Strahan Completes Halloween Comeback with Overtime Touchdown
Ultimately, 1999 would not be a playoff year for either New York or Philadelphia, but at the midway point of the season, the Giants had hope. They were still in the hunt. With some luck and opportunistic play on this Halloween Sunday, they would head into their bye week with a promising 5-3 record.
By contrast, the Eagles were coming off a 3-13 season and were a slapdash, bumbling bunch under first-year coach Andy Reid in 1999. Yet at halftime, they led the Giants 17-3 on the strength of Duce Staley’s 83 rushing yards and an 84-yard touchdown strike from the weak-armed Doug Pederson to Torrance Small, who had slipped by cornerback Jason Sehorn.
The Giants were being beaten soundly and not by giants on the other side of the field. When the players hit the locker room, Jim Fassel tore into their pathetic display with an expletive-laced tirade that caught the attention of the team, and they tightened up their play in the second half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Giants launched a 16-play, 83-yard, nine-minute drive that ended with runner LeShon Johnson going in from the 2-yard line to put New York within a touchdown of the lead. The plodding Kent Graham-led offense could not add to that, though.
Pederson then got the Eagles in position for a 33-yard field goal with less than eight minutes to play. However, defensive tackle Christian Peter got his hand up and blocked the attempt, preserving the one-score deficit. Again, the Giants could not move the ball. They were forced to punt,
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I he big guys on a team are supposed to make the big plays. There comes a time in every game when somebody has to step up or go home with a loss. That time came for us and the guys did what they had to. And we get on the bus and go home winners.
Penned up on third-and-11 from the 2, Staley took the handoff, was hit immediately by Keith Hamilton and Lyle West, and dropped the ball. New York recovered on the 5, and Graham hit Pete Mitchell for a touchdown to tie the score with two minutes to play. Regulation play ended with the score knotted at 17-17.
In overtime, Christian Peter and Michael Strahan combined for the game-winning play. After a Giants punt, the Eagles were driving, having reached the New York 45. Pederson dropped back to pass, and once again Peter stuck his hand up to deflect the pass. The ball shot straight up in the air. Strahan, who had thus far had a quiet day, found himself in the right place at the right time and made the most of the opportunity. He grabbed the ball and took off 44 yards for the end zone and the winning score, with only heavy-footed linemen in futile pursuit. There, in ground-level end-zone seats of the hostile Veterans Stadium, he found a group of Giants fans, and it was high fives all around.
I was thinking, It’s too good to be true. It was moving in slow motion. I knew I had to catch it or everyone in New York would hate me right now. But I have good hands.
I grabbed it and ran. If you’re going to end a game coming back from 14 points down, that’s the way to end it.