|1990 New York Giants season|
|General manager||George Young|
|Head coach||Bill Parcells|
|Home field||Giants Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFC East|
|Playoff finish||Won Divisional Playoffs (vs. Bears) 31–3|
Won NFC Championship (at 49ers) 15–13
Won Super Bowl XXV (vs. Bills) 20–19
The 1990 New York Giants season was the franchise's 66th season in the National Football League. The Giants, who play in the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL), won their sixth championship and second Super Bowl. Led by linebacker Lawrence Taylor and quarterbacks Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler, the Giants posted a 13–3 record before defeating the Chicago Bears and the two-time defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs. In Super Bowl XXV, they defeated the Buffalo Bills 20–19 in Tampa Stadium against a patriotic backdrop inspired by the recently started Gulf War. The story of the season is the subject of a recent book, When the Cheering Stops, by defensive end Leonard Marshall and CBSsports.com co-writer William Bendetson.
After making the playoffs in 1989, the Giants entered the 1990 season as a Super Bowl favorite, though most believed they stood little chance of stopping the 49ers. The Giants began the season with a 27–20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, then won their next nine games before losing a rematch to Philadelphia 31–13 in Week 12. The Giants also lost close games to the 49ers on the road and to the Bills at home in the regular season before defeating both teams in playoff rematches. In the Week 15 game against Buffalo, starting quarterback Phil Simms was injured and ultimately lost for the season with a broken foot. He was replaced by Hostetler, who did not lose a game. The Giants' defense led the NFL in fewest points allowed (211), and the team set an NFL record by committing only 14 turnovers in the regular season. After the season, seven Giants were selected to the Pro Bowl.
In 2007, ESPN.com ranked the 1990 Giants' defense as the sixth-greatest in NFL history, noting that the team "allowed only 13.2 points a game against a very tough schedule – they played against seven playoff teams during the regular season. Led by Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor and First Team All-Pro inside linebacker Pepper Johnson, New York's defense also came through in the playoffs, holding the Bears to just three points in the divisional playoff game. The Giants then held a resilient 49ers offense to just two field goals and one touchdown, and set up the game-winning score by both forcing and recovering a late Roger Craig fumble involving NT Erik Howard and OLB Lawrence Taylor to win the NFC Championship Game 15–13. In Super Bowl XXV, the Giant defense held its own against the Bills' no-huddle offense while the Giants' offense executed long methodical drives that gave the Giants a time of possession advantage of 2-to-1, and New York won 20–19."
The Giants had 11 selections in the 12-round 1990 NFL Draft and took running back Rodney Hampton in the first round with the #24 overall selection. They took defensive end Mike Fox from West Virginia University in the second round (#51 overall) and linebacker Greg Mark (#79 overall) of the University of Miami in the third round. Kicker Matt Stover was selected in the 12th round but spent the season on injured reserve.
|New York Giants 1990 coaching staff|
Special teams coaches
|1||at Buffalo Bills||W 20–6||1–0||Rich Stadium||Recap|
|2||at Houston Oilers||W 13–10||2–0||Astrodome||Recap|
|3||New York Jets||W 17–7||3–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|4||Cleveland Browns||W 28–10||4–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|1||September 9||Philadelphia Eagles||W 27–20||1–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|2||September 16||at Dallas Cowboys||W 28–7||2–0||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|3||September 23||Miami Dolphins||W 20–3||3–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|4||September 30||Dallas Cowboys||W 31–17||4–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|6||October 14||at Washington Redskins||W 24–20||5–0||RFK Stadium||Recap|
|7||October 21||Phoenix Cardinals||W 20–19||6–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|8||October 28||Washington Redskins||W 21–10||7–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|9||at Indianapolis Colts||W 24–7||8–0||Hoosier Dome||Recap|
|10||November 11||at Los Angeles Rams||W 31–7||9–0||Anaheim Stadium||Recap|
|11||November 18||Detroit Lions||W 20–0||10–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|12||November 25||at Philadelphia Eagles||L 13–31||10–1||Veterans Stadium||Recap|
|13||at San Francisco 49ers||L 3–7||10–2||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|14||December 9||Minnesota Vikings||W 23–15||11–2||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|15||Buffalo Bills||L 13–17||11–3||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|16||December 23||at Phoenix Cardinals||W 24–21||12–3||Sun Devil Stadium||Recap|
|17||December 30||at New England Patriots||W 13–10||13–3||Foxboro Stadium||Recap|
See also: 1990 Philadelphia Eagles season
The Giants started the season with a 27–20 home win over the Philadelphia Eagles ending a four game losing streak to the Eagles. Despite sitting out training camp and the preseason in a contract dispute, linebacker Lawrence Taylor recorded three sacks and a forced fumble. The Giants' defense forced three turnovers and held the Eagles to 83 rushing yards. The Giants' offense scored three touchdowns in a 13-minute span in the third and early fourth quarters, but head coach Bill Parcells felt the offensive performance was lackluster overall: "Our runners didn't run the way we wanted them to. They were a little impatient. There were five or six vivid examples of cutting back too soon. You just have to give the play a chance and let it go where it's supposed to."
