We won't know for a few weeks whether the 2011 Giants season will be termed a success, but we can say with certainty it is uncommonly exciting and entertaining, thanks to numerous games decided in the final moments and a quarterback performing feats never before seen in franchise history.
On Sunday night, the Giants overcame a 12-point deficit with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the Dallas Cowboys, 37-34. It was the fifth time this season the Giants won a game in which they trailed in the fourth quarter. Add a victory over Buffalo in which they were tied late in the game and losses to Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Green Bay that were decided in the final moments, and the Giants have learned that a game hasn't truly ended until the scoreboard clock shows all zeroes.
The Giants were one of five teams on Sunday to win a game in which they trailed by at least 12 points, the most in a single day in NFL history. The others were Atlanta (16 points), Jacksonville (14), Houston (13) and Arizona (12).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants' five victories after trailing in the fourth quarter tie the franchise record set in 2002. The Giants are tied with Arizona, Cincinnati and Denver for the most such victories this season.
In Dallas, the Giants became just the second team this season to win a game by overcoming a deficit of at least 12 points with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Denver did it at Miami on Oct. 23 in Tim Tebow's first start.
It was the first time the Giants won under such circumstances since Sept. 21, 1969, when they trailed Minnesota, 23-10, before Fran Tarkenton threw two touchdown passes to Don Herrmann in the final 4:48 for a 24-23 victory. The victory in Dallas was the first time in their 87-year history the Giants overcame a deficit of at least 12 points with less than five minutes remaining to win on the road.
The victory in Dallas was the second game this season in which the Giants won by scoring two touchdowns in the final 3½ minutes. They did it at New England on Nov. 6, though the second, game-winning score was necessitated by a touchdown the Patriots scored between the two by the Giants.
The Giants' two late touchdowns against the Cowboys were scored 2:28 apart. It was the second time this season the Giants scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in such a short time span. On Oct. 2 in Arizona, the Giants beat the Cardinals by scoring touchdowns 58 seconds apart in the final quarter.
These thrilling, last-minute victories are, in large measure, brought to you by Eli Manning, who is putting together the best passing season by a quarterback in Giants history.
Manning has thrown for 4,105 yards, which is a franchise single-season record – with three games remaining. With New Orleans' Brees (4,368), New England's Tom Brady (4,273), Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (4,125) and Manning, this is the first time in NFL history the league has four 4,000-yard passers after Week 14. All four quarterbacks have a chance to break Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 yards, set in 1984.
In the Giants final three games – against Washington, the Jets and Dallas – Manning will set franchise records if he throws 80 passes (current record: 568 by Kerry Collins in 2002) and completes 37 (record: 339 by Manning last season). With 25 touchdown passes, he needs 11 to tie Y.A. Tittle's franchise record of 36, set in 1962.
Manning threw for exactly 400 yards Sunday in Dallas after passing for a career-high 420 yards vs. Seattle and 406 at New Orleans. He joins Marino as the only quarterbacks in history with at least three 400-yard games in a season. Marino had three in 1986 and four in 1984.
On Sunday, Manning became the first opposing quarterback to throw for 400 yards against the Cowboys in Dallas since Oct. 25, 1981, when Miami's David Woodley passed for 408 yards in Texas Stadium.
He was the first Giants quarterback to throw for at least 400 yards without being sacked (since sacks became an official statistic in 1982) and the first in the NFL since Tampa Bay's Brian Griese on Sept. 21, 2008.
This season, Manning has thrown 14 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. That ties Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (1959) and Peyton Manning (2002) for the most in NFL history. With three games to play, Manning can set himself apart in that statistical category. No other quarterback has thrown more than nine fourth-quarter touchdown passes this season.
Manning continues to lead the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating with 117.0. Rodgers is second at 112.6.
*The Giants have 3,953 net passing yards this season. They need only 66 yards to break the franchise record of 4,019, set in 2009. Manning has five completions this season longer than 66 yards.
*The Giants scored touchdowns on possessions that covered 80, 80 and 85 yards Sunday, the first time they had three touchdown drives of at least 80 yards in a game since Oct. 14, 1990 at Washington.
*The Giants' last three opponents – New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas – each gained at least 444 yards, the first time that's happened in franchise history.
*Those same three opponents each threw four touchdown passes, the first time that's happened in Giants history and the first time it occurred in the NFL since the Houston Oilers gave up at least four touchdown passes in each of three consecutive games in 1986.
*The Giant-Dallas game featured eight lead changes, the most in the NFL since Indianapolis and Jacksonville traded the lead nine times on Dec. 17, 2009. It tied the game in Dallas on Sept. 20, 2009 for the most lead changes in a Giants game since the merger.
*Brandon Jacobs' 56 career rushing touchdowns, the franchise record he set Sunday night, place him seventh among active players.
*Victor Cruz is third in the NFL with 1,150 receiving yards. Hakeem Nicks is ninth with 1,023. The Giants and New England (Wes Welker and Ron Gronkowski) are the only teams with two players on the list.
*Jason Pierre-Paul is fifth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks.
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