The 2021 NFL schedule is set in stone. While the Giants will play their usual division rivals twice, they’ll also see the Rams, Bears, Dolphins, and each team from both the NFC South and AFC West.
There have been plenty of memorable victories against all of these opponents, but these, in particular, are the ones that remain fresh in the fans’ memories (teams listed in order of this season’s schedule):
Denver Broncos: Super Bowl XXI, January 25, 1987
The Giants have had several noteworthy wins over the Broncos, one of which is the 1986 Super Bowl preview at the Meadowlands. There is also a 1989 victory in the snow at Mile High (best remembered for linebacker Gary Reasons’ game-saving hit on Bobby Humphrey) and their 1998 upset win over a Denver team that came in with a perfect 13-0 record.
However, all of these pale in comparison to what happened on January 25, 1987, at the Rose Bowl, a 39-20 victory of which the Giants scored in every quarter while holding the Broncos to 10 points each in the first and fourth quarters of that game.
Two highlights from that game included Phil Simms' record-setting 22 of 25 throwing performance and a huge goal-line stand by the Giants defense that some might say was one of the turning points of that game.
Washington (away): December 7, 1986
(For the NFC East opponents, we’ll be taking a look at the Giants’ best wins at home and on the road.)
There were many Washington games to choose from, given this series dates back to 1932. But the most consequential has to be the Giants' Week 14 victory at RFK Stadium in 1986.
With both teams tied for first place (11-2), Giants quarterback Phil Simms threw three touchdown passes, and the Giants’ defense intercepted Washington quarterback Jay Schroeder six times for a 24-14 win for precisely the kind of win needed on one's way to a Super Bowl run.
Atlanta Falcons: 2011 Wild Card (January 8, 2012)
Speaking of Super Bowl runs, they all have to start somewhere. For the 2011 Giants Super Bowl team, that "somewhere" was a Wild Card victory over Atlanta, the only home playoff game the Giants won during quarterback Eli Manning's 16-year career.
Oddly enough, the game started poorly. Manning was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead.
But that was to be the last time that they got on the board, as Manning ended up throwing three touchdown passes, two to Hakeem Nicks and one to Mario Manningham, as the Giants eliminated Atlanta, 24-2.
New Orleans Saints: September 30, 2001
The Giants’ first home game after the September 11 attacks was, as one might expect, an emotional one.
The Giants, hosting the New Orleans Saints, delivered an emotionally charged performance that united even the most bitter rivals who might have had different rooting interests.
Ron Dayne ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and an offensive pass interference call on the final play of the game preserved a 21-13 Giants' victory.
Dallas Cowboys (road): 2007 Divisional Game, January 13, 2008
To win Super Bowl XLII, the Giants needed to beat four teams that had combined to win 51 games in the regular season--all on the road, no less.
One of those four, the Dallas Cowboys, contributed 13 of those victories, which gave them home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 1995.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw 36 touchdown passes in the regular season, 15 of which were caught by Terrell Owens.
Meanwhile, in a classic case of counting one's chickens before they hatched, Cowboys team president Jerry Jones decided it would be a good idea to leave tickets to the NFC Championship game in the lockers of every player before actually playing the Giants.
Here's hoping the tickets were honored at the following weekend's NFC Championship game between the Giants and Packers, as the Giants defense held the duo of Romo and Owens to only one score.
Meanwhile, two touchdown receptions by Amani Toomer and a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs gave the Giants a 21-17 win and what would become a memorable date the following weekend in the frigid city of Green Bay.
Los Angeles Rams: 1984 Wild Card, December 23, 1984
Look up "winning ugly" in the dictionary, and you might just find this game referenced.
Despite gaining only 192 total yards on offense, quarterback Phil Simms’ solid field direction led to three Ali Haji-Sheikh field goals.
Tack on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Rob Carpenter, and you’ve got a 16-13 upset playoff win in Anaheim.
