Thursday, October 25, 2007

The New York Giants Five Worst Losses, Part Three

3) 2002 NFC Wildcard Game
San Francisco 39—New York 38

Late in the 3d quarter, with his team leading 35-14, Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey dropped what should have been an easy 3-yard touchdown catch and his team settled for a field goal. But really, what could it have mattered? A 38-14 lead late in the third quarter already had Giants fans looking ahead to the divisional playoffs. Maybe they should have remembered they were Giants’ fans. The Niners proceeded to score on their next three drives, 19 points in all, and suddenly it was 38-33. Finally responding to San Francisco’s assault, the Giants put together a drive and moved from their own 36 to the San Francisco 24. The Niners stopped Tiki Barber a yard shy of a first down on third-and-two. With just over three minutes left, kicker Matt Bryant came on to try a field goal with Trey Junkin snapping the ball. Earlier in the week, New York signed Junkin to replace their regular snapper who had torn his thumb ligaments. Junkin's snap was bad and Bryant consequently hooked the 42-yard field goal attempt. No good. With a chance to take the lead, San Francisco QB Jeff Garcia drove his team 68 yards in two minutes, tossing a 13-yard TD pass to Tai Streets for the go-ahead score with only a minute left. The Niners missed the two-point conversion though, allowing the Giants a chance to win the game with just a field goal. Racing against the clock, Kerry Collins drove his team deep into Niners’ territory. Six seconds remained, enough time for a 41-yard field goal attempt. Enter Trey Junkin. Once again he made a terrible snap, one that holder Matt Allen couldn't handle to set up the kick in time. Grabbing the ball, Allen alertly ran to his right and lofted a desperation pass downfield to guard Rich Seubert. With the ball still in the air, San Francisco defensive end Chike Okeafor blatantly pushed Seubert to prevent a catch. Obvious pass interference. The officials threw a flag, but not for pass interference! No, the refs caught Giants’ guard Tam Hopkins illegally running downfield on the pass attempt. Penalty declined. Game over. The Giants had blown a 24-point lead, the second-biggest collapse in NFL postseason history and the biggest collapse by any Giants’ team anytime, anywhere. To rub further salt in the wound, the next day the NFL's director of officiating admitted the refs should have indeed called a defensive pass interference penalty on the final play of the game. That would have resulted in offsetting penalties and given the Giants a second shot at a field goal. Apparently the officials mistakenly believed Seubert to be an ineligible receiver even though he’d reported to the officiating crew prior to the game as an eligible receiver on field goal attempts. After it was all over Giants coach Jim Fassell said the game, Trey Junkin’s NFL swan song, was about the worst loss he’d ever felt in his entire life.

Related Posts:

Part One

Part Two

Part Four

Part Five

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