See also: 1990 Dallas Cowboys season
With temperatures reaching 122° on the artificial turf at Texas Stadium, the Giants played the Dallas Cowboys on September 16. The Giants dominated from the outset and used backup players heavily throughout the game. Lawrence Taylor batted a Troy Aikman pass high into the air, which he caught and returned for a touchdown. The Giants' defense held the Cowboys to 20 rushing yards and 156 yards of total offense, while the Giants' offense gained 369 yards. The Cowboys totaled only nine first downs, averaged 1.8 yards per rush and were dominated in time of possession, 41:40 to 18:20. Despite the 28–7 victory, Giants center Bart Oates still felt the offense could improve its play: "[w]e missed a lot of assignments. We rushed the ball O.K., but not like we did against Buffalo in preseason. Phil was pressured some. There were plenty of things we didn't do."
See also: 1990 Miami Dolphins season
On September 23 at Giants Stadium, before 76,483 fans, the Giants met the Miami Dolphins for the first time since the Dolphins' undefeated 1972 season. Miami held the ball for only 19:42, and totaled only 158 yards of offense. The Giants' offense set the tone by holding the ball for 10:25 on the opening drive, leading to a field goal by Raúl Allegre. Holding Dan Marino to 119 total yards, and 3.6 yards per passing attempt, the Giants prevailed by a score of 20–3. Parcells was criticized by the local media for playing Taylor in the final moments, despite the lopsided score, after he had injured his hamstring.
The Giants faced the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 before 75,923 fans at Giants Stadium. The Giants' defense held the Cowboys to 51 rushing yards on 20 attempts, and the Giants controlled the ball for 35:38. Giants quarterback Phil Simms threw three touchdowns, and backup Jeff Hostetler ran for a 12-yard score late in the fourth quarter. Although the Giants' league-leading defense gave up 284 yards, 84 came on the Cowboys' final possession when the Giants played a prevent defense. Simms threw touchdown passes to Mark Ingram and Rodney Hampton, and the Giants built a 31–10 early in the fourth quarter before pulling their starters and allowing a Dallas touchdown.
See also: 1990 Washington Redskins season
The Giants used their bye week to allow injured players such as linebacker Carl Banks, running back Rodney Hampton, special teamer Reyna Thompson, defensive lineman Erik Howard and offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott to recover from injuries. They played the Washington Redskins on the road the following week. The Giants forced four turnovers and won despite losing the time of possession battle, 35:28 to 24:32. Defensive coordinator Bill Belichick singled out free safety Greg Jackson, who had two interceptions, after the 24–20 win: "Jackson must have had 10 interceptions in practice, and if ever the cliche held true about a player playing the way he practices, it was so this week."
See also: 1990 Phoenix Cardinals season
In Week 7, the Giants faced the Phoenix Cardinals in front of 76,518 fans at Giants Stadium. They rushed for 151 yards on 31 carries, and committed only four penalties for 24 yards. Their defense held the Cardinals to 96 passing yards and 221 yards of total offense. With 5:38 left in the game, the Cardinals–13-point underdogs—extended their lead to 19–10, and had knocked Simms out of the game. However, the Giants came back with a 38-yard touchdown from Jeff Hostetler to Stephen Baker, and Hostetler then led a late drive culminating in a game-winning 40-yard field goal by Matt Bahr to win 20–19. The Giants' tone was subdued in their locker room after the win. "It wasn't pretty", said Taylor. "But you don't ask how to win, you just win."
