Here are the top 10 plays of the New York Giants Super Bowl-winning season.
9. Hakeem Nicks Does The Dirty Bird
Against the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round, Hakeem Nicks made a catch across the middle and then scampered through the Attanta secondary for a touchdown. We knew Nicks could leap for jump balls but he looked more like a slot receiver on this run.
It was classic Eli Manning. Eli makes a poor throw into double coverage, the ball gets tipped an intercepted, right? Wrong. Even though, the Giants lost the game, this play is proof the football gods were over his shoulder this season. Cruz leapt for the ball with both hands, landed spun around 180 degrees, managed to track it down with one hand and then sprinted towards the end zone in one motion.
7. Devin Thomas’ NFC Championship fumble recovery
6. Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown catch & run
Trailing 7-3, in Week 16 to the New York Jets, the Giants began the possession at their own one-yard line. Cruz caught a dart from Manning, slipped between two falling defenders, raced up the sideline and beat Jets safety Eric Smith to the end zone. It was the last time the Giants would trail in the regular season.
5. Hakeem Nicks Packer Halftime Hail Mary
Leading the Packers 13-10, with six seconds remaining until halftime the Giants could have settled for a long field goal. Instead, Manning uncorked a perfect Hail Mary into the end zone. Miraculously, Nicks was able to leap and snatch the ball out of the air at the apex of his jump over two cornerbacks and pull it into this chest while getting dragged to the ground.
Tom Coughlin deserves just as much credit for this play as Jason Pierre-Paul because without him it wouldn’t have happened. The Giants led 34-37 when Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey kicked the game-tying field through the uprights as time expired. However, Coughlin has called timeout seconds before the snap. On the second attempt Pierre-Paul was able to get just enough of the ball to send the kick fluttering towards the turf, well short and sealed New York’s comeback victory.
3. Ahmad Bradshaw’s Accidental Super Bowl-Winning Touchdown
For a minute, I thought Bradshaw was taunting New Englands defense before he reached the endzone. Turns out he was simply trying to do his best Brian Westbrook impression by kneeling at the one-yard line so that the Giants could run down the clock and kick the field goal. I don’t understand the thought process for both teams on the play. After watching the way kickers have been so unreliable in big moments across the NFL and college football, why would anyone want to put themselves in that position? Belichick’s defense would have been better off trying to hold New York to a last second field goal otherwise they should have let Bradshaw run unimpeded into the end zone on the previous play. 58 seconds was an unreasonable amount of time to expect Brady to lead New England on a touchdown drive.
2. Eli.... to Manningham
On the first play of the final drive, Eli delivered a pass for the ages. Victor Cruz stared the ball into his hands but somehow had the awareness to keep his feet inbounds. The execution was flawless. It was the most dangerous play Manning could have made in that position but rather than make a safe play, Manning immediately went for the Patriots throat and achieved Super Bowl immortality for both himself and Manningham. This was the biggest play of the Giants season but it wasn't the best.
1. Domenik Hixon Tears ACL on One-Handed Circus Touchdown Catch
At the time, it was just another amazing catch on Monday night football. It didn’t win the game or anything of that nature but in retrospect this play had it all. Eli made a poor throw behind Hixon but over the cornerback. The ball bounced off Hixon’s shoulder pads, but he somehow managed to reel it in with one hand and juggled it even as he hit the ground before pulling it into his stomach He learned 24 hours later that he had torn his ACL after planting his leg to make the catch. The level of difficulty was so high even the Soviet judges would have given it a 9.5, it occurred on Monday Night Football and Hixon made the catch despite injuring his knee. Ultimately, Hixson's injured knee pushed Cruz into the lineup and it changed the course of Giants history. Hixon may become a footnote much like Trent Green in St. Louis or Drew Bledsoe in New England, however, his sacrifice—or his acrobatics should never be forgotten.