Amani Toomer of the New York Giants makes the winning touchdown reception on Dec. 13, 1998 as the Giants defeat the previously 13-0 Denver Broncos. (Photo by Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport)
Dec. 13, 1998. The 5-8 New York Giants vs. the 13-0 Denver Broncos at Giants Stadium. Final score: Giants 20, Broncos 16.
If you are old enough to remember that game you know that no one gave the Giants a chance to beat the mighty Broncos, who would go on after that to finish the season 14-2 and win the Super Bowl. Lightning struck, though, when the hardly immortal Kent Graham heaved a 37-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer with less than two minutes to play, giving the Giants an improbable 20-16 victory.
Feb. 3, 2008, Super Bowl XLII. The New England Patriots enter 18-0, fully expecting to finish a perfect season with a Super Bowl title. Final score: Giants 17, New England 14.
The Giants have cut down Goliath before. Can they do it again today?
Forgetting the Super Bowl for now, probably the more apt comparison is the 1998 game against the Denver Broncos. It occurred at a similar point in the season, with the down-trodden Giants not given much of a chance against the mighty Broncos of John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe and Co.
Sure the Giants had Toomer, Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan. It was early in the careers of those players, though, and -- aside from Strahan -- they had not become the stars they would be in later years.
That day Graham outplayed Elway, going 21-of-33 for 265 yards and two scores, while Elway went only 19-of-36 for 180 yards and interception.
The Giants used that game, which turned into their second straight victory, as a springboard to finish the season with four straight wins and wind up 8-8.
We know this Giants' team is not as good as the Packers' team that will be on other sideline Sunday afternoon. Can this Giants team, with vastly superior talent on offense than that 1998 team had -- Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz -- pull off a shocker like that 1998 team did, though? Can it, at least, play well in this game and come away with some positive momentum heading into the season-defining final four games?
That, likely, is what everyone connected with the Giants is hoping. That, win or lose, the team can get its groove back in this game against the best team in the league, finish strong and make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.