In 1986, there was no team in the league that was up to the challenge of beating the New York Giants. It was finally their turn at the top after three decades of embarrassing futility.
Like the Chicago Bears the year before them, the Giants manhandled the NFL with a balanced offense and a smothering defense. After a las- second loss to Herschel Walker and the Dallas Cowboys on opening night, Big Blue lost just once more that year — a 17-12 Week 7 hiccup in Seattle — en route to a 14-2 record, still the best on franchise history.
In a recent list of the top 10 teams of the Super Bowl era by CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo, the 1986 Giants ranked 9th.
Bill Parcells’ first of two Super Bowl championship teams in New York lost two games by a combined eight points in 1986. The Giants were led by a hard-hitting defense that featured Hall of Fame pass rusher Lawrence Taylor and Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson. The Giants’ offense was led by quarterback Phil Simms, who enjoyed a Super Bowl for the ages against the Broncos. Along with throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, Simms completed 88% of his passes to lead the Giants to a 39-20 win over Denver in Super Bowl XXI.
Perhaps the most impressive feat that year was not their performance in the Super Bowl versus a physically inferior Denver team but the playoff wins over perennial NFC powers San Francisco and Washington.
The Giants romped over the 49ers at Giants Stadium in the divisional round, 49-3, in a game that ended with the great Joe Montana being hospitalized after taking a vicious hit by Giants’ nose tackle Jim Burt.
“We were shattered,” 49ers legendary coach Bill Walsh said after the game.
In the NFC Championship Game, the Giants shut out the Redskins, 17-0, their third victory that year over Joe Gibbs’ bunch. That is no reflection on Washington. No team on DeArdo’s list could have come into the Meadowlands on that blustery day and beat the Giants. None of them. Write that down. That Giant team had 30 years of momentum and a raucous New York/New Jersey crowd behind them. Giants Stadium was well-built structure, but it shook hard that afternoon.