George Martin’s Amazing Play: 25 Years Ago This Week
By Joe Tufaro
As the Giants hosted the Denver Broncos and John Elway in week 12 of the 1986 season, there was a very special buzz in the air. That day at Giants stadium in front of the usual sell-out crowd, you got the feeling that this game would determine the teams fate for the year. Although games with San Francisco and Washington loomed in the following two weeks, this game was against a very strong AFC opponent who many thought was the class of the league. The Giants now standing at 9-2 along with the Broncos were still struggling on offense at this point in the season, and the defense knew it was up to them to keep the young Mr. Elway under control. In the 2nd quarter with the Giants trailing 6-3 John Elway faded back and looked to his right for his running back in the flat. As he released the ball defensive end George Martin leapt in the air and made a one handed interception. What ensued was one of the slowest, and oddly uncontested runbacks in the history of the NFL. For 74 yards Martin first eluded the very strong Elway, then continually tried to make up his mind if he should hand the ball to the swifter Lawrence Taylor who was accompanying him down the field. Each time he looked as though he would hand it off to Taylor, a Bronco would come in the vicinity and Martin would put the ball away and continue on his jaunt. The play obviously got the crowd into the game and was really a play you expected from that defense. The Giants led 10-6 at halftime. Later in the fourth with the score tied at 16, Phil Simms hit Phil McConkey on a 46 yard pass that set up another last second field goal by Raul Allegre and continued a 5 game winning streak.
That day in the stadium, after the Martin play, my friends and I decided this was a turning point in the season and the next day….remember no computers or internet in 1986….I went to the local travel agent and purchased 6 round trip tickets to Los Angeles for Super Bowl 21 at $200 a piece. This act of confidence would pay off in the end…but that is a story for another week.