The New York Giants’ five greatest moments of this past decade, including the organization’s fourth Super Bowl title.
It began with a DeSean Jackson punt return that broke the hearts of every New York Giants fan. It ended with an Eli Manning farewell that caused football fans across the league to tear up. That, and everything in between, contributed to a very weird decade for Big Blue, one that included some ups and many, many downs.
From 2010-19, the Giants experienced six losing seasons, three different head coaches, one home playoff game, one Super Bowl title, and, of course, a start for Geno Smith at quarterback. Did I say it was a “weird” decade? I actually meant “extremely bizarre.” …sorry about that.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a forgettable 10-year period, despite all the losing. Up until this point (prior to the upcoming Week 17 game), this organization’s regular-season record is 70-89 in the decade. Obviously not great, but that doesn’t erase the fact that there are actually great moments to look back on. No, there’s not a ton. Nonetheless, there are definitely ones worth pondering over when discussing the overall history of this organization.
It all started with the opening of a new stadium for the first regular-season game of the decade on Sept. 12, 2010.
A new stadium brings upon a new era
The Giants were entering the new decade with new scenery surrounding them. Big Blue, along with their stadium-sharing rivals, the New York Jets, began play in the New Meadowlands Stadium at the beginning of the 2010 season. A $1.6 billion complex built right next to the old Giants Stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium sits 82,550 people and includes four jumbotrons, one on each corner of the field.
Big Blue’s final game in Giants Stadium at the end of the 2009 season was an absolute debacle. The Carolina Panthers soundly defeated them 41-9, which essentially ended any hopes of New York making the postseason that year. The Giants thus finished 8-8 after starting out 5-0.
Luckily, they played their first game of 2010 and their inaugural game in the new stadium against the same team. The Giants thus had a chance to serve revenge on Carolina… which they absolutely did.
New York came away with a 31-18 victory to ring in the new stadium and start the season off 1-0. Eli Manning, in his seventh year, threw for 263 yards on 20-of-30 passing with three touchdowns and three picks. Former Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks caught each touchdown, as he started off his sophomore campaign with a bang. Nicks racked up four receptions for 75 yards to go along with the trio of scores.
Former defensive backs Deon Grant, Kenny Phillips, and Terrell Thomas each picked off a pass from Panthers quarterback Matt Moore
Obviously, they’ve since changed the name of the complex to “MetLife Stadium.” They made the switch prior to the 2011 campaign.
Hello, Daniel Jones. Care to stay?
On Sept. 22, 2019, a new era began once again for the Giants. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones received his first-ever NFL start. He replaced Eli Manning, who started the first two games of the season prior to this Week 3 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How was it going to pan out? Would Jones struggle, forcing fans to call for Eli to start again? If we’re going to be completely honest, the game panned out perfectly.
With just over a minute to go in regulation, Jones and the Giants were down 31-25, facing a 4th-&-5 from the Tampa Bay seven-yard line. The first-year quarterback dropped back to pass, with the receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers parting like the red sea. Jones found a lane up the middle and crossed the plane for the game-tying score. The extra point thereafter gave the Giants a 32-31 lead.
Tampa Bay drove down the field afterward, only to have Matt Gay miss a game-winning 34-yard field goal attempt.
The win was the Giants’ first since Week 14 of the previous year. It was arguably their most important win since they defeated the Cowboys in Week 14 of the 2016 campaign. The 2017 and 2018 seasons didn’t comprise of many meaningful games for Big Blue, to say the least.
Jones finished with 336 yards passing and two touchdowns. He additionally rushed for 28 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. After that win, Giants fans went to work or school the following morning happy about their team for the first time in what felt like forever.
Thank you, Daniel Jones.
Reach back like one-three
On Nov. 23, 2014, Odell Beckham Jr. went from a great rookie to an absolute star. In the second quarter of a Week 12 home game against the Cowboys, the Giants were up 7-3. That’s when Eli Manning heaved a 43-yard touchdown pass to OBJ, one in which he caught with one hand on a near-full extension.
