on third and one, and then stopped Matt Ryan on fourth and one to get Eli and the offense the ball.

In the third quarter, with the Giants leading 10-2, Matt Ryan connected with Roddy White for 14 yards, setting up another fourth and one for Atlanta. The Giants D stuffed Matt Ryan for the second time in the game, and gave the momentum back to the Giants who went on to win 24-2.

7. JPP, Giants stun Cowboys in Dallas

The Giants were all but finished against the Cowboys. They trailed 34-22 with four minutes to play. Manning hit Jake Ballard for a touchdown and cut the lead to 34-29.

On a third and five, Tony Romo overthrew a wide open Miles Austin, and it forced the Cowboys to punt. Manning was at it again and he led the Giants down to the Cowboys one yard line with just over a minute left. Brandon Jacobs scored two plays later, and the Giants converted on the two-point conversion.

Romo led the Cowboys down the field, and gave the Cowboys a chance to tie the game at 37. Kicker Dan Bailey hit the 47 yard field goal attempt, but the refs blew the play dead for a timeout by Tom Coughlin and the Giants.

Bailey's next attempt would be blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul and would preserve a 37-34 victory for the Giants. The win tied the Giants with the Cowboys atop the division, and keep their playoff hopes alive.

6. Giants win the NFC East, get into playoffs (Week 17)

 It was a do or die game for the Giants and Cowboys. The winner would take the NFC East title and get into the playoffs. The Giants got off to a fast start, with the help a 74 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz. Ahmad Bradshaw scored twice, one rushing and one receiving, and the Giants held a commanding 21-0 lead.

The Cowboys fought back to cut the lead to 21-14, but the Giants answered scoring the final 10 points and beat the Cowboys 31-14.

The Giants won the NFC East title and were set to face the Atlanta Falcons the next week at MetLife Stadium.

5. Victor Cruz, enough said

The Giants receiving core consisted of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Domenik Hixon through the first two weeks of the season, but when Hixon went down against the Rams with a torn ACL, the Giants looked to UMass grad Victor Cruz. It did not take long for Cruz to have an impact for the Giants. The next week Cruz caught two touchdown passes from Manning in the Giants 29-16 win over the division favorite Philadelphia Eagles. The next week Cruz made a circus catch in double coverage against the Seattle Seahawks, and flashed his salsa dance for the first time in front of the home crowd.

Cruz finished the season with 82 catches for 1,536 yards, and 9 touchdowns.

4. Jaqcuian Williams strips Kyle Williams (NFC Championship)

The Giants and San Francisco 49ers were tied at 17 in overtime of the NFC Championship game. The Niners punt returner, Ted Ginn, was not available so backup Kyle Williams was the man. Earlier in the game Kyle Williams let a bouncing ball deflect off his leg, and it was recovered by the Giants, and led to a Giants touchdown.

Now in overtime, Kyle Williams caught the ball and tried to run before securing the ball. Rookie Jacquian Williams stuck his hand in and knocked the ball loose before it was secured. Devin Thomas jumped on the loose ball and the Giants were on the San Francisco 24 yard line.

Four plays later Lawrence Tynes kicked a 31 yard field goal and sent the Giants to the Super Bowl, just like he did four years ago.

3. Victor Cruz 99 yard TD catch (Week 16)

The Giants were facing off with the rival New York Jets, who they share the stadium with, and the game had an impact on both teams playoff hopes.

The Giants were trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, and were facing a third and long on their own one yard line. Eli Manning found Victor Cruz for a ten yard completion, but Cruz wasn't done. Cruz changed direction on Jets corner back Antonio Cromartie, and was off to the races. Cruz took it to the house for a 99 yard touchdown that gave the Giants the lead for good, and the Giants won 29-14.

From that play on, the Giants began a run that would take them all the way through the playoffs, and into the Superbowl.

2. "The Catch II" Manning to Manningham (Super Bowl XLVI)
With the Giants trailing the Patriots 17-15 with under four minutes in the fourth quarter, it was up to Eli Manning to lead another game-winning drive. The Giants were backed up on their own 10 yard line when Manning dropped back to pass. He looked right, saw nothing, came back left and let one go down the sideline for Mario Manningham. The ball was thrown where only Manningham could catch it, and Manningham did while keeping both feet in bounds.

The 38 yard pass set the Giants up for the eventual game-winning score in Super Bowl XLVI, and will now be known by Giants fans as "The Catch II".

The Manningham catch came four years after Manning hit Tyree in Super Bowl XLII for one of the greatest catches in Superbowl history.

1. Giants win their fourth Lombardi Trophy

The Giants completed their improbable run by winning their fourth Super Bowl in team history. The Giants defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the second time in four years, and Eli Manning left no doubt that he is an elite quarterback with his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.

The Giants scored with just under a minute left to take 21-17 lead over the Patriots. Tom Brady led the Patriots out to the 50 yard line with enough time for one more play. Brady hoisted the ball towards the end zone, and the Giants knocked the ball down and sealed the victory.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin preached one word to his team all year "finish", and thats what the Giants did. The Giants ended the season, including playoffs, on a six game win streak and won seven of their last eight to capture the Lombardi Trophy.

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