In honor of his retirement, here are Victor Cruz’s top ten touchdowns throughout his career as a New York Giant.
It’s been a sad but honorable week for New York Giants fans. On Tuesday, former stand-out wide receiver Victor Cruz announced his retirement from the NFL. This comes after a full season of being a free agent, the longest drought for him in his career.
From the beginning, Cruz was a productive star for Big Blue. Undrafted from UMass, the receiver first made an impression in the 2010 preseason, however, he didn’t play much in the regular season. 2011 was when he began to make a name for himself. He began a career full of memorable touchdown catches, big plays, and unfortunately, multiple injuries.
Despite missing most of 2014 and all of 2015, Cruz will always be a legend in New York. His big plays and moments will always be in the memory of many Giants fans, and football fans in general.
That being said, here are the top ten Victor Cruz touchdowns throughout his career in New York.
10. One-handed TD catch vs Jets 2010 Preseason Week 1
This was the catch that started at all. In the game that pretty much landed Victor Cruz a spot on the 53-man squad for the regular season. In a 2010 Week 1 preseason game against the crosstown New York Jets, Cruz turned heads with a highlight reel catch.
On a slightly overthrown ball, Cruz was able to reach around the defender, pulling in a fantastic one-handed catch. It was the reception that started it all. Without this play, Cruz may have not been able to make a name for himself for the Giants. Yes, it was only preseason, but without this catch, Cruz could’ve ended up a training camp mystery for Big Blue. But instead, he became a prominent receiver for multiple years because of it.
9. TD vs Buccaneers 2012 Week 2
One of the best performances through the air in Eli Manning’s career couldn’t come without a big play from No. 80. Down 27-19 midway through the fourth quarter, it was do or die for Big Blue. They faced a third and two from their own 20 yard-line. And one big play, 80 yards later, Victor Cruz was in the end zone.
Manning had stepped up and floated it right into Cruz’s hands who made a great catch over-the-shoulder and in stride. This led to the Giants eventually tying the game on the ensuing two-point conversion, and an eventual win. 41-34 was the final score against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as Manning had put up a career-high 510 passing yards.
8. First TD catch in nearly two years vs Cowboys 2016 Week 1
“Time to salsa” were the exact words from announcer Joe Buck after this play was complete. In week one of the 2016 season in Dallas, Victor Cruz played in his first NFL game in 700 days. It had been in October 2014 when Cruz had first tore his patellar tendon, and just wasn’t healthy until the beginning of 2016.
It was a lot more than just a touchdown catch. Cruz had made a statement that he was back, and that the signature salsa dance had returned to the playing field. He began to prove to many that he could still be a weapon and option for Eli Manning on the other side of Odell Beckham Jr.. It was just one of those plays where as a fan, you smiled. He was back and ready to go.
7. First career TD vs Eagles 2011 Week 3
After his first showing in the NFL in the preseason of 2010, many had forgotten about Victor Cruz. The receiver hardly saw the field in the regular season of that year, and was overshadowed by guys such as Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon. However, the latter went down in week two of 2011 with an ACL tear, and that’s when Cruz reminded everyone what he can bring to the table.
In Week 3 of that year, the Giants squared off against division rival and dubbed “dream team” of that season, the Philadelphia Eagles. On a third and two, Eli Manning had hit Cruz for a first down, as he showed his elusiveness and split two defenders thereafter. It was the very first time the salsa dance celebration was introduced to the world, and gave the Giants a 14-0 lead. Big Blue eventually won the game 29-16, and the phenomenal 2011 season for Cruz had thus begun.
6. Go-ahead TD vs Dolphins 2011 Week 8
It was a game the Giants desperately needed. Playing from behind all game, the Giants needed to pull off the victory. If not, it would be an embarrassing week answering questions about losing to a winless Dolphins team.
Third and 12 from the Dolphins 25, Eli Manning had hit Cruz over the middle as he spun off a man into the end zone. It was the go-ahead touchdown with six minutes to play, which eventually led to the Giants winning 20-17. It was the fourth touchdown of the 2011 season for Cruz, and helped continue his phenomenal year.
5. TD vs Cowboys 2011 Week 17
In a game that was essentially the NFC East Championship, it was “win and in” or “lose and go home” for the Giants against the Cowboys. And just as expected, Victor Cruz pulled through.
Late in the first quarter, Cruz got the scoring going for Big Blue, as he caught a pass on and out-route, turned the corner, and took it 74 yards to the house. It began a 21-0 first half for the Giants, which led to a 31-14 victory and playoff berth.
4. One-handed TD catch vs Seahawks 2011 Week 5
Although there were other touchdown catches in this list that were more meaningful than this one, this catch could be Victor Cruz’s best play of his career. On a third down play in the third quarter, the Giants were down 19-14 to the Seahawks. A pass intended for Cruz was initially deflected in the air, which of course made many fans hang their head in disappointment. But all of a sudden, there was Cruz trotting into the end zone to give the Giants the lead.
After the deflection, Cruz was able to use great concentration and reel the deflected pass in and race towards to end zone down the right sideline. It was one of the best catches of the entire season, and most likely the best catch of Cruz’s career. However, the touchdown didn’t lead to a Giants win, as they were soundly beaten in the end.
3. TD vs Patriots 2011 Superbowl
A fantastic 2011 campaign from Victor Cruz wouldn’t be complete without a score in the Giants’ biggest game of that season. Late in the first quarter, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz in between two defenders. A pass that was juggled initially however then held onto by Cruz, giving the Giants a two-score lead.
It was the only touchdown catch for the Giants that game, which they of course ended up victorious, 21-17. It was such a fantastic moment for the young receiver. Less than two years before that, he was just an undrafted free agent out of an FCS school. Then, he was catching passes in a Super Bowl, the biggest game of his life.
2. Game-winner vs Redskins 2012 Week 7
It was a close game for the entire matchup between the Giants and the RG3-led Redskins. With less than a minute and a half to go, the Giants had a second and 10 from their own 23 yard-line. Down 23-20, it was one of those situations where the need to get into field goal range was evident. However, a field goal never happened.
Eli Manning floated a ball towards the middle of the field, and there was Cruz all alone past his defenders. He raced to the end zone, as MetLife Stadium had erupted. A 77-yard go-ahead score that gave the Giants the win against the eventual NFC East-winning Redskins.
1. 99-yarder vs Jets 2011 Week 16
And now, for the best touchdown of Victor Cruz’s career. Down 7-3 late in the first half, the Giants were backed up to their own one-yard line. It was third and 10. What was just supposed to be a play to gain some positive yardage to be able to punt, was a play that turned the whole game around.
After making the catch right near the first down marker, Cruz wasn’t done. He split two defenders and the rest was history as he raced down the right sideline, tying for the longest touchdown in NFL history. This specific play gave the Giants the lead and was became one of the biggest plays of the year for Big Blue. Without this play, not only do the Giants not take the lead, but most likely wouldn’t have the momentum that gave them the win. And without the win, the playoff chances for the Giants would’ve been erased.