The New York Giants and the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts haven’t played very often over time but when they do, it’s usually an occasion.
In 2002, the Giants headed into their Week 16 game against the 9-6 Colts at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis with an 8-6 record and needed to keep rolling in order to qualify for the NFC Playoffs.
The game pitted the Giants against a powerful Colts offense that sported such notables as quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James, and wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
Big Blue would attempt to counter with their own stars: quarterback Kerry Collins, running back Tiki Barber, tight end Jeremy Shockey and wideout Amani Toomer.
The game was the shootout most expected but not until after the Giants jumped out to a 30-6 lead in the third quarter. The Giants rode a blocked punt and an interception to a quick 10-0 lead and then an 82-yard flea flicker to Toomer extended the lead to 17-3.
The closest the Colts would get was 37-27 with 4:44 left on a Manning-to-Wayne 40-yard strike. The Giants would answer with a 27-yard Collins-to-Toomer hookup to close things out.
Collins would out-pass Manning in the game, 366-365, on 23-of-29 passing with four touchdowns to Manning’s three.
The Giants held James to just 13 yards rushing while Barber ran for 60 and had two scores. Shockey caught seven passes for 116 yards but it was Toomer who stole the show, grabbing 10 of 12 targets for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
Toomer’s 204 yards receiving was the third-highest ever by a Giant in a single game at the time. Del Shofner had 269 yards against Washington in 1962 and Gene Roberts had 212 in a 1949 game against Green Bay.
The mark has since been tied by Plaxico Burress (204 in 2005 against the Rams) and eclipsed by Odell Beckham, Jr (222 versus Baltimore in 2016).
The victory moved the Giants to 9-6 on the season. They needed just a win over the Philadelphia Eagles the next week to clinch a playoff spot, which they picked up.
“It’s going to come down to the final straws and we don’t need to get sweaty palms,” Giants head coach Jim Fassel said. “We need to just get ready to go out and play another football game.”