Famous Giants fan and author Frederick Exley wrote a piece for The New York Times two weeks after this game in which he bemoaned that the Giants would ultimately fail because of Simms. Simms, however, proved to be a tough field general who wouldn’t quit. He led the team to its first Super Bowl championship that year, forever silencing all critics.
Despite earning the respect of fans, teammates, and the media, the end of Simms’s career was somewhat ignominious. After Phil’s foot injury allowed the younger Jeff Hostetler to step forward and lead the Giants to a second title in 1990, a quarterback controversy was created, and new coach Ray Handley gave the starting nod to Hostetler in 1991. Simms didn’t get his starting job back till 1993 when, at age 37, he had one of the finest seasons of his 14-year career and led New York to the playoffs one last time.
Simms wanted to continue playing, but the Giants cut him in the off-season as a casualty of the new salary cap. He still dominates the Giants’ passing record blog, with more than 33,000 passing yards, 199 touchdowns, 21 games of more than 300 yards, 17 fourth-quarter comebacks, and 95 wins. The Giants retired his No. 11 jersey, and Phil has gone on to a very successful second career as a broadcaster. Phil Simms clutch completion to receiver Bobby Johnson on fourth down catapulted the Giants to victory over the Vikings in
Whenever the Giants met the 49ers in the 1980s, it was like a heavyweight championship boxing match between a puncher and a boxer. The Giants excelled at a smash-mouth, run-oriented game, while the 49ers relied on their pass-oriented West Coast offense. The two teams played several competitive games throughout the decade, so this mauling by the Giants in the 1986 postseason is notable for its one-sidedness. The game had begun to slip away from the 49ers by the end of the first half, but it was nose tackle Jim Burt’s brutal takedown of quarterback Joe Montana that fully decided the outcome.
Montana would best Giants quarterback Phil Simms in six of their nine head-to-head matchups over the years, but the Giants had roughed up Montana the previous year in the playoffs, and they had also come back from a 17-0 first-half deficit to beat the Niners in the 1986 regular season. Despite the fact that the Giants pulled out that game 21-17, Bill Parcells found just the needle to jab his offensive line as they prepared for the playoffs. One reason the Giants fell so far behind is that the team gained only 13 yards rushing all game. In the run-up to this divisional playoff game against those same 49ers, Parcells spent the week calling his offensive line “Club 13,” just his way of telling them that they needed to do a lot better.
The game began as a competitive affair. On the 49ers’ first series, Jerry Rice caught a slant from Montana at midfield with no blue shirts in front of him, and he headed for the goal line. At the 26-yard line, though, Rice inexplicably lost his grip on the football and was unable to pick up the bouncing ball. Trailing Giants safety Kenny Hill was able to fall on the ball in the end zone for a touchback. From the 20, Simms then led the Giants on an 80-yard drive, culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mark Bavaro. Before the first period ended, San Francisco answered with a field goal, but those three points would prove to be their only points of the game.
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A second key play was the fake field goal in the second quarter. Leading 14-3 with two minutes left, the Giants faced fourth-and-six at the 49ers’ 28. The field-goal unit that came onto the field included tight end Mark Bavaro (89) and fullbacks Maurice Carthon (44) and Tony Galbreath (30), who don’t usually perform on that squad. When holder Jeff Rutledge (17) called “Shift,” he rose up, Carthon shifted back, and the kicker, Raul Allegre (2), went out as a flanker. Allegre drew a defensive back in coverage even though he had never caught a pass in his life at any level.
Bavaro easily shed the linebacker who covered him and caught a 23-yard pass for a first-and-goal at the 5.
Behind an inspired front line, Morris had more than 100 yards rushing in the first half; he ended the day with 159.
At the end of the second quarter, the Giants put the game away in a series of superlative plays from the offense, defense, and special teams. The Giants had driven to the 49ers’ 28, where they faced a fourth-and-six. Parcells aggressively called for a fake field goal, and holder Jeff Rutledge hit Mark Bavaro for a 23-yard gain to the 5. After a holding call, Simms went back to pass from the 15. Just as Simms unloaded a 15-yard touchdown strike to Bobby Johnson, though, Dwaine Board drove Phil into the ground headfirst so that he never saw the play and left the field a bit woozy. The Giants led 21-3 with 50 seconds left in the half.
After the kickoff came the knockout blow from the defense. Montana went back to pass, looking for Rice. As he released the ball, nose tackle Jim Burt sent Montana flying backward; the quarterback landed on his head and was knocked unconscious. The pass was intercepted by Lawrence Taylor at the 34 and returned for a clinching touchdown. Montana, who had courageously come