Lombardo NJ.com: Super Bowl 2019: How far are Giants away from competing for fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy? | Hall of Famers, ex-players and coaches weigh in
Raanan ESPN NY: Giants' Saquon Barkley lives up to the hype during rookie seaso
Schwartz NYP: Giants’ Saquon Barkley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Dunleavy NJ.com: NFL Honors: Giants' Saquon Barkley wins Offensive Rookie of the Year, ‘chain’ bet with Browns' Baker Mayfield
Rock Newsday: Giants' Saquon Barkley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year
Stapleton The Record: Giants running back Saquon Barkley wins NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Eisen Giants.com: Hall of Famers react to Saquon's record-setting debut
““I like his attitude,” the 82-year-old [Jim] Brown said Saturday evening. “He had to fit in and he’s done that. And he contributes. And he can accelerate. And he’s built in a manner that he’s hard to bring down. He has a freshness about him and an attitude about hm. He understands the game. So he is one of those rare guys that there’s no negative about him.”
““I am so proud of him,” said [Franco] Harris, who rushed for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns in a 13-year career, the first 12 spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I loved watching his game and what he accomplished this year and the type of individual he is. I’m real proud of him. He deserves (the Rookie of the Year Award) so much with the year that he had. I’m hoping this is just the start for him.”
““I’ve had an opportunity to talk to Saquon a couple of times,” [LaDainian] Tomlinson said. “I spent a little time with him in training camp. The kid has a great head on his shoulders. At this point, I don’t think he needs much advice, because he’s doing everything the right way. He’s intelligent. He’s a great player, but also he’s doing it the right way off the field.”
Cores El Diario NY: Will Hernández, orgullo hispano de Giants: “Seas mexicano, latino… sí se puede llegar a la NFL”
Lombardo NJ.com: The amazing story of how Giants rookie Grant Haley's surreal football journey might just save his mother's life
Volin Boston Globe: Sunday Football Notes:
Patriots’ rivals have gone soft in retirement;
How the players deal with a long week at the SB; Emptying out the notebook with Patriots nuggets; Rams are making their mark in LA; 2024 HOF class gets its first member, more!
Gramling MMQB: The Patriots Are Never Going to Die, Belichick vs. McVay Is the Matchup That Matters, New England Secondary Gets It Right This Time
Babb Washington Post: For young leaders such as Sean McVay, inexperience can be a hidden advantage
Maiorana Rochester Democrat: Bills hire Ken Dorsey as new QBs coach, and he now has a huge job with Josh Allen
Biggs Chicago Tribune: Matt Nagy caps his 1st Bears season with the NFL Coach of the Year Award
Dehner Cincinnati Enquirer: BX: Could the Bengals be the next Rams?
Cabot Cleveland Plain Dealer: Baker Mayfield loses out to Saquon Barkley for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Hill Fort Worth Star Telegram: Jerry Jones confirms Jason Garrett is coaching for his job, ‘We have been there before’
O’Halloran Denver Post: Pat Bowlen selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Monarrez Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions feel far as ever from winning Super Bowl
Wood Mil JS: The making of Matt LaFleur: A perfect pedigree for Packers
Doyel Indianapolis Star: Colts keep winning with Andrew Luck, Darius Leonard and more — lots more
Erickson Indianapolis Star: 2018 season 'reinvigorated' NFL Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck
Erickson Indianapolis Star: Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard: 'I definitely surprised myself
Gregorian KC Star: On a Chiefs day like no other, their past is honored, their present, future affirmed
Pryor KC Star: All hail The Kid: quarterback Patrick Mahomes earns Chiefs’ first NFL MVP award
Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez)
2/2/19, 9:17 PM
Source tells me & #8294;& #8234;Chiefs& #8236;& #8297; made run at hiring Antonio Pierce as their new LBs coach but he's staying at Arizona State
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Hoffman NYT: Los Angeles bet on the Rams team culture, and its research, when adding Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler and Marcus Peters to bolster the defense. It helped the team make the Super Bowl
Hernandez LA Times: Sorry Rams, there's a problem with Todd Gurley and there's no denying it
Stroud TB Times: Dante Fowler found his game, and restored his name, with the Rams
Schwartz NYP: How former Giant worked his way into Super Bowl picture
Salguero Miami Herald: A friendship that began as NFL scouts led Grier to hire Brian Flores as Dolphins head coach
Volin Boston Globe: Patriots’ success redefines what constitutes a dynasty
Reiss ESPN Boston: Quick-hit thoughts/notes around Patriots & NFL (Tom Brady and his kids; a change-up with Sunday arrival at SB53; flight code UDG344; Trent Harris as Aaron Donald in practice; steady Nick Caserio a stockbroker at heart; defensive mentality on 4th down etc.)