At home in front of 75,321 fans, the Giants played the Washington Redskins in Week 8. Each team totaled 16 first downs, four punts and five penalties, and the difference in time of possession was less than one minute. However, the Giants committed no turnovers while coercing three from the Redskins. Giants cornerback Everson Walls intercepted two passes—including one that he returned for his first career touchdown—and free safety Greg Jackson intercepted another. Walls' interception set up a Giants touchdown and a 14–0 lead in the second quarter. Jackson then intercepted a pass in the end zone in the third quarter to preserve a 14–10 lead, and Walls returned his second interception 28 yards for a touchdown that made the score 21–10 and put the game of reach in the fourth quarter.
at Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Giants improved to 8–0 with a 24–7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in front of 56,688 in the Hoosier Dome. The Giants' defense held the Colts to 11 first downs, 181 total yards and 55 rushing yards. Simms completed 17 of 21 passes for 172 yards, with no touchdowns and was picked once, which ended his streak of 150 passes without an interception. Defensive end Leonard Marshall sacked Colts quarterback Jeff George twice, Dave Duerson returned a fumble for a touchdown and the Giants' defense held George to 160 yards passing on 37 pass attempts. The Giants controlled the game from the start, ending the first half leading 17–0, and besting the Colts 206 to 45 in total yards, 13 to 1 in first downs and 20:57 to 9:03 in time of possession.
at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California
The Giants traveled to face the Los Angeles Rams on November 11, winning 31–7 in front of 64,632 fans at Anaheim Stadium and led by Simms' efficient passing. The Rams had beaten the Giants three times in the past two years, including one win in the 1989 playoffs. Although the Giants were able to sack Rams quarterback Jim Everett just twice, they limited him to 17-of-36 passing for 186 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. "It's hard to sack him", Belichick said. "But we kept the pressure on. We had the same coverage we used the last eight years. Nothing radically different."
The Giants defeated the Detroit Lions 20–0 in Week 11 to improve to 10–0, and set a franchise record for wins to start to a season. Simms threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mark Ingram in the second quarter to run the score to 17–0. After the Giants kicked a field goal to make the score 20–0, the teams played a scoreless second half. The shutout was the Giants' first of the season, and coach Parcells commented, "[t]he defense played very well. The offense played well when I let them. We played conservatively in the second half. We played pretty much error-free. We didn't do anything stupid."
The Giants were dealt their first loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on November 25 by a score of 31–13, dropping their record to 10–1. The Eagles broke open a close game by scoring two touchdowns in 22 seconds in the fourth quarter. The game was marked by several scuffles, and after the game some of the Giants players complained of the tactics used by the Eagles. The Eagles amassed 179 rushing yards and 405 total yards, and punted the ball just twice. Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham rushed for 66 yards while completing 17 of 31 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Taylor, who recorded three sacks and seven tackles in the Giants' season-opening victory over the Eagles, was held to one tackle in the loss.
at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
The San Francisco 49ers matched the Giants with their own 10–0 start in the 1990 season. Although both teams lost in week 12 to stand at 10–1, their week 13 matchup was still highly anticipated. The game took place in front of 66,092 fans at Candlestick Park. The 49ers scored the only touchdown of the game in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass from Joe Montana to John Taylor. With four minutes left, they stopped the Giants on four passes from the 49ers' 9-yard line and went on to win, 7–3, after which 49ers safety Ronnie Lott and Simms had a heated verbal exchange. The Giants defense performed well in the loss. They held the 49ers to 152 passing yards, 88 rushing yards, and limited All-Pro Wide receiver Jerry Rice to one reception for 13 yards. 49ers defensive end Charles Haley recorded five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in the victory.