It was Beckham’s second touchdown reception of the game already and still one of the best catches a lot of us have ever witnessed to this day. Not to mention, Beckham was additionally held on the play by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr.
The catch went viral, as that moment will always be tied to the receiver’s legacy. It’s even been brought up in situations outside of football. In a 2016 song titled “Fake Love,” Drake raps “just when s–t looks out of reach, I reach back like one-three,” a nice tribute to Beckham and his No. 13 jersey.
Finally back to success… but not for long
The 2016 season was one to remember when you take a look at this past decade…mostly because it was an outlier. That campaign was just one of two seasons in this 10-year time period in which the Giants reached double-digit wins. It was additionally the only year where they won 10 or more games and made the postseason. The team’s 11-5 finish was the best regular-season finish this entire decade as well.
New York’s only losses that year were to the Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Steelers, and Eagles. They defeated the Cowboys twice for the first time since the 2011 season. Dallas finished 13-3 that year and was the top seed in the NFC.
The group within this 2016 team that contributed greatly to the clinching of a Wild Card spot was the defense. That side of the ball for Big Blue finished 10th in the league with 339.7 total yards allowed-per-game. Against the run, they were third in the league with 88.6 yards allowed-per-game.
The Giants thus produced four Pro Bowlers (Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins, Dwayne Harris, and Janoris Jenkins). They additionally produced two First-team AP All-Pros (Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Collins) and four Second-team AP All-Pros (Beckham, Olivier Vernon, Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).
Yes, they did lose in the Wild Card round to the Packers, a game in which they were actually blown out 38-13. There was also that whole fiasco with the boat picture that “contributed” to the team’s woes in Wisconsin the following weekend. Nonetheless, this group was the only Giants team to make their fans smile this decade with the exception of the Super Bowl-winning team in 2011.
Nice to see you, Bill and Tom. Remember us?
At 7-7, the Giants could’ve packed it in and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2011. They had just suffered a horrific loss to the under-achieving Redskins in Week 15 and had the option to just focus on the following year. But what team with legitimate heart and motivation would do that?
The Giants had to win their final two games against two of their most hated rivals in order to make the postseason. In Week 16, they took down the Jets on Christmas Eve by a score of 29-14 to improve to 8-7. The following week, they took part in the NFC East Championship against the 8-7 Cowboys. Behind three touchdown passes from Manning, the Giants won the game 31-14 and clinched their first division title and playoff berth since 2008.
The 2007 and 2011 playoffs were really similar for the Giants. This means one thing and one thing only: Eli became elite. The Giants took down the Falcons (24-2), the Packers (37-20), and the 49ers (20-17 OT) in the Wild Card round, Divisional round, and NFC Championship, respectively. In those three matchups, Manning combined to complete 61.8% of his throws for 923 yards, eight touchdowns, and one pick.
His efforts and accomplishments through the NFC playoffs were fascinating, similar to how they were four years prior. But just like in 2007, Eli had one more two-headed dragon to slay in the Super Bowl: the infamous duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
And again, just like in 2007, Eli found himself and his team needing a score late in the game. From deep in his own territory, down 17-15, Manning stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 38-yard strike to Mario Manningham down the left sideline. It was arguably one of the greatest throws you’ll ever see; over two defenders and in a spot where only Manningham could snatch it.
This eventually set up what was a go-ahead touchdown from Ahmad Bradshaw, one in which he tried to take a knee at the one-yard line but awkwardly fell into the end zone. Big Blue went up 21-17 with under a minute to go, failing the two-point conversion attempt thereafter.
On the Pats’ final possession, Brady set his team up for a Hail Mary try in the waning seconds, one that was batted away in the end zone as time expired. Manning was 30-for-40 in the game with 296 yards and one touchdown. His efforts earned him his second Super Bowl MVP and solidified what should be a Hall of Fame career.