The stunning, thrilling and unforgettable play the Giants used to defeat the Washington Redskins Sunday occurs less than once a year in the NFL.
Oh, quarterbacks and receivers hook up for numerous long completions, such as the pass Eli Manning threw to Victor Cruz, who turned it into the 77-yard touchdown that gave the Giants their first NFC East victory of the season, 27-23. But very few of them occur with only 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, as the Giants' play did.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was just the eighth game-winning touchdown of 77 or more yards in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2000 season. And two of them took place this season. On Sept. 23, Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts with 45 seconds remaining in Indianapolis to give the Jaguars a 22-17 victory over the Colts.
Manning's pass to Cruz was the longest game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes of a fourth quarter in Giants history. To find the Giants' previous long game-winning score so late in a game, you have to travel back 59 years, to Nov. 1, 1953. On that date Arnie Galiffa threw a 75-yard pass to Kyle Rote with seven seconds remaining to give the Giants a 23-20 victory over the Chicago Cardinals in Wrigley Field.
The careers of Manning and Galiffa are vastly different. Manning, a nine-year veteran, made his 126th consecutive start for the Giants on Sunday. The pass to Cruz was the 4,186th attempt and 2,460th completion of his career.
Galiffa - who played college football at Army and served in the Korean War - played three games and threw 13 passes with four completions while playing only three games for the Giants. The year after the throwing the game-winner to Rote, Galiffa's NFL career ended after four games, 12 passes and three completions with the San Francisco 49ers. Galiffa later played two years in the Canadian Football League. The 75-yarder to Rote – who caught exactly 300 passes in an 11-year Giants career – was the longest completion of his brief career.
*The victory over Washington was the 22nd regular-season game in which Manning rallied the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to win. That ties him with Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck for fifth place among active NFL quarterbacks.
On Sunday Hasselbeck, clearly unwilling to relinquish his share of fifth place, also threw a dramatic late touchdown pass. His 15-yard throw to Nate Washington on a fourth-and-nine with 1:03 left gave the Titans a 35-34 victory in Buffalo.
The names of the top four quarterbacks on the list include no surprises. The leader is Peyton Manning, with 47 victories in which he led his team back from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie. He is followed, in order, by Tom Brady (30), Drew Brees (28) and Ben Roethlisberger (25).
*The touchdown pass to Cruz was the 197th of Manning's regular-season career. The breakdown by quarter is 38 in the first, 58 in the second, 37 in the third and 63 in the fourth, plus one in overtime. That's 32.5 percent of his touchdown passes that have been thrown after the end of the third quarter.
*Manning leads the NFL with 2,109 passing yards – five more than Brady and 12 more than Brees. The last Giant to lead the league in passing in a full season was Ed Danowski in 1935 – with 794 yards in 12 games.
*Manning increased his career passing yardage total on Sunday to 29,688. He passed Roman Gabriel (29,444) to move into 37th place on the NFL's career list.
*Manning's record as a starter in October is now 26-5 (.839), the highest winning percentage of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
*The game-winning score Sunday was Cruz's sixth career touchdown reception longer than 70 yards. He is tied with Green Bay's Greg Jennings and San Francisco's Randy Moss for most among active players. The Giants record is 10 by Homer Jones, who played from 1964-69.
*Cruz is third in the NFL with 50 catches, fourth with 627 receiving yards, third with 15 third-down receptions and tied for first with seven touchdown catches.
*Lawrence Tynes leads the NFL with 77 points, six more than New England's Steve Gostkowski. No other kicker has more than 64 points.
Tynes has succeeded on 19 of 21 field goal attempts, both league-high totals. The 19 field goals match his total for the entire season in both 2010 and 2011. He set his career high of 27 with Kansas City in 2005 and matched it with the Giants in 2009.
*Tynes has 518 points in his Giants career and needs nine to pass Brad Daluiso and move into second place on the team's all-time list.
*The Redskins rushed for 248 yards on Sunday. That was the most yards allowed on the ground in a home game by the Giants since Dec. 8, 1968, when the St. Louis Cardinals ran for 277 yards.
*Stevie Brown has 131 yards on three interception returns this season, the highest total by a Giant since Tito Wooten had 146 yards on five picks in 1997.
*The Giants' victory over Washington was the 650th regular-season win in the 88-year history of the franchise. The Giants' lifetime regular-season record is 650-533-33. They have 360 victories at home and 290 on the road.
*The Giants have allowed an NFL-low six sacks, two less than Buffalo and Houston.
*The Giants have made a league-high 32 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line (New England is second with 31). They have scored 30 times (93.8 percent), but have scored just 15 touchdowns, a 46.9 percent rate that places them 22nd in the NFL.
*Unusual stat of the season: The Giants are 2-0 when leading after the first quarter and 3-0 when trailing after one period. But they are 0-2 when tied after one quarter.