NY Giants Schedule: Top-10 season openers of all-time
5. September 7, 1980 – NY Giants 41, St. Louis Cardinals 35
There wasn’t much that went right for this franchise from 1964-1983. Over the 20 year span, the Giants registered just three winning seasons and ten 10+ loss seasons. The 1980 season came following back-to-back 6-10 seasons with little expectations that year would produce any better results.
Lead by second year quarterback Phil Simms, the NY Giants looked to start the season off on the right foot vs an equally unimpressive and mediocre St. Louis Cardinals squad.
Neither team could stop the opposing team’s offense. The Cardinals, lead by QB Jim Hart, amassed 419 yards of offense with 322 of those coming through the air. They converted 8-13 on 3rd downs and averaged a ridiculous 7 yards/play.
On the other hand, the Giants tallied 378 offensive yards. Second-year QB Phil Simms registered 280 yards through the air as receiver Earnest Gray accounted for 174 of those yards on nine receptions. Four of those receptions would result in touchdowns, setting a single game franchise-record that has yet to be broken. He connected with Simms on touchdown receptions of 10, 37, 42, and 20 yards.
With the day that Gray had, it’s no surprise that after Simms would go on to set a career-high mark of five touchdown passes in a game. To put the performance into perspective, Simms would play in 13 games in 1980 and throw 15 total touchdowns. Meaning 33% of his season passing scores came in one game.
I will give credit where it is due and acknowledge that the Giants defense did force five turnovers, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, adding four sacks as well.
The season opener was a bright spot on an otherwise abysmal year. The Giants would end up going 4-12 and finish with the second worst point differential in franchise history (-176). The consolation prize, however, was the 2nd overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. I think we all know how that turned out.