Sullivan Boston Globe: We asked those close to him: ‘Tell us one thing about Bill Belichick we don’t know’
Daniels Providence Journal: Do you remember the Patriots' first Super Bowl win? Most of Brady's teammates can't
Speier Boston Globe: How have the Patriots adjusted to Josh Gordon’s departure?
Daniels Providence Journal: Is Gronk the GOAT? He did his best
Hewitt Boston Herald: Moses Cabrera’s conditioning program critical to Patriots’ health, success
NEW YORK JETS
Cimini ESPN NY: Jets have enough chips to be active in trade market (Antonio Brown?)
NFL.com: Eagles expected to pick up Foles' option
Bowen Phil.com: Report: Eagles are expected to exercise Nick Foles' option; then what?
“There seems to be little reason the Eagles wouldn’t exercise the option. If they don’t do so by Feb. 10, he becomes a free agent. If they exercise the option, Foles can still become a free agent by paying back $2 million of his signing bonus.
Either way, the Eagles would be in line for a compensatory draft pick next year; if they don’t pick up the option, they are just out $2 million that they explicitly negotiated for when they redid Foles' contract following last year’s Super Bowl triumph. Foles has five days after the Eagles exercise their option to decide what to do.
The Eagles could pick up the option and try to trade Foles. Presumably, he would have to agree on a destination, and agree to not pay the $2 million to buy his freedom. A trade partner would then have Foles under contract for $20 million, as a basis for talks on an extended deal.
If Foles bought his freedom, the Eagles could still franchise-tag him for as much as $25 million. They would have a lot of trouble getting under the projected $190 million salary cap with Foles at $20 million or $23 million, and other teams might just wait them out.
In any case, Carson Wentz seems set to be the Eagles quarterback in 2019, and Foles will head elsewhere. The Eagles will either get something for him right now, or they will get a 2020 compensatory pick -- unless they sign a really pricey free agent who offsets the loss of Foles.”
Kapadia The Athletic: Eagles likely bluffing with franchise tag threat as they fish for Nick Foles trade partner
Mullin Phillyvoice: Eagles reportedly expected to pick up Nick Foles' option for 2019 season
McLane Phil.com: Eagles' Chris Long named the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
Chan NBC Bay Area: Kyle Shanahan explains how NFL Next Gen data helps 49ers in practice
Arthur Seattle PI: Seahawks legend Easley: Bobby Wagner is Hall of Fame player 'right now'
Dunleavy NJ.com: Super Bowl 2019: Rutgers' Logan Ryan has no regrets as Patriots play for ring while he plays for Titans
Sikkema The Draft Network: SWEET SPOTS FOR EVERY POSITION IN 2019 NFL DRAFT
Birkett Detroit Free Press: Dwayne Haskins talks about 2019 NFL draft at Super Bowl LIII (Video)
The Draft Network: 2019 NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE: RYAN DAVIS
Kelly The Draft Network: IN THE FILM ROOM WITH DARIUS SLAYTON
The Draft Network: 2019 NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE: DEVIN WHITE
Crabbs The Draft Network: TWO-MINUTE TRAIT: MACK WILSON’S PATIENCE
Serby NYP: Breaking down Super Bowl, NFL with Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason
Former Bengals and Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason and Giants Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms, both of whom are analysts for CBS’ Super Bowl LIII pregame show, huddled with Steve Serby for some Q& A.
