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A Date To Remember: An unsung hero and the unsung 2000 Giants

Jason Sehorn’s circus interception drives the Giants run to Super Bowl XXXV

Eagles v Giants X Sehorn
The 32-yard touchdown return was the easy part of Jason Sehorn’s famous circus interception in the 2000 Wild Card game victory over the Eagles.

A Date To Remember is an occasional series Big Blue View will be running through the Super Bowl, highlighting the glory of the Giants’ past and celebrating the biggest playoff wins in franchise history.

The Circus Interception

Jan. 7, 2001

NFC Divisional round game

Giants 20, Eagles 10

Some called it The Cartwheel Interception.

Others called it The Juggle.

Whatever you label it, the circus interception was spectacular, bordering on unbelievable.

The Giants held a 10-0 lead late in the first half of their NFC divisional round game with the archival Philadelphia Eagles at Giants Stadium.

Then came the play everyone in America would be talking about the next morning.

Jason Sehorn dove in front of Torrance Small, stretching out for a Donovan McNabb pass he tried to cradle in his arms. The ball squirted out of his grasp as he rolled onto his back. So Sehorn batted it up while lying on turf, pivoted onto one knee and snatched it near his shoulders. He then popped to his feet and sprinted 32 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.

Game over.

“As I popped it [up], it just hung there for a second and I thought to myself, ‘Just go,’” Sehorn told reporters after the game. ”It was a slow-motion thing where everything seemed to work.

“It’s not something that you can practice. It’s just everything working. I can’t say I’m such a gifted athlete, and that’s why it worked. It just worked.”

Somehow, the play has largely been forgotten in the Giants’ rich lore, despite coach Jim Fassel calling it the best interception he had ever seen.

It was too momentous a play — and Sehorn was too good a player — to be relegated to the overlooked, dusty archives of franchise history.

And the 2000 team (12-4 in the regular season) accomplished too much, even if it was the only squad in franchise history to lose a Super Bowl.

“I was still proud of our guys,” Fassel told The New York Times seven years after that loss. “We went against one of the best defenses I’ve ever seen. But yeah, you don’t sleep for a while.”

But first came the Giants’ 20-10 win — their ninth consecutive victory over the Eagles.

And the Giants did it without scoring an offensive touchdown.

They jumped out to a 7-0 lead when rookie Ron Dixon returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The lead increased to 10 after a Brad Daluiso 37-yard field goal.

Then came Sehorn’s heroics.

He was part of a defense that limited Philadelphia to just 186 total yards and a garbage-time touchdown just before the two-minute warning.

Sehorn’s name comes up infrequently, if at all, as the second decade of the 21st century nears an end.

But blessed with 4.3 speed, he collected 19 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns in a 10-year career, nine of which were spent with the Giants. He intercepted 11 passes and forced seven fumbles combined in 1996 and 1997, building a reputation as one of the NFC’s best cornerbacks despite never receiving an invitation to the Pro Bowl.

He missed the entire 1998 season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his knee in a preseason game and then missed six games in 1999, dampening his candidacy.

A week after beating the Eagles, the Giants thoroughly dominated the Minnesota Vikings, 41-0. Sehorn held Hall of Famer Randy Moss to only two receptions for 18 yards.

Then the Giants headed to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV. Kerry Collins and Co. ran into the Baltimore Ravens and its all-time defense, headlined by Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson.

But it was still a season worth remembering.