Russell: Rare Big Game Between Giants and Lions

The Giants and Lions both enter Sunday’s game with 9-4 records, making this a rare big game between two of the league’s oldest franchises. Detroit is trying to hold off a surge from Green Bay and the Giants are hoping to catch Dallas in the NFC East. The Giants and Lions have met 43 times without many iconic moments to remember.

The biggest matchup was the 1935 NFL Championship Game which Detroit won 26-7. And there was a 1943 game famous for being the only scoreless game in league history.

Three weeks before losing to the Colts in the Greatest Game Ever Played, the Giants pulled out a 19-17 victory in Detroit. And the 1962 Giants team that made the championship game defeated Detroit  17-14 in October.

Detroit won the next five matchups before the Giants beat the Lions 24-10 during the 1976 season.
Arguably the most memorable game came on Thanksgiving 1982, when the 0-3 Giants traveled to the Silverdome.  New York trailed 6-0 at halftime and the offense would only gain 27 yards in the second half but came out with a win because of Lawrence Taylor. First, Taylor pressured Gary Danielson into a quick throw which led to an interception and a field goal. Later, Taylor forced a fumble leading to another field goal. In the fourth quarter, and the Lions facing a third and goal at the four, Taylor intercepted a Danielson pass and went 97 yards for the touchdown.

The 10-win Giants of 1988 actually beat Detroit twice in three weeks because of a scheduling quirk but would miss the playoffs because of a last minute loss to the Jets in the final game of the season.

The 1989 NFC East champs handed the Lions a 24-14 loss and the 1990 Super Bowl XXV team beat Detroit 20-0.

In 1997, a year both teams made the playoffs, New York pulled out a 26-20 win as Danny Kanell and Chris Calloway connected on an overtime touchdown.

Three years later, the Lions went into the Meadowlands and handed the Giants an embarrassing 31-21 loss which dropped Big Blue to 7-4. This game is remembered for the Jim Fassel guarantee in the postgame press conference, as the Giants wouldn’t lose again until Super Bowl XXXV.

The 2004 meeting had the opposite effect on New York. The Giants entered the game 4-1, but Joey Harrington went 18-for-22, throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-13 Lions win. Kurt Warner was sacked six times and would be replaced by Eli Manning after nine games. Tom Coughlin’s team finished with a 6-10 record.

There was a crossroads in the 2007 game, which both teams entered with 6-3 records. New York won 16-10 and went on to win Super Bowl XLII. Detroit finished 7-9 and followed up with an 0-16 record in 2008.

The Giants, out of the playoff race, did damage to Detroit’s hopes in 2013 with a come-from-behind 23-20 win in overtime.

Ben McAdoo’s debut as Giants offensive coordinator didn’t go well as the Lions opened the 2014 season with a 35-14 win over New York.

So when these historic teams, both with a number one overall pick at QB , meet on Sunday, one will walk away with a 10-4 record.

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