This Sunday, the New York Giants will play the Washington Redskins for the 176th time since 1932. With a victory, the Giants will improve their record over the Skins to 100-68-4 in the regular season. They’ve faced off twice in the postseason — the Redskins won in 1943 and the Giants in 1987.
Today, we go back to 1986, the season that many Giant fans (present company included) thought we’d never see, and then it got here and we couldn’t believe it. The Giants had been an NFL doormat for the better part of a quarter-century and now were sitting on top of the heap, poised to win the Super Bowl for the first time.
The 1986 season began with the Giants losing the opener on Monday night to Hershel Walker and the Cowboys in Dallas, 31-28. They would only lose one more time over the next five months — 17-12 to the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 7.
Along the way, the Giants beat everyone in their path, specifically the Redskins, who they would take out three times on their way to winning Super Bowl XXI.
The first game took place on Monday night, October 27 at Giants Stadium. Yours truly was in his seat in Section 107 with his portable Sony Watchman to catch Game 7 of the World Series between the Mets and Red Sox. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was moved to Monday because of the rain (and the partying after Game 6).
At kickoff, the Giants were 5-2 and the Redskins, 6-1. The Giants were clearly in chawed fo the game, going up 20-3 early in the third quarter. The crowd was clearly distracted by the Mets’ game, which the Giants kindly kept tabs on by displaying updates on the scoreboards. The Giants may have been distracted as well, as the Redskins scored 17 unanswered points to tie the game at 20 in the fourth quarter.
For most of the game, the crowd of 75,923 at Giants Stadium cheered alternately for the Giants and the Mets. There were portable television sets everywhere in the stands. In Section 331, which has about 1,000 seats, at least 35 sets were seen.
There were cheers every time the Mets did something. There were cheers of ”Let’s Go, Mets.” Once, the sudden noise affected Joe Jacoby of the Redskins, and the veteran offensive tackle made a false start that cost his team a 5-yard penalty.
Fortunately for the Giants, the Mets wrapped things up in Flushing, riling up the crowd in time to cheer them on to a 27-20 win. The victory pulled the Giants into a three-way logjam atop the NFC East with Washington and Dallas.
Lawrence Taylor had three sacks of Washington quarterback Jay Schroeder that night, but pinched a nerve in his arm.
Running back Joe Morris carried 31 times for 181 yards, including the game-winning 13-yard scamper in the last two minutes. Morris also caught five passes for 59 yards.
Phil Simms completed 20 of 30 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown, a 30-yarder to Bobby Johnson.
The Giants would go undefeated the rest of the way, leaving the Cowboys in the dust but would have to fend off Washington until the very end. They played the Skins down in D.C. on December 7, defeating them, 24-14 and then shut them out, 17-0, at Giants Stadium in the NFC Championship Game.