Nickolas Loza | April 25th, 2019
In the second part of my ten-part series, I will go over the most famous misplay in Giants playoff history, Long Snapper Trey Junkin’s botched snap on the Giants game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation. This caused them to lose the game, 39-38. But before I get to the aforementioned play, we’ll go over the happenings before this game and during the game.
The Two Teams and their seasons before this game
Both teams heading into this game were 10-6, and they met once in the regular season which resulted in a 49ers win. But that was all the way back in Week One, and a lot of things had changed since then. The two teams would end up sending six players to the Pro Bowl, including 49ers Quarterback Jeff Garcia and Wide Receiver Terrell Owens. The Giants sent Michael Strahan and Jeremy Shockey. The 49ers were one of the NFL’s hottest teams after week 10, with their record being 7-2. They collapsed relatively speaking down the stretch, losing four of their final seven games, but still won their own division at 10-6, and had the fourth seed in the playoffs. Meanwhile, in New York, the Giants looked dead in the water at 6-6 after Week 13, but they managed to pull out four consecutive wins including a win in OT against the Eagles in Week 17 to qualify for the postseason with the fifth seed.
The Game Itself leading up to the botched snap
With the 49ers being a higher seed, they got the honor of hosting the wild card game. To start the game, the Giants won the toss and made injured 49ers kicker Jeff Chandler kick the ball off to them. They took the ball down the field but a pass intended for Ron Dayne deflected off his hands and was intercepted by 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson. Then one play later QB Jeff Garcia delivered a pass to WR Terrell Owens for a 76-yard touchdown to go up 7-0. With 0:18 left in the first quarter the Giants tied it up with an Amani Toomer touchdown. Then the two teams would trade touchdowns in the second quarter before the Giants would take over before the half ended with a pair of Amani Toomer touchdowns to put the Giants up 28-14 going into the half. To start the second half, the 49ers turned the ball over on downs, which the Giants scored on to make it 35-14, they would add a field goal with 4:30 left in the third quarter to make it 38-14, which would be the last points the Giants would score on this fateful day. The 49ers would create two touchdowns and 2 two-point conversions to make it 38-30. The 49ers would kick a field goal to make it 38-33, then score the games final points to make it 39-38.
The most intriguing thing to happen in this game yet came after the last 49er touchdown, Terrell Owens was flagged for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, and so was Giants Safety Shaun Williams. The same thing happened on the next play, causing Williams to be ejected by virtue of him having two unnecessary roughness/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the game. A brawl broke out on the 49ers sideline after the second series of penalties after the failed two-point conversion.
The Giants Drive Down The Field and Try their Field Goal
The Giants started on their own 47-yard line, and with three completions they managed to march their way to a 41-yard field goal attempt. Now, with all this being said we need to look at Long Snapper Trey Junkin’s season, or lack thereof so far. He hadn’t played a game up until this point, and he basically sat on his couch watching this season until now. He snapped the ball well low of where it was supposed to be, so Placekicker Matt Allen picked the football up, ran to his right and threw a wobbling, prayer of a pass down the field and what happened next was extremely controversial. Allen tried to pass downfield, but he passed the ball incomplete to an ineligible receiver, which drew a flag for two different reasons, one because the receiver got interfered with, and one for being ineligible downfield, these penalties offset, which ended the game. The most controversial part of it all was the receiver was actually eligible. The league apologized to the Giants, and the 49ers moved on to the next round, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was the 49ers last grasp at a championship, the next year they would begin the descent into mediocrity, while the Giants would win a Super Bowl five years later.
In conclusion, the Giants were basically fleeced out of a playoff win, and the 49ers somewhat undeservingly moved on. It stands up as the most controversial moment in the Giants-49ers rivalry, and probably the most memorable. This is a moment in sports history where booth review started to come in, and rule changes were made because of this play, this is why it’s so impactful.
Hope you all enjoyed!
Read more of my Football Flashback Series:
Part 1: Tony Romo’s Botched Playoff Snap
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Main Image Credit: Associated Press File Photo