Hakeem Nicks served notice on Sunday that he is ready to become a star at wide receiver for the New York Giants. His three touchdown catches meant he'd accomplished something already that Frank Gifford, Ike Hilliard, Homer Jones, even Stephen Baker had never done- and the latter was, as you know, "The Touchdown Maker".
Let's take a look at the most prolific Giant receivers, and how they followed up on their performances.
1. Earnest Gray: Gray actually holds the team record for touchdown receptions in a game- he is the only Giant to manage four of them in one game, Sept. 7, 1980 against the St. Louis Cardinals. In total, he had nine catches, 174 yards, all thanks to a young quarterback names Phil Simms.
The good times did not keep on rolling for Gray, Simms of the Giants- 1-0 turned into 4-12, Gray managed just 63 yards receiving on seven catches the following week in a 23-21 loss to Washington. He finished the season with 52 catches for 777 yards and 10 TDs.
2. Plaxico Burress: The most recent Giant to catch three TDs in a game, Burress did so on Sept. 9, 2007, but in a loss, 45-35 to Dallas. Burress caught eight passes overall for 144 yards. And the immediate follow-up was even worse for Big Blue, a 35-13 drubbing by Green Bay. Burress managed just two receptions for 32 yards in that one.
Things did get a bit better for the Giants over the remainder of the season though- 10-4 the rest of the way, storming through the playoffs, defeating the 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on a TD catch by ... Plaxico Burress. He finished the year with 70 catches, 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns.
3. Amani Toomer: One of my favorite Giants, Toomer managed the feat twice. The second time came on December 22, 2002 in a game against the Indianapolis Colts, a 44-27 win. Toomer caught 10 passes in all for 204 yards on the day, helping the Giants into the playoffs with 82 receptions for 1,343 yards and a career-best eight TDs.
What is remarkable about Toomer's season is that a few weeks later, he did it again- this time in the playoffs, January 5, 2003, at San Francisco. He had eight receptions, 136 yards and three touchdowns as New York built a 38-14 lead. I decided to turn the game off at that point, but can only assume they won.
4. Billy Taylor: Probably the least likely Giant to ever accomplish the feat, this running back managed three touchdown catches in a game despite collecting just four touchdown catches in his career. He turned in the performance on Dec. 9, 1979 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Taylor caught 28 passes on the season for the 6-10 Giants, but did rush for 700 yards. The Giants lost his big game, 29-20, thanks to 140 yards rushing by a young back named Ottis Anderson.
5. Del Shofner: The master of the hat trick, Shofner managed it four times for the Giants over 1961-1962 - twice against Washington, once against Philadelphia, once against Dallas. Three of the four performances came on the road, no less.
In none of the four did Shofner catch more than six passes, and only once did he surpass 125 yards receiving. He simply found the end zone. And to be clear, these were hardly isolated incidents: he managed 11, 12 and 9 touchdown receptions in 1961, 1962 and 1963, respectively, en route to All-Pro selections all three years.
As a Giants fan, it is worth hoping Nicks is more Shofner and less Taylor.