This isn’t a Throwback Thursday, nor is it Flashback Friday, but here on Christmas Day, we’re going to take a look back at history anyway.
Seven years ago, almost to the very day, wide receiver Victor Cruz gifted the New York Giants with a franchise-altering 99-yard touchdown against their in-state rivals, the New York Jets.
On Christmas Even in 2010, the Giants were 7-7 and facing a critical two-game stretch with their playoff lives on the lines. On the other sideline, the Rex Ryan-led Jets were coming off their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance and, at 8-6, were battling to get back into the playoffs.
For one team and their fans, it was going to be a Merry Christmas. For the other team and their fans, it would be coal in their stockings and booze in their eggnog.
Late in the second quarter, the Jets were leading 7-3, had the Giants pinned at the one-yard line and momentum had swung in Gang Green’s favor. With another stop, it felt like the Jets would have a chance to bury the Giants once and for all.
It was not meant to be, however. Instead, wide receiver Victor Cruz would deliver like Santa Claus.
On a third-and-10, quarterback Eli Manning connected with Cruz around the 11-yard line. With a quick juke, Cruz escaped a tackle and then took off. 99 yards later, the MetLife Stadium crowd erupted, Cruz broke out the salsa and the Giants would ultimately be propelled to a 29-14 victory.
It was a Christmas miracle that helped fuel the Giants en route to a Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots. And to this day, it still eats away at Rex Ryan.
“There’s no question it sticks with you,” Ryan told Newsday in 2015. “It was Christmas Eve, we were in complete control, third-and-10, and they hit the 99-yard touchdown pass.
“If you could point to a play that turned not just the game around, but maybe the season around, it was that play. The Giants came out a totally different team, and they carried it through. It changed their fortune, and it certainly changed ours with that play and that loss.”
The Giants failed to deliver a Christmas gift this year, falling to the Indianapolis Colts, 28-27, in Week 16. But that doesn’t eliminate the fun in looking back at the day Big Blue buried Gang Green and Rex Ryan.