AP Photo - Bill Kostroun
The touchdowns are what many Giants fans will remember most, but 42 other isolated instances or overall performances, on and off the field, helped build toward their Super Bowl XLII win. Those are listed below, in descending order.
42. Corey Webster’s breakup of Tom Brady’s bomb to Randy Moss on the next-to-last play of the big game. If Webster doesn’t tip it, the game likely would’ve gone into overtime.
41. Jay Alford’s sack of Brady, forcing the Patriots into a daunting third-and-20 situation from their own 16, when they were down 17-14 and only 10 ticks were left on the clock.
40. David Tyree’s astonishing 32-yard reception to set up Plaxico Burress’ game-winning touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter.
39. Kevin Boss’ 45-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, which led to Tyree’s go-ahead touchdown catch.
38. He did little more than fall forward for a first down, but Brandon Jacobs’ one-yard gain on a fourth-and-one play from the Giants’ 37 with less than two minutes to play.
37. Webster’s overtime interception in Green Bay, Wis. (Jan. 20), which granted Lawrence Tynes his shot at redemption.
36. With the score tied 20-20 and 2:15 play, Domenik Hixon recovered R.W. McQuarters’ fumbled punt return at Green Bay’s 48, preventing a game-changing turnover.
35. McQuarters’ late-fourth quarter interception in the end zone dealt Dallas a 21-17 home playoff defeat on Jan. 13.
34. Manning’s first-down throw to Smith on a pivotal third-and-six play from Dallas’ 20 on Jan. 13 led to the go-ahead score, a sure sign that this was a different quarterback.
33. With the Giants ahead 17-7 and the Bucs driving, Webster intercepted a deep pass intended for Joey Galloway on Jan. 6, to help secure the win.
32. Sam Madison suffered an abdominal injury against New England, allowing Webster to re-emerge.
31. They went ahead of New England 28-16 in the third quarter on Dec. 29, their evidence that they could play with the then-perfect Patriots.
30. Coughlin decided to play his starters against undefeated New England, despite that the outcome of the game didn’t affect their postseason position.
29. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride called for Ahmad Bradshaw to run through the right side against Buffalo on Dec. 23, resulting in an 88-yard touchdown that helped them avoid having to defeat the Patriots to earn a playoff spot.
28. Jeremy Shockey suffered a season-ending leg injury on Dec. 16, which some people perceive as the night Manning became more comfortable as a quarterback.
27. On the final two plays of a Dec. 2 game in Chicago, strong safety James Butler and nickel back Kevin Dockery batted away back-to-back Rex Grossman passes in the end zone to secure a 21-16 win.
26. Madison secured a Nov. 18 win in Detroit by picking off a John Kitna pass at the Giants’ 30 with 48 seconds to play.
25. Manning’s performance in the Detroit game, in which he made only four errant throws despite attempting 39 passes, indicated he could play the way he has since Dec. 29.
24. Tynes started a confidence-building stretch against Dallas on Nov. 11, which resulted in him making all nine field goals and all nine extra points over five games.
23. Benching and eventually deactivating Webster, a 2005 second-round pick who needed motivation to start fulfilling his potential, was helpful.
22. Brandon Jacobs came back from a knee injury that cost him three games to run for 100 yards against the Jets on Oct. 7, a sampling of what Tiki Barber’s replacement would do when healthy throughout the regular season.
21. Umenyiora’s six-sack performance against Philadelphia on Sept. 30 put the league on notice that there was plenty more to come from this disruptive defensive front.
20. Their goal-line stand against Washington at the end of the fourth quarter changed their season, as it started their 11-game road winning streak on Sept. 23.
19. With the Giants down 17-3 and staring at 0-3, Shockey made a sensational, sliding, 21-yard catch that led to a touchdown early in the third quarter, which initiated their comeback against Washington.
18. Burress’ 144-yard, three-touchdown outing against Dallas on Sept. 9 proved to Tom Coughlin that Burress could excel on Sundays without practicing on his injured ankle during the week.
17. They lost, but Manning gave the organization immediate reason for optimism by throwing for 312 yards and four touchdowns during their season-opening road loss to Dallas.
16. Manning’s comeback to Barber’s criticism seemed to rally his teammates around him.
15. The free-agent acquisition of fullback Madison Hedgecock, who emerged as an even better blocker than injured Jim Finn.
14. Michael Strahan decided to return for a 15th NFL season.
13. They traded for Lawrence Tynes, who struggled early in the season, only to respond with one of the most dramatic field goals in league history against Green Bay.
12. They drafted Bradshaw.
11. They drafted Boss.
10. They drafted Alford.
9. They drafted Smith.
8. They drafted Aaron Ross.
7. They moved Mathias Kiwanuka from defensive end to strongside linebacker, where he learned to excel before suffering a season-ending leg injury.
6. They signed weakside linebacker Kawika Mitchell, who made numerous game-altering plays throughout the season.
5. Jeff Feagles decided to return for a 20th NFL season.
4. They released left tackle Luke Petitgout, a questionable move David Diehl validated by becoming an above-average player at the position.
3. They hired quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, who improved Manning’s mechanics and footwork.
2. They hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who transformed their defense into an aggressive, productive unit following a slow start.
1. John Mara and Steve Tisch signed Tom Coughlin to a one-year contract extension, rather than fire him.