by Rob Joyce
It was the end of an era for the Giants on Monday. After missing the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, Tom Coughlin resigned as head coach, following a 12-year stint with the team. At 69 years old, Coughlin said in a statement that “the time is right for me and my family and… the Giants organization”.
The coach’s tenure with the team was one of the most successful in franchise history, and although it ended with a thud in 2015, these are the moments that make Coughlin a Giants’ legend:
5) Week 16, 2011:
Struggling to stay in the playoff race at 7-7, the Giants slumped into a “road” game against the Jets on Christmas Eve having lost four of five games. Down 7-3 early in the second quarter and stuck on their own 1-yard line, Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz, who went 99-yards for a score. It propelled the Giants to a 15-point win, and New York wouldn’t lose again that year.
4) Week 11, 2004:
The Giants finished 6-10 in 2004, losing eight of their final nine games. So why is a 14-10 loss to the Falcons one of Coughlin’s greatest moments? Because, after a 5-4 start with Kurt Warner under center, he handed the reigns of the offense to Eli Manning. Manning completed fewer than half his passes, and tossed nine interceptions to just six touchdowns that first year. However, the next year he took the leap to stardom, led the Giants to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance, and hasn’t missed a start in his career.
3) 2008 NFC Championship:
In the minus-23 degree wind chill of Lambeau Field the Giants and Packers headed to overtime tied at 20. Green Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive, but on the second play of the extra session Corey Webster picked off Brett Favre, giving the Giants the ball at the Packers’ 28-yard line. Two short runs and an incomplete pass left Lawrence Tynes a 47-yard field goal attempt in a windy and extremely cold environment. Tynes, who missed two field goals in the fourth quarter, split the uprights and sent the Giants to their first Super Bowl since 1991.
2) Super Bowl XLVI champions:
It’s the less-famous of the two Giants-Patriots Super Bowl tilts (more on the other in a second), but it was just as thrilling. Down 17-15 with 3:46 remaining and starting from their own 12-yard line, the Giants stormed down the field. Highlighted by a ridiculous sideline catch by Mario Manningham and Ahmad Bradshaw accidentally scoring a touchdown when he didn’t want to, New York took a 21-17 lead. The defense knocked down a Tom Brady Hail Mary as time expired, and for the second time in four years the Giants got the better of the Pats on the game’s biggest stage.
1) Super Bowl XLII champions:
The Giants were supposed to be the footnote in history, not the team who made it. At least that was the narrative heading into Super Bowl XLII, when the 10-6 Giants went to Glendale to face the 18-0 Patriots. New England had already beaten New York the month prior in Week 17 to cap off a perfect regular season, and now 60 minutes were all that separated Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Bill Belichick and company from football immortality.
Instead of that, though, the Giants’ pass rush pressured Brady all night, making him uncomfortable. Trailing 14-10 with 2:39 left and the ball on the 17-yard line, Eli Manning led the offense on a drive for the ages. Brandon Jacobs converted on 4th-and-1 with 1:34 left. Then, facing 3rd-and-5 from their own 44, perhaps the most famous play in Super Bowl history – David Tyree’s helmet catch.
Four plays later Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for a 13-yard score, and the Giants rewrote the history books with a 17-14 victory and, with Coughlin at the helm, guided the organization to a third Super Bowl, and a first in 17 years.