The Giants hosted the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14. Led by Taylor, who recorded 12 tackles and two sacks, the Giants' defense held the Vikings to 132 passing yards. Taylor also forced a fumble by Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon and pressured Gannon into an interception by Gary Reasons at the Minnesota 17-yard line, which positioned Matt Bahr for the game-clinching 18-yard field goal. In addition, Taylor gave several inspirational speeches to his teammates. "He told us: 'I'm going to start playing the way we're supposed to play. If anybody wants to come along, fine,' " inside linebacker Steve DeOssie said. "He changed our attitude." The Giants won 23–15 to improve to 11–2. Prior to this game, Parcells had been hospitalized for kidney stones.
In what would turn out to be a preview of Super Bowl XXV, the Giants lost at home to the Buffalo Bills 17–13 in Week 15. The game was played in inclement weather, which caused 10,295 no-shows at Giants Stadium. They led the Bills in total yards (313 to 264), rushing yards (157 to 65), first downs (20 to 13) and time of possession (37:59 to 22:01), but lost nonetheless. Simms broke his foot during the game, causing him to miss the remainder of the season, and was replaced by Jeff Hostetler, who had engineered the Giants' Week 7 fourth-quarter comeback against Phoenix. The Bills built a 14–10-second quarter lead behind 74- and 78-yard touchdown drives. The teams alternated field goals to make the score 17–13. However, the Giants could not score in the fourth quarter despite mounting drives to the Bills' 18 and 23 yard lines. This was Lionel Manuel's last game as a Giant, as he was waived afterwards.
at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
The Giants played the Phoenix Cardinals in Tempe, Arizona in Week 16. Their defense allowed 452 yards, and Cardinals quarterback Timm Rosenbach threw for three touchdowns and set a new career high with 381 yards passing. The Giants noticed in the week leading up to the game that teams had success running with their fullback against the Cardinals, and in the game, Giants fullback Maurice Carthon set a career high with 67 rushing yards on 12 carries. They also installed several plays to take advantage of quarterback Jeff Hostetler's scrambling ability. Hostetler threw for 191 yards and ran for 31 in his first start of the season. The Giants held on to win 24–21 when two of the Cardinals' fourth-quarter drives ended with interceptions and their final drive was ended by a Taylor sack. The win clinched the NFC's #2 seed (over the Chicago Bears) and a first-round bye for the playoffs.
at Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
The Giants travelled to Massachusetts to face the 1-14 New England Patriots at Foxboro Stadium in Week 17. The game was a de facto home game - the Patriots' penultimate home game drew barely 20,000 fans, so tens of thousands of Giants fans made the trip up to Foxborough to sell the stadium out. While the anemic Patriots had been long eliminated from playoff contention, the game had no playoff implications for the Giants either since they could not surpass the 49ers for the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Giants rushed for a season-high 213 yards, led by Hostetler's 82 yards on 10 carries. The Patriots' Jason Staurovsky missed a potential game-tying 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and Hostetler then ran a 30-yard bootleg on a key third-down play to allow the Giants to run out the clock and secure the victory, 13–10.
|(2) New York Giants||13||3||0||.813||7–1||10–2||335||211||W2|
|(4) Philadelphia Eagles||10||6||0||.625||5–3||9–3||396||299||W3|
|(5) Washington Redskins||10||6||0||.625||4–4||7–5||381||301||W1|
The Giants finished the regular season having committed an NFL record-low 14 turnovers, and their defense led the league in fewest points allowed (211).
|Divsional||January 13, 1991||Chicago Bears (3)||W 31–3||1–0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|NFC Championship||January 20, 1991||at San Francisco 49ers (1)||W 15–13||2–0||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|Super Bowl XXV||January 27, 1991||Buffalo Bills (A1)||W 20–19||3–0||Tampa Stadium||Recap|
The Giants defeated the Chicago Bears 31–3 at home in the NFC Divisional playoff game on January 13, 1991. Ottis Anderson rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries, and the Giants rushed for 194 yards overall, dominating time of possession; with more than 38 minutes on offense. Parcells, at the suggestion of Belichick, used a four-man defensive line most of the game—as opposed to the Giants' traditional 3-4 defense—confusing the unprepared Bears, who had trouble with their blocking assignments. The Giants were 4-for-4 on fourth-down plays and converted 6 of 14 third downs. The Giants' defense stopped the Bears on the goal line on a fourth-down attempt in the second quarter and held Bears quarterback Mike Tomczak to 17-of-36 passing for 205 yards and two interceptions. Bears running back Neal Anderson was kept to a season-low 19 yards on 12 carries. Hostetler threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third.
