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Giants a Bust on L.T.'s Night : NFC: Celebration sours when the Giants fizzle in the second half and lose to the Vikings, 27-10.

October 11, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — L.T., phone home. You're desperately needed.

At least you were Monday night when the hometown team, the New York Giants, turned in such a clunker of a performance in losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 27-10, that Giants Stadium seemed to contain more ushers than fans in the final minutes.

Actually Lawrence Taylor, affectionately known as L.T. during a 13-year career in Giant blue, was back at Giants Stadium on Monday night with his jersey on for the first time this season. But unfortunately for the Giants, the man considered the greatest defensive player in team history was only there to retire that jersey.

By the time the game was over, Coach Dan Reeves must have felt like retiring a few more. With his players in them.

The scene seemed set for such a different finish.

The first half ended in a 10-10 tie, the Giants leaving the field on a high note. After Minnesota's Fuad Reviez and New York's David Treadwell exchanged field goals, Reviez's good from 44 yards out and Treadwell's from 22, the Vikings took the lead on a one-yard scoring run by Terry Allen.

But with 1:27 to play before intermission and the ball on the Giants' six-yard line, New York quarterback Dave Brown snapped his team out of its lethargy with an impressive run down the field, completing six of seven passes to bring the Giants to the Vikings' three-yard line.

On second down from there, Brown covered the remaining distance with a quarterback sneak, then joyously hurled the ball into the seats where the crowd of 77,294 was celebrating.

The crowd was alive.

Minutes later, out stepped Taylor for his tribute.

The crowd was inspired.

Back onto the field came the Giants.

The crowd was hysterical.

But on a first down from the 37-yard line on New York's opening drive of the second half, Brown, intending a pass for Mike Sherrard, instead threw the ball behind his receiver and into the arms of defensive back Anthony Parker, who raced 44 yards untouched into the end zone.

The crowd was stunned.

And so were the Giants, who weren't heard from again the rest of the cold, windy night.

"We knew the big crowd would be emotional because of L.T.," said Minnesota quarterback Warren Moon. "We knew we had to take it away from them early. The interception to start the second half took the wind out of their sails."

Mixing short completions across the middle by Moon under the Giants' deep coverage with slashing, effective runs by Allen, Minnesota dominated the second half offensively and shut the Giants' offense down to improve to 4-2.

Moon, looking as sharp as he ever did in his days with the Houston Oilers, completed 23 of 34 passes for 299 yards.

Cris Carter came into the game as the NFL's leading receiver with 41 catches. But when the Giants double-covered him much of the night, Moon looked elsewhere, hitting Qadry Ismail seven times for 117 yards.

Carter did manage to catch four for 50 yards. One of those completions went for a touchdown. Carter, who got one foot in the end zone before being shoved out by defensive back Tito Wooten, was given the six points when the officials ruled he had been forced out.

Reviez closed out the scoring with a 24-yard field goal.

The Giants (3-2) came into the game with the 26th-rated defense in the 28-team league and they did nothing to improve their standing, giving up 395 total yards.

But Reeves wasn't about to point the finger at any particular phase of play.

"We got beat," he said. "We got beat good. They beat us in almost every phase you can think of, as far as coaching, playing and execution."

Any chance the Giants might have had disappeared along with their running game.

It was hoped that Rodney Hampton, back after missing two games because of a kidney bruise, would supply the legs to balance Brown's arm.

Instead, Hampton managed only 27 yards on the ground and averaged 2.1 per carry. And the rest of the Giant rushing attack consisted of only 10 additional yards.

It was an emotional halftime thanks to Taylor. It wasn't the same after he left the field, which is what some people have been saying about the Giants all year.

Notes

Lawrence Taylor, the second-leading sacker in league history with 132.5, trails only the Green Bay Packers' Reggie White in that department. Taylor, the eighth Giant to have his uniform retired, told the crowd, "Without you fans, there would have been a Lawrence Taylor, but there wouldn't have been an L.T."

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