Giants on 2-03-2008 Giants 17 Patriots 14
Pass Manning 34-19-255-2-1
Rush Bradshaw 9-45-0
Rec Toomer 6-84-0
Rec Tyree 3-43-1
Rec Burress 2-27-1
Tackles/Assists Butler 10-1-1 for loss
Tackles/Assists Pierce 8-3
Sacks Tuck 2.0
Eli Manning QB TR-SD 2004
Brandon Jacobs RB D4 2005
Amani Toomer WR D2 1996
Plaxico Burress WR FA-PIT 2005
Michael Matthews TE UDFA 2007
Kevin Boss TE D5 2007
David Diehl LT D5 2003
Rich Seubert LG UDFA 2001
Shaun O'Hara C FA-CLE 2004
Chris Snee RG D2 2004
Kareem McKenzie RT FA-NYJ 2005
Michael Strahan LDE D2 1993
Fred Robbins DT FA-MIN 2004
Barry Cofield DT D4 2006
Osi Umenyiora RDE D2 2003
Reggie Torbor SLB D4 2004
Antonio Pierce MLB FA-WAS 2005
Kawika Mitchell WLB FA- KC 2007
Aaron Ross LCB D1 2007
Corey Webster RCB D2 2005
James Butler SS UDFA 2005
Gibril Wilson FS D5 2004
Layden SI: THEY'RE HISTORY
“This time the celebration was for the youngest child of a football family, and for the team he helped carry to an unlikely championship. A year ago in Miami, Eli Manning had seen his older brother Peyton transformed by a Super Bowl championship. He had seen Peyton walk into his own victory party so blissfully satisfied that the moment found a place in Eli's soul and changed him as well. "It put a hunger inside me," Eli says. "You always want to win, but after that I felt like I wanted it even more." And now, so soon afterward, it would be his turn.
A second-floor restaurant at the New York Giants' team hotel outside Phoenix had become a thrumming nightclub into early Monday morning, a steady bass beat providing the backdrop to the unmistakable buzz of victory shared with friends and family at another Manning Super Bowl celebration. One floor below, some Giants players and a horde of the team's supporters filled a massive ballroom for another party, and outside in the night a long line of cars snaked nearly the full two miles from Interstate 10 to the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, Ariz., as the desert sky spit raindrops and high winds buffeted the sagebrush along the highway. Drivers wore Big Blue jerseys and wanted only a piece of the delirium.
It was to have been a historic night. The New England Patriots would win their 19th consecutive game and become only the second NFL team, along with the 1972 Miami Dolphins, to complete a season unbeaten and untied. They would fortify the legacy of a modern professional dynasty with a fourth Super Bowl title in seven years. They would prove themselves perfect.
Instead, the Giants completed an unexpected and emotional postseason run with a 17–14 victory in Super Bowl XLII. It was history cut from another cloth, a performance built on the sturdy underpinnings of a ferocious defensive effort, sustained when quarterback Manning and wide receiver David Tyree combined on one of the most memorable plays in NFL history, and sealed when Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds to play. The game will take its place not only as the second-greatest upset in a Super Bowl, behind the New York Jets' epic 16–7 defeat of the Baltimore Colts in January 1969, but also as the culmination of a season in which a team, a quarterback and a coach found themselves linked by a deep resilience and rode it to the top of their sport.
Here in the afterglow Manning, the game's MVP, worked the room, bouncing among groups of friends: those from Isidore Newman, his New Orleans high school; from Ole Miss, where he played his college ball; and from New York. His mother, Olivia, stood talking with Eli's fiancée, Abby McGrew. Peyton remained in the back of the room, ceding the stage to Eli. "It's just surreal," Eli said over the noise. Past midnight he joined with his oldest brother, Cooper, and together they sang. The selection, of course, was New York, New York.
On Wednesday morning of last week, at the Giants' Super Bowl headquarters, a press conference had concluded and defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora sat together reading a newspaper. A headline posed the question, BRADY: THE BEST EVER?
"Is he the best ever?" Umenyiora said of Tom Brady, the Patriots' superstar quarterback, setting up his partner.
"We'll see on Sunday," Tuck replied disdainfully.
The two fell silent for several moments, until Tuck, turning straight man, seized on another intriguing piece of reportage. When the Giants arrived in Phoenix six days before the Super Bowl, most of the players were dressed entirely in black, a sartorial choice designed to display solidarity, intimidation or humor, depending on which player was asked. But amid the Super Bowl's media saturation, it became big news. Now Tuck found a story claiming that Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss had said he would be wearing black after the game, ostensibly to mourn the beaten Giants.
"He will be wearing black," said Umenyiora, clearly implying that Moss would be mourning not the Giants but his own team. Together the big men laughed out loud.
Throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl XLII, the Giants were loose, the Patriots smooth yet practiced. For Brady, Moss, coach Bill Belichick, wideout Wes Welker, linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau, this was another day at work. The Super Bowl would be either a coronation or a colossal upset; it would not simply be an NFL title game. The Patriots had spent the entirety of their 16–0 regular season, including a riveting 38–35 win over the Giants on Dec. 29, and their run through the AFC playoffs denying their pursuit of history, but that larger task defined the game. Some of the New England players even admitted it. "You have to finish," Seau said in midweek. "You have to finish, or it doesn't count to be in that 'great' group."