at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
The Giants advanced to face the two-time defending champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game on January 20, 1991, in front of 65,750 fans at Candlestick Park. The game was a rematch of the 7–3 49ers win one month earlier. The teams alternated field goals in the first and second quarter to make the score 6–6 at halftime. Less than five minutes into the third quarter, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor to give San Francisco a 13–6 lead. A Giants field goal made the score 13–9 at the end of the third quarter. With 9:42 remaining in the game, Leonard Marshall sacked and injured Montana, who left the game. The Giants got the ball back, but were stopped on a key third down and one. On fourth down, Parcells called a fake punt, and fortunately for the Giants the 49ers only had 10 men on the field, which resulted in a long run by Gary Reasons to set up another Giants field goal, making the score 13–12. The 49ers then attempted to run out the clock, but Giants nose tackle Erik Howard made a key play, fighting through a double-team to knock the ball out of running back Roger Craig's possession by getting his helmet on the football. Lawrence Taylor fought through a block at the line of scrimmage applied by tight end Brent Jones and a subsequent block by fullback Tom Rathman to position himself at Craig's location along the line of scrimmage to catch Howard's forced fumble in mid-air, which gave the ball to the Giants at their own 43-yard line. Hostetler completed passes to Bavaro and Baker, advancing the Giants to within Matt Bahr's field-goal range. Bahr's fifth made kick of the day, a 42-yarder with no time left on the clock, gave the Giants a 15–13 victory.
With the win, not only did the Giants advance to their second Super Bowl, they became and still remain as the only team in NFL history to defeat a two-time repeat Super Bowl champion in the playoffs on the road.
at Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Main article: Super Bowl XXV
Super Bowl XXV took place amidst a background of war and patriotism in front of 73,813 fans at Tampa Stadium, in Tampa, Florida. The Gulf War had begun less than two weeks previous and the nation rallied around the Super Bowl as a symbol of America. Adding to the patriotic feeling was Whitney Houston's stirring rendition of the national anthem, perhaps the greatest in Super Bowl history. The game itself was among the most competitive Super Bowls ever played. The Giants got off to a quick 3–0 lead. However, the Bills scored the next 12 points, on a field goal, a touchdown by backup running back Don Smith and a safety after Jeff Hostetler was sacked in the end zone by Bruce Smith. Down 12-3, the Giants ran a drive that took nearly eight minutes and culminated in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hostetler to Stephen Baker, making the score 12–10 at halftime.
The Giants received the second-half kickoff and mounted a drive during which they converted on five third-down plays over the course of more than nine minutes (a Super Bowl record) and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Ottis Anderson, giving the Giants a 17–12 lead. The signature play of the drive came on a third-down play, when Giants receiver Mark Ingram appeared about to be tackled well short of a first down. However, Ingram evaded several tacklers, dragging one defender in the process, to gain just enough yards for a first down. The Giants' strategy to handle the Bills' potent offense had become clear: keep them off the field. The Giants' two touchdown drives consumed over 17 minutes.
The Bills struck back quickly. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Thurman Thomas ran for a 31-yard touchdown that put the Bills back in front, 19–17. A few possessions later, the Giants drove down to the Bills' 4-yard line but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Matt Bahr that gave the Giants a 20–19 lead. Both teams exchanged possessions before the Bills began one final drive. The Bills drove down to the Giants' 30-yard line to set up a game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt by Scott Norwood. Just before the kick, ABC showed a graphic indicating that, on grass that season, Norwood had only made three of seven field goals from at least 40 yards, and that the 47-yarder would be Norwood's longest ever on grass. A few moments later, in what became the game's signature moment, Norwood's attempt missed wide right, and the Giants won their second Super Bowl in five years, 20–19.
The Giants set a Super Bowl record for time of possession with a mark of 40:33, and Ottis Anderson was named MVP of the game after rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown.