Patriots 23, Giants 22

They said hello to bye in second half

1996 file/Henny ray abrams/afp/Getty Images
Ben Coates dragged the Giants’ Tito Wooten into the end zone as the Patriots overcame a 22-0 halftime deficit for a 23-22 win.

With Bill Parcells on the Patriots’ sideline, facing his former team for the first time, the franchises were on opposite arcs: New England would soon reach its first Super Bowl in 11 years, and the Dan Reeves-coached Giants finished with double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1979-80. But in the Week 17 matchup, there was cause for concern in New England. Needing a victory to gain a first-round bye, the AFC East champs, coming off a 6-point effort in Dallas, were abysmal in the first half. In fact, they were lucky to be trailing, 22-0, at the half after Drew Bledsoe intentionally grounded in his own end zone for a safety, had one of his two interceptions returned for a touchdown by Jason Sehorn, and led the Patriots to 74 yards on 28 plays. Things were totally different in the second half as the offense found traction. The turning point came early in the fourth quarter. Bledsoe hit Terry Glenn on a 26-yard TD pass to make it 22-10, and after a Giants three-and-out, Dave Meggett scored on a 60-yard punt return. Bledsoe (301 yards) ended his big half with the go-ahead TD toss, 13 yards to Ben Coates on fourth and 7, with 1:32 to play.