The Giants, who were 10–6 in the regular season and the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs, slowly grew sick of their role. "Everywhere you went, it was all about the Patriots and 19–0," said cornerback R.W. McQuarters after the game. "We go into the city, and there's Tom Brady on the buildings. We get to the stadium today, and there's a Super Bowl program in our locker, and it's like a Tom Brady magazine. We come out to warm up, and Tom Brady is on the big screen. It's like Tom Brady was everywhere."
In the December home loss to New England, New York gave up 22 points in the final 19 minutes; Brady passed for 356 yards, including a 65-yard bomb to Randy Moss for the go-ahead score. But the Giants' defensive front—ends Umenyiora, Tuck and the unit's veteran leader, Michael Strahan, and tackles Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins—had pressured Brady all night, despite sacking him only once. "We did some things really well against them the first time," said Tuck. "We just didn't get him on the ground."
They did on Sunday. Mixing A-gap blitzes from weakside linebacker Kawika Mitchell with steady four-man pressure from the line, the Giants brought relentless heat to the highest-scoring offense in NFL history. New York had five sacks and knocked Brady down a half-dozen other times. Central to the effort was Tuck's constant movement, making it difficult for Brady to identify where the rush was likely to come from. ("The Jets did that to them near the end of the season, and it looked like Brady had a hard time," said Tuck). The Giants manhandled the Patriots' offensive line, which includes three Pro Bowl players, and limited tailback Laurence Maroney, who had 244 rushing yards over two playoff games, to 36 yards on the ground. All-Pro left tackle Matt Light was beaten repeatedly by Umenyiora and spooked into two false starts in the second half.
The upshot of all this defense—New England's unit also played solidly—was a brutal game in which, after the Patriots took a 7–3 lead on the first play of the second quarter, the two teams went 33 minutes, 52 seconds without scoring, a Super Bowl record. Then they played a 15-minute masterpiece, compressing a night's drama into the fourth quarter.
First, Manning threw a touchdown pass to Tyree with 11:05 to play. Three series later, Brady completed 8 of 11 on an 80-yard drive, capping it with a six-yard TD pass to Moss that put New England back on top 14–10 with 2:42 remaining. The game rested in Manning's hands.
To New York fans and media, Manning had been the biggest of targets for more than three seasons. Blame for any fresh failure inevitably was laid at his feet, until he directed the wild-card Giants to January playoff wins at Tampa Bay, Dallas and then frigid Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. Slowly, New York began to embrace its quarterback. Two days after the win over the Packers, Manning had dinner with friends at Rao's, a popular Italian restaurant in East Harlem. While he was in the restroom, owner (and Sopranos regular) Frank Pellegrino announced to the diners that Eli was in their midst, and when the quarterback emerged he was given a standing ovation. He got another one as he left.
Yet Manning had been neither brilliant nor bad in the first three quarters of the Super Bowl. When he took the field for what would be the defining drive of his career, he was 14 of 25 for 178 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Giants took six plays to move from their 17-yard line to their 44, where, on third-and-five, Manning took a shotgun snap and carved a place in football lore. Quickly swarmed in a collapsing pocket, he was grabbed by the Patriots' Jarvis Green, a 6'3", 285-pound defensive end. For an instant Manning disappeared, presumed sacked. Somehow, though, he pulled away from the scrum. His mother watched and was transported back nearly four decades, to a time when her sweetheart was tearing up the Southeastern Conference with a freewheeling quarterbacking style. Said Olivia Manning, "That looked like Archie running around at Ole Miss."
Once free, Manning squared himself and lobbed a pass into the middle of the field toward Tyree, who had stopped after running a post pattern. A fifth-year wideout best known for his special teams work, Tyree scarcely fit the hero's mold—he had caught only four passes in the regular season and one in the playoffs. But Manning likes Tyree. After a disastrous Friday practice in which Tyree had dropped a half-dozen passes, Manning went up to the receiver and told him, "You forget about this. You're a gamer. I know you are."
With the Super Bowl in the balance, Tyree rose high and outfought Patriots veteran strong safety Rodney Harrison, clutching the ball against his own helmet. "Harrison is a dirty cheap-shot artist and also a heck of a football player," said Tyree. "But once that ball was in the air, it was mine, mine, mine, like a little kid." The 32-yard gain—Harrison called it "a Hail Mary"—took the ball to the New England 24-yard line. Three plays later Manning threw 12 yards to rookie Steve Smith for a first down at the Patriots' 13 with 39 seconds left.
