1/07/1990 - Flipper's TD kills the Giants

Flipper2_medium

(Anderson races into the end zone for the game-winning score)

With the game tied at 13 all, the Giants and Rams captains faced each other at mid-field. The coin flip in question would decide which team had possession in the sudden-death overtime. Rams lineman Jackie Slater called heads; the coin landed face-up, and the Rams opted to receive the ball. Only sixty-six seconds later, the divisional-round playoff game was over.

Three plays into the overtime session, Los Angeles was on first down at their own 48. Quarterback Jim Everett lobbed it down field to Willie "Flipper" Anderson, who was met stride-for-stride by Sheldon White. The Giants defensive back made contact with Anderson as he dove for the ball and was called for pass interference, advancing the Rams 27 yards. The ruling was not a popular one in Giants Stadium; it appeared the ball was about a yard in front of Anderson when the call was made.

After a Rams off-side penalty, Everett lined in the backfield 30 yards shy of the end zone. The New York defense blitzed, thinking that LA would be running it since they were already in field goal range. Instead, Anderson eluded a Mark Collins bump near the line of scrimmage, and streaked down the right side of the field. Everett found him just feet from the goal line; Flipper caught the ball in stride and sprinted into the end zone, then through the tunnel that led to the locker room.

''Before the game, Aaron Cox and I said if either of us gets the winning touchdown in overtime, we would run straight to the locker room with it," Anderson said.

Even though he caught just two passes, Flipper left his mark on the game. Anderson's only other reception came at the tail-end of the first half. The Giants were leading 6-0 and had the ball at their own 35 with 34 seconds left. Electing to not run out the clock, Giants coach Bill Parcells gambled that they could increase their lead. Choosing to throw the ball instead, Phil Simms had his pass picked off by Michael Stewart, who took it to the New York 20. One play later, Everett connected with Anderson for a touchdown, and the Giants finished the half trailing 7-6.

New York fans had many reasons to bemoan the loss. Parcell's decision to not play it safe at the end of the half was one criticism. Another was that Mark Collins, who fractured his foot at the start of the overtime period, should not have been in the game to defend Willie Anderson. The most persistent gripe was over the dubious pass interference call that gave the Rams great field position.

''The ball wasn't catchable," Sheldon White complained to reporters. "It wasn't even close. Superman couldn't have caught that ball. That was a bad call, a bad call." Parcells refused to comment on the call, though he did tellingly state, ''You guys saw the play.''

Anderson's two-touchdown performance was his finest moment since setting the single-game record of 336 receiving yards. The Rams advanced to the NFC championship game and were drummed by the eventual champion 'Niners, 30-3. Giants fans were able to get over the loss pretty quickly -- New York retooled in the offseason and won the Super Bowl the following season.

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