As a side note, the 1984 season was the one in which Rams running back Eric Dickerson ran for an NFL-record 2,105 yards on 379 carries (5.6 yards-per-carry average).
However, in that game, the Giants defense managed to hold Dickerson to 107 yards on 23 carries, 4.65 yards-per-carry (not that it mattered in the final result).
Carolina Panthers: September 12, 2010
The Week 16 overtime victory in 2008 was a tempting choice here since it gave the Giants home-field advantage, but since the Giants were one-and-done in that year's postseason, let's go with September 12, 2010, the first Giants regular-season game played at MetLife Stadium.
On a rainy day, the Giants overcame a halftime deficit to beat the Panthers, 31-18. Despite throwing three interceptions, quarterback Eli Manning's three touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks were a major contributor to that victory.
Kansas City: December 17, 2005
This late-season matchup played on a rare (at the time) Saturday afternoon at the old Giants Stadium showcased two of the best running backs in pro football, Tiki Barber and Larry Johnson.
Johnson recorded 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns that afternoon, but Barber was a lot better, rushing for a whopping 220 yards and two touchdowns.
What's more, in a must-win game that both teams needed, the Giants came out on top, 27-17.
If we're talking the most memorable game played between these two teams on the road (which is where the Giants will be facing the Chiefs this year on Monday Night Football on November 1, 2021), the hands-down pick is the emotional 13-3 victory on September 23, 2001, the Giants' first game after 9/11.
Who could ever forget the warm reception of the Chiefs' home crowd and their passing around a fireman's boot to take up a collection for relief efforts at Ground Zero?
Those were just some of the many ways the home team paid a touching tribute to the New York area, putting humanity way above any sports rivalry between two fan bases.
Raiders: September 21, 1986
After being pasted by the Raiders in each of their first three meetings--this series began in 1973 after the AFL-NFL merger--the Giants scored their first-ever victory over the Silver and Black in Week 3 of the 1986 season in Los Angeles.
Two touchdown catches by Giants receiver Lionel Manuel accounted for all of the Giants’ scoring in their 14-9 triumph, while the Giants defense limited Raiders running back Marcus Allen to just 40 rushing yards.
While he did tack on 86 receiving yards, holding Allen to 40 yards on the ground in this era was quite the accomplishment.
Tampa Bay: 2007 Wild Card, January 6, 2008
The Giants’ surprising 2007 playoff run began where some prognosticators thought it would end: in Tampa against a Bucs defense that was among the NFL’s elite.
Manning played a terrific game, throwing two touchdown passes. His offensive line limited that Bucs defense to just one sack on the afternoon, and running back Brandon Jacobs's two touchdowns (one on the ground and one via the air), along with a touchdown reception by Amani Toomer, all contributed to the "Road Warriors'"' 24-14 upset win.
Philadelphia (home): 2000 Divisional Round. January 7, 2001
Each of the Giants’ home playoff games in 2000 was a coming-out party for a team that had just escaped from the largely mediocre 1990s, but none were sweeter than this 20-10 win over the hated Eagles.
This game was literally over as soon as it started. Ron Dixon took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to give New York a lead they never relinquished.
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was sacked six times, and Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn returned an interception 32 yards for a score.
With the win, the Giants advanced to their first NFC Championship Game in a decade since the 1990 postseason.
Miami: September 23, 1990
In the first meeting of two future Hall of Fame head coaches, Bill Parcells’ Giants bested Don Shula’s Dolphins, 20-3.
How dominant was the Giants’ defense in 1990? Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino went 14 of 30 for 115 yards, no touchdowns, and threw two interceptions.
Meanwhile, Giants running back Ottis Anderson recorded two rushing touchdowns, and kicker Raul Allegre had two field goals, a 22-yarder to open the game and a 45-yarder to close it.
A runner-up choice for the most memorable win, at least from a historical perspective, was the 13-10 slop fest that took place in Wembley Stadium in London.
That game was the inaugural International Series kickoff for the league, and although it was a sloppy game thanks to a steady rain, the Giants still gained a very important win in what would be their first Super Bowl season since 2000.
Chargers: September 14, 1986
This game might be viewed as the beginning of the end for “Air Coryell,” the San Diego Chargers’ unstoppable offense of the 1970s and 1980s.
Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts only tallied one touchdown pass while throwing five interceptions as part of a 19 of 43 performance for just 224 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Joe Morris and receiver Lionel Manuel contributed touchdowns to the Giants' scoring while kicker Joe Cooper added two field goals of 21 and 20 yards as the Giants won their home opener that year, 20-7.
Dallas (home): December 19, 1981
This was honestly one of the most influential wins in Giants history, the game that slammed the door shut on two decades of misery.
With the game knotted at 7-7 in the fourth quarter, the fireworks kicked in--literally--when Dallas kicker Rafael Septien hit a 36-yarder to give the Cowboys a 10-7 lead.
Not to be undone, Giants kicker Joe Danelo answered with a 40-yarder which tied the game and sent it into overtime.
In the end, Danelo's 35-yarder in the extra period gave the Giants a 13-10 win and, more importantly, their first playoff berth since 1963.
Philadelphia (away): 1981 Wild Card, December 27, 1981
Sticking with the 1981 season, the Giants' first postseason game since 1963 turned into a stunning upset of the Giants’ arch-rivals and their first playoff victory since 1958.
New York’s offense, one of the league’s worst during the 1981 season, befuddled the Eagles’ defense, the league’s best in 1981.
The Giants scored 27 points all in the first half. Quarterback Scott Brunner completed nine out of 14 passes for 96 yards, and three of them to three different receiving targets (running back Leon Bright, receiver John Mistler, and tight end Tom Mullady) for touchdowns.
Rob Carpenter chipped in with 161 rushing yards and the Giants special teams even got in on the scoring ambush when cornerback Mark Haynes recovered an Eagles fumble in the end zone in the first quarter to give the Giants a comfortable 20-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Chicago: 1934 Championship, December 9, 1934
Is there any other choice for the greatest Giants win against the Chicago Bears than the famed “Sneakers Game”?
The 1934 NFL Championship Game was played on a miserable day in New York. Weather conditions turned the Polo Grounds field into an ice rink, making footing a slippery slope.
The Giants slipped their way to a 10-3 halftime deficit, but during the intermission, New York switched to the basketball shoes that had been rounded up by a team assistant from a local college.
The sneakers helped the Giants gain better traction on the icy field, and with their footing more secure underneath them for the second half, the Giants would go on to outscore the Bears 27-3 in the game's final 30 minutes, the Giants' points coming in the fourth quarter.
The 30-13 final score gave the Giants their second championship in franchise history.
Washington (home): 1986 NFC Championship, January 11, 1987
The Giants had beaten Washington in each of their two 1986 regular-season meetings. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, they went for the three-peat and got it, becoming the first NFL team to beat Washington three times in a single campaign, this one a 17-0 shutout.
Giants running back Joe Morris ran for 87 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, an impenetrable Giants defense that had just held the 49ers to a field goal in the Divisional round shut out Washington to the tune of 17-0 as confetti rained down from the highest points in the old Giants Stadium to celebrate the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl berth.
As a footnote, this was the second-to-last shutout in NFC Championship Game history. The last? You guessed it, the Giants’ 41-0 humiliation of Minnesota in 2000.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Traina.)
More from Giants Country
- What the 2021 Giants Can Learn from the 2011 Super Bowl Team
- Eli Manning Rejoins New York Giants in Business Ops and Fan Engagement Role
- LB Carter Coughlin: The Good, the Great and the Ugly
- New York Giants Training Camp Preview - QB Daniel Jones
Be sure to keep it locked on Giants Country all the time!