The Giants' next formation sent Burress to the left. He was all alone, and not for the first time. The eighth-year veteran had isolated himself on the Monday before the game, casually tossing out a prediction to the New York Post that the Giants would win the game 23–17. While that collected mountains of attention, Burress quietly struggled physically. After playing most of the season on a sprained right ankle, he slipped in the shower on the Tuesday morning of Super Bowl week—"a freak accident," he called it. When he was told that he had injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, "I busted out crying," said Burress. "I thought I wasn't going to be able to play in the biggest game of my life." He didn't practice again before the game and said, "I didn't even run until [Sunday]."
But on the deciding play, the Patriots blitzed, leaving cornerback Ellis Hobbs in single coverage on Burress. Hobbs guessed slant—"He pretty much has to guess one way or the other," said Peyton Manning—the play called for a fade, and Hobbs was badly beaten. "End of story," said Eli.
Or perhaps the beginning. A year ago Manning was at the center of a Giants collapse during which the team dropped six of its final eight in the regular season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. In the run-up to the 2007 season Manning's leadership was criticized by retired New York running back Tiki Barber, in his role as an analyst for NBC, and the quarterback was under intense scrutiny from fans and media. For now, he is set free. "I've had a lot of downs in New York," Eli said, as he stood to the side at his victory party. "A lot of times I've thought, Why have I gotten this treatment? Do I deserve this? So to come out here and win, not just for me but for our whole team, is really special. And for me personally, I'd have to say it is kind of sweet."
But once that ball was in the air, it was mine, mine, mine, like a little kid.
There was a meeting during the season that blended into the endless chain of other football meetings, except for an exchange between Tom Coughlin, the Giants' fourth-year coach, and Strahan, the 15-year veteran. Strahan arrived wearing a shirt with his name stitched on the breast pocket. Coughlin eyeballed Strahan. "What are you, a maintenance man?" he said with a laugh. "Can you fix my refrigerator?"
Tuck says, "That was amazing in two ways. First of all, that Coach Coughlin said it. And second of all, that Mike didn't say anything back. Because Mike always has something to say back."
By the time the Super Bowl kicked off, it was old news that Coughlin's personality shift—from dour disciplinarian to back-slapping players' coach—was a significant part of the team's rise. For those closest to Coughlin, the issue is far less complex. "We've always known who our dad is," said Tim Coughlin, 35, a Wall Street bond trader and the second of Tom's four grown children. "And we've all seen what he had to go through."
Like Manning, the 61-year-old Coughlin had been pilloried by fans, media and Barber. Like Manning, he felt the heaviest blows in the wake of the Giants' 2006 collapse. (It got worse after New York started the '07 season 0–2.) "My father was hurt by the criticism last year and in the off-season," said Tim, as he stood on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium in the aftermath of the Giants' victory. "And that's what makes this night so special for our family and for him."
In the weeks and months to come, the Giants will be celebrated as only a precious few cities can lift a champion. Coughlin, Manning, Burress, Strahan and the rest will hear many more ovations. To the north, the Patriots will answer questions about their two-drive Super Bowl. About the meaning of winning 18 games but finishing with a loss. About history denied.
But beneath a dome in the desert on Sunday evening, time was the province of the winners. Players lingered with family. In the stands scattered groups of Giants fans chanted mockingly, "Eighteen-and-one ... eighteen-and-one." On the battered grass two of Coughlin's grandchildren, four-year-olds Emma and Dylan, lay on their backs and swept their arms and legs, making snow angels in the confetti.The only word to describe the scene would be: Perfect.”
Souhan Minn Star Tribune: Vikings, Super Bowl: Remembering Wade
Hill Fort Worth Star Telegram: Original Cowboys triplets are in Hall of Fame: Gil Brandt joins Tom Landry, Tex Schramm
Mason Broncos.com: Champ Bailey's Hall call: 'You couldn't ask for a better story'
Guregian Boston Herald: Patriots great Ty Law gains induction into Pro Football Hall of Fame
Bell News Tribune: The Seahawks move that made Kevin Mawae a center--and now a Pro Football Hall of Famer
Schmuck Baltimore Sun: Ed Reed was a study in contrasts, but that's what made him a Hall of Famer
Fleischer LA Times: Two L.A. Rams desegregated football. They’ve never been given the credit they deserve
Sullivan Louisville Courier Journal: Keeping Johnny Unitas clean was a dirty job – just ask Alex Sandusky
Giants Birthdays 2-03
Marcus Buckley RLB D3-Texas A& M 1993 NYG 1993-1999 2-03-1971
Keith Elias RB UDFA-Princeton 1994 NYG 1994-1996 2-03-1972
Gordon King RT D1-Stanford 1978 NYG 1978-1985 2-03-1956
Fran Tarkenton QB TR-MIN 1967 NYG 1967-1971 2-03-1940
Stuart Football Perspective: Most Valuable QBs: Johnny Unitas vs. Fran Tarkenton (1967)
Unitas (AP1): 255-436 (58.5%) 3428 yards (7.86 y/a) 20 TD 16 INT, 83.6 rating, 7.13 AY/A, 11-1-2 record in starts (4 4QC, 3 GWD). Rushing: 89 yards on 22 attempts (4.0 avg.), 0 TD, 4 fumbles.
