The 1990s Giants teams are always an interesting time to look back on. They started off the decade with a Super Bowl Victory, had two playoff seasons mixed in, and were a mediocre team for the rest of the decade. One season where the Giants had another chance to get to the playoffs but just missed, was 1994. If there is one way I can describe that Giants team, it would be “A Team of Streaks.” Let’s take a look back on the 1994 Giants.
The 1994 season was the Giants first without Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. Although LT wasn’t the same LT his last couple years, Phil Simms was a Pro Bowler in 1993. Despite his strong play, the Giants cut Phil Simms to save money as 1994 was the first season the NFL installed the salary cap. With this move, the Giants 1992 first round supplemental draft pick, Dave Brown out of Duke, was named the Giants starting Quarterback. This would prove to be a move that hurt the Giants. Brown would finish the season with 2,536 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He would be benched for the Giants week 11 matchup against the Cardinals in favor of Kent Graham, before regaining the starting job. Despite the poor QB play, the Giants would start the season 3-0 before their week 4 bye. Following this though, the Giants would lose 7 straight games whilst fielding the worst offense in the league. Heading into week 12, the Giants were a 3-7 football team with no hope in sight. Then, something amazing happened.
The Giants were set to have 3 straight road games in Houston, Washington, and Cleveland. Not exactly the best timing for a team that had lost 7 straight games. Well, the Giants won those three road games, and never looked back. They would win the rest of their games on the year, including games against both Philly and Dallas. They didn’t get the help they needed in week 17, and just missed their second straight playoff appearance finishing the season at 9-7. The Giants winning streak can largely be accredited to their defense that would finish as the 11th best in the NFL in terms of yardage. The Giants defense was able to hold opposing teams to just about 14 points per game and 271.3 yards per game on their winning streak. This Giants team wasn’t a team of stars, but there are still some players that are worth highlighting from 1994.
The Dan Reeves led Giants fielded the worst offense in the league in 1994, but Running Back Rodney Hampton was still able to run for 1,075 yards on the year. His yards per carry weren’t great (3.3), but it was Hampton’s fourth straight year with over 1,000 yards on the ground. The leader in receiving yards was Wide Receiver Mike Sherrard who had 825 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Dave Meggett was always a good return man, and that continued in 1994 as he took two punts back to the house. Defensively, it was a group effort in their success. Linebacker Michael Brooks led the Giants in tackles with 118, Safety John Booty and Corner Phillippi Sparks tied for the teams lead in interceptions with 3, and Defensive Tackle Erik Howard and Defensive End Keith Hamilton tied for the team lead in sacks with 6.5 with future star Michael Strahan not far behind with 4.5. Most of these guys aren’t stars in Giants history, but they were all essential players on a team that just missed the playoffs.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. That is probably the number 1 lesson I have learned as a Giant fan. The 1994 Giants winning streak happened just one week too late.
That is Why the 1994 Giants are One of the One’s that Got Away.