EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Tom Coughlin will face an old and familiar rival Sunday when Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans visit New Meadowlands Stadium.
The game will be the 18th in which Coughlin and Fisher have squared off, which is more often than any other two active head coaches have faced each other. Fisher holds a 10-7 lead in their regular season rivalry and he and the Titans won their only postseason meeting, defeating Coughlin's Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1999 AFC Championship Game.
The second and third most frequent meetings among active head coaches also include Fisher and Coughlin. Fisher and Jack Del Rio, Coughlin's successor in Jacksonville, have met 14 times. In third place are Coughlin and Philadelphia coach Andy Reid, who have faced each other in 13 regular season games, 12 since Coughlin joined the Giants in 2004 (plus twice in the postseason).
The Giants are also included in the most frequently-contested head coaching rivalry since the 1970 merger. Bill Parcells (first with the Giants, then with the Dallas Cowboys) faced Joe Gibbs 22 times during the Hall of Famer's two tenures with the Washington Redskins. Parcells owns a 13-9 lead, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Coughlin and Fisher both became NFL head coaches in 1994. Coughlin was hired first, but Fisher coached his first game before his rival did. Coughlin was named Jacksonville's first head coach on Feb. 21, 1994, more than 18 months before the team played its first game. Fisher was elevated from the Houston Oilers' defensive coordinator to their head coach, replacing the fired Jack Pardee, on Nov. 14, 1994. A week later, he coached his first game, on a Monday night against the Giants, and lost, 13-10.
Coughlin's first NFL regular season game was a 10-3 loss to Fisher and the Oilers on Sept. 3, 1995. Four weeks later, Coughlin picked up his first career victory at Fisher's expense, 17-16, in Houston.
The two coaches were in the same division throughout Coughlin's eight-year tenure in Jacksonville, first in the AFC Central, then, in 2002, in the AFC South. Their rivalry was never more heated than in 1999, when the Jaguars finished 15-3 and all three losses were to the Titans, including the 33-14 defeat in the conference title game.
Coughlin and Fisher have met once since the former took over the Giants in 2004 – and that was also one of the bitterest defeats of Coughlin's career. On Nov. 26, 2006, the Giants owned a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter before the Titans rallied for a 24-21 triumph in Nashville.
Fisher, the longest-tenured head coach with one team in the NFL, is in his 16th full season. That puts him one year behind new Washington coach Mike Shanahan for the most years as a head coach among those active. New England's Bill Belichick is in his 16th year as an NFL head coach, while Coughlin is in his 15th.
Fisher is the only one of those four coaches that has not won a Super Bowl. The Titans lost Super Bowl XXXIX to the St. Louis Rams, 23-16.
Belichick is first among active coaches with 149 regular season victories (plus 15 in the playoffs). Shanahan is second with 147 (plus eight), Fisher is third with 137 (plus five) and Coughlin is fourth with 124 (plus eight).
All four are among the 23 winningest coaches in NFL history. A victory on Sunday would make Coughlin the 24th coach in league history with at least 125 regular season victories. And he would earn it at the expense of his longtime rival.
*After Sunday's 38-14 loss in Indianapolis, Coughlin is 56-42 as the Giants' head coach. He is 28-21 both at home and on the road.
*The Giants under Coughlin are 43-21 when they rush for at least 100 yards and 13-21 when they don't. In his career, Coughlin's teams are 94-51 when they hit the century mark on the ground, 30-51 when they fall short.
*Under Coughlin, the Giants are 28-21 when they win the coin toss and 28-21 when they lose the coin toss.
*Hakeem Nicks is third on the team and tied for 80th in the NFL with six receptions – but he leads the league with four touchdown catches.
*Indianapolis ran the ball 43 times against the Giants Sunday night (including three Peyton Manning kneel-downs at the end of the game). That was the Colts' highest number of rushing attempts since Dec. 7, 1997, the year before they drafted Manning.
*The Giants are tied for second in the NFL with six takeaways. But they are also tied for second in the league with seven turnovers, for a minus-one differential.
*The Giants have not had an individual 100-yard rusher in 13 consecutive games, their longest streak since they went 23 games in a row from 1995-97.
*Eli Manning has started 89 games for the Giants. He is 26-19 at home, 25-19 on the road. Manning has been sacked 155 times for 1,089 yards in losses: 75 sacks for 544 yards at home, 80 sacks for 545 yards on the road.