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New York Giants (1976–Present)

The Giants played their first game as a New Jersey team when they moved into Giants Stadium in 1976. After opening the season with four road games, the team christened their new home on October 10, losing to the Cowboys on their way to a 3–11 season—their fourth in a row with a losing record. In 1978, the franchise made it six years in a row and hit a low point when they lost the infamous Miracle in the Meadowlands game to the Eagles. At that point, owner Wellington Mara decided it might be time for the family-owned-and-operated team to hire its first general manager. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle recommended George Young.

Young got to work rebuilding the club around quarterback Phil Simms, whom he drafted over the protest of fans in 1979. In 1981, rookie Lawrence Taylor led the club back to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years with an overtime win over Dallas on the final day of the season. In 1983, Bill Parcells was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach. Over the next few years Pacrells blended veterans like Harry Carson and George Martin with rising stars Carl Banks, Leonard Marshall, Mark Collins and Pepper Martin to give the Giants one of the NFL’s top defensive units. Simms, meanwhile, had the weapons he needed in Mark Bavaro and Joe Morris to put points on the board. In 1986, the team went 14–2 and beat the 49ers and Redskins on the way to its first Super Bowl. Simms completed 22 of 25 passes in a 39–20 win over the Denver Broncos. It marked the franchise's first championship since 1956.

The Giants returned to the Super Bowl in 1990 following a 13–3 campaign. Jeff Hostetler filled in for Simms after a season-ending injury and led the team to playoff victories over the Bears and 49ers. The game with San Francisco was a violent defensive struggle that turned on a fourth-quarter fumble by Roger Craig. Matt Bahr kicked five field goals in a 15–13 win. Bahr produced the winning points in the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills, but the game was decided on a missed kick by Scott Norwood. Ottis Anderson, with 102 yards and a touchdown, was named Super Bowl MVP.

A few months later, Parcells stepped down as coach. The Giants would go 10 years before making it back to the Super Bowl, and made just two playoff appearances in the intervening seasons. During this era, the team’s top players included Rodney Hampton, Robert Brooks, Chris Calloway and Michael Strahan. Strahan was the leader of the defense in 2000 when the Giants won the NFC Championship Game 41–0 over the high-flying Minnesota Vikings. Their great season ended two weeks later when they were overwhelmed by the Baltimore Ravens 34–7.

In 2004, Tom Coughlin replaced Jim Fassel as coach and built the Giants around rookie Eli Manning and veteran Tiki Barber. Barber produced six 1,000 yard seasons in seven years and retired after the 2006 season, believing that Manning would be unable to produce a championship season. In 2007, Eli led the Giants to the Super Bowl, where they upset the New England Patriots 17–14. Four years later, Manning produced another Super Bowl win over the Patriots 21-17. Manning was named MVP in both Super Bowls. As always, the team depended on its defenses to keep games close.

 

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