The perennially mediocre New York Giants flipped the script in TLL82, posting a (7-1) regular season record in the shortened season. The Giants made hay with a fast, opportunistic, bend but don’t break defense, and timely long passes from unlikely ALL-PRO Scott Brunner, an obscure quarterback who took the reins following a season ending injury to Phil Simms. Despite the dominant record, the Giants entered the postseason tournament as the number four seed, as their only loss came at the hands of TLL powerhouse and divisional foe, the Dallas Cowboys, 3-0.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Giants met no easy task in facing the upstart Green Bay Packers, a team, like the Giants, also accustomed to surrendering any hope a playoff berth. The TLL82 Packers boasted one of the leagues’ most well-rounded and potent offenses. The Giants, though, were able to establish a late 14-3 fourth quarter lead. The day was beaming bright for the Giants, as they had Green Bay on the ropes with a fourth and long that would have essentially ended the game. Instead, Lynn Dickey threw a pass that floated far off-target from the route star wide receiver James Lofton was running. The pass drifted slowly toward the middle of the field. Lofton tracked the ball, but so did three Giant defenders, including ALL-PRO cornerback Terry Jackson. Amidst the crowd of Giants there was a slight pause, as everyone stopped to figure out what was occurring. Just as soon, the words FIRST DOWN scrolled across the screen. The Packers found new life, and soon found the end zone, suddenly now only trailing 14-10 with minutes to go. As it often happens in these situations, the Packers recovered the onside kick and went down to score to take the lead with mere seconds left. From the brink of jubilation to the precipice of despair, the Giants could only tip their caps to the Packers, and take proud stock in a season of overachievement. But was that all they could do? Earnest Gray, who had not broken a single kickoff return the entire season, made a play that will be etched firmly in the all-time most dazzling moments the league has offered across its seven seasons. Gray grasped the improbable, turning it into a moment not long forgotten in taking the kickoff return 95 yards for the definitive game clinching score. The Packers stole the lead from the Giants, and just as soon the Giants stole the game from the Packers. With only 72 yards of total offense, and negative yards rushing, the Giants escaped the Green Bay Packers 21-18 to move onto the second round, where the rising San Francisco 49ers awaited.
This time the Giants were able to deploy a successful balanced attack, gaining nearly 100 yards rushing and 130 yards passing from Scott Brunner, who posted a modest, but error free, 50%, one touchdown game. Again the Giants were bolstered by an unlikely player- this time it was RB Rob Carpenter, who contributed virtually nothing to the offense up to this game. Here Carpenter displayed the hitting power attributed to him, and a tenacity for breaking tackles, which had been lacking the entire season. Carpenter were for 65 yards on nine carries, while scoring twice. Despite being unable to slow down the 49ers’ Dwight Clark (75 RE), the Giants defense did manage to keep QB Joe Montana under 50% passing, and better yet kept Clark and Montana from the end zone enough to pile on a 35-7 lead before the Niners scored late. Perhaps the Giants were hitting their mark as they strode into the NFC Championship game, where none other than the vaunted Dallas Cowboys awaited, a hungry team looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1977.
In their sole regular season match up the teams locked arms, with Dallas prevailing 3-0. Scott Brunner’s usually reliable deep passes fell short, long overhead, and waywardly out of bounds. The Giants entered the championship game with nothing to lose, and with no pressure attached. Earnest Gray picked up where he left off in the last meeting against a chaosrison controlled team, taking the opening kickoff into scoring range. Scott Brunner would hit ALL-PRO Johnny Perkins twice on the short drive, once for a goal-to-go situation, and another for the first points of the game. In the first half the Giants defense was able to harass Danny White, while disallowing Tony Dorsett to break loose. This pressure allowed the Giants to conduct another scoring drive of their own, culminating in Brunner’s second touchdown pass to his favorite target Johnny Perkins, who would have 5 receptions for 119 yards on the day. The Giants knew it was only a matter of time before the Dallas offense heated up. The Cowboys would cross the goal line on a time consuming third quarter drive, ending in a short touchdown pass from White to RB Ron Springs. The Giants held on to a precarious 14-7 fourth quarter lead. On the ensuing drive, showing touch, heart, and bravery, Scott Brunner tested the waters of Everson Walls (75 INT) as he scanned the field enough to allow Perkins to free up from Walls. As Perkins broke past Walls, the hawking cornerback was unable to catch up. All Brunner had to do was lay the ball into the hands of Perkins, who was there for a sure score. Often quarterbacks will find a way to flub an open deep pass, as it lands just beyond the outstretched hands of the wide receiver. Not this time, though. Brunner perfectly placed the ball for the duo’s third touchdown of the game. Brunner was a brilliant 7/9 with 3 touchdowns in the championship game. The Giants now lead 21-7 with 3 minutes remaining. Anyone knowing the game of Tecmo Super Bowl III, or having read the second paragraph of this article, can attest that no lead is safe. The Giants defense came to play on the next drive, disallowing any deep stuff, while allowing the occasional dink and dunk first down. Dallas was moving the ball in small increments, but time was wasting. Early on in the drive the Giants had Dallas pinned back in a fourth and long, but Danny White was able to convert to TE Doug Cosbie to preserve the drive and a Dallas hope at a comeback win. The Cowboys would then sprinkle in some runs, as the Giants were basically all in toward protecting anything deep. When tested deep, the secondary rose to the challenge. Still, the Cowboys were now moving the ball with more efficiency. As Dallas crept closer to the goal line, White slung a quick pass to veteran WR Drew Pearson to close the gap. Lawrence Taylor would intercept the two-point try, but as one would smartly predict, Dallas came away with the onside kick. The Giants defense did well to drain the clock on the last Dallas drive, but 25 seconds seems like a full quarter when a team is starting from midfield with the momentum of the Tecmo onside comeback fueling it. With nerves raging, the Giants were able to knock away White’s final two passes of the TLL82 season. The Giants, never before better than (8-8), found their way to the playoffs in TLL82, and remarkably, with craft, guts, and timely plays from all facets of the roster, all the way to the Super Bowl.
Note: I realize two of the photos did not load correctly for some reason, but fuck it, ain't nobody got time for that mess.