Tarkenton (MVQB): 204-377 (54.1%) 3088 yards (8.19 y/a) 29 TD 19 INT, 85.9 rating, 7.46 AY/A, 7-7 record in starts (2 4QC, 2 GWD). Rushing: 306 yards on 44 attempts (7.0 avg.), 2 TD, 4 fumbles.
For older selections, I’ve often deferred to the AP when they pass over a quarterback on a weaker team to give their All-Pro nod to an established star on a great squad. I won’t do that here.
The 1966 Giants went 1-12-1. Much of that was due to a putrid defense which allowed 501 points, many of them in an infamous 72-41 loss to the Redskins. But the offense could not be absolved from blame. Gary Wood, Earl Morrall, and Tom Kennedy split time at quarterback, and no rusher exceeded 327 yards. As a result, New York was 12th in the 15-team NFL with 263 points scored, and 8th in yards. Just two seasons later, Morrall would be putting up Unitas-like numbers on Unitas’ own team.
In ’66, New York’s top 5 pass receivers were Homer Jones, Joe Morrison, Aaron Thomas, Chuck Mercein, and Bobby Crespino. In ’67, they were Thomas, Jones, Morrison, Ernie Koy, and Tucker Frederickson, the last two of which were also on the ’66 squad. Four starting offensive linemen returned, and the only new one was 1966 eighth-round pick RT Charlie Harper.
This time, the Giants were 3rd in the league with 369 points and 3rd in yards, finishing 7-7. The only difference on offense was Fran Tarkenton.
Tarkenton did have two ugly games in 1967: in a 34-7 loss to the Bears and a 30-7 loss to the Lions, he was a combined 8-36 for 111 yards with 0 TD and 4 INT. Unitas’ lows weren’t quite as low, and the Colts only lost once. But in a 24-3 win vs. the Bears and a 30-10 victory over the Saints, Unitas was a combined 29-61 for 297 yards and 1 TD w/4 INT.
That leaves us with their 12 best games of the season, in which Tarkenton and Unitas did this:
* Unitas: 3131 yards, 19 TD, 8.35 y/a, 90.7 rating, 7.92 AY/A
* Tarkenton: 2977 yards, 29 TD, 8.73 y/a, 96.4 rating, 8.45 AY/A
One need not make too many such apologies for Tarkenton, however. Over the course of the entire season, he did manage more touchdowns, a better rating, and better adjusted yards per attempt than Unitas.
The NFL was expanding in response to the AFL by now, resulting in some interesting opposition for Unitas and Tarkenton. The NFL alignment in 1967 looks rather foreign to a modern observer. The New Orleans Saints began play in ’67, a year after the Atlanta Falcons. The Colts were in the Coastal Division with the Rams, 49ers, and Falcons,1 while the Giants played with the Browns, Steelers, and St. Louis Cardinals in the Century Division. The other divisions went Cowboys-Eagles-Redskins-SAINTS in the Capitol, and a very normal-looking Bears-Lions-Packers-Vikings in the Central.2
Unitas had to face the strong defense of the L.A. Rams two times, but also got to beat up on the expansion Falcons twice—in one of those games, he managed what would become a perfect rating when the stat was invented: 17-20 for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns without a pick. His 22.5 ANY/A remains one of the greatest single-game performances of all-time. Meanwhile, the Browns, Steelers, and Cardinals were all very mediocre in 1967.
Both quarterbacks also faced off against the Packers once. The Colts won 13-10, but Unitas was just 15-32 for 126 yards (2 TD, 1 INT), while the Giants got creamed 48-21 as Tarkenton went 14-27 for 203 yards (3 TD, 3 INT).3 Those games are basically a draw, but they are interesting to note...”