Giants' season ends with yet another bad snapPosted: Sunday January 05, 2003 10:24 PM
Updated: Sunday January 05, 2003 11:27 PM
Seconds later, the ball came low and to the left from newly signed snapper Trey Junkin, and the Giants never got off the field goal that could have been the game-winner in their 39-38 NFC wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
From 24 points ahead to elimination in less than 20 minutes.
"This is about the worst loss I have ever felt in my entire life," said Giants coach Jim Fassel, whose team won its final four games, including the last one of the season on an overtime field goal by Bryant. "I am not going to get over this one for a while."
Despite blowing the big lead, the Giants nearly made a comeback of their own. They drove to the San Francisco 23 in the final minute. Then, with 6 seconds left, New York (10-7) gave Bryant another big chance.
Allen's warning came true. Bryant never got it.
"I told him, 'Just be aware, go ahead and trust me to go ahead and expect the ball to go down,'" Allen said. "I told Junkin to get it right. I told him, 'You've been playing in this league for 19 years; you've got to come through for us.'"
When the snap came and Allen couldn't control it, he scooped up the ball. Many of the Giants sprinted toward the end zone, and Allen heaved a desperation pass that fell incomplete.
Flags were thrown because New York had linemen downfield, so even if the pass had been caught, it wouldn't have mattered.
"I tried to make the perfect snap instead of a good snap," the 41-year-old Junkin said only five days after coming out of retirement to sign with the Giants. "You don't do that. This is something I've done for 32 years, but not anymore."
Bryant had missed wide left with 3:01 remaining from 42 yards after another low snap.
Long-snapping plagued the Giants all season.
Three bad snaps helped cost New York seven points in a 27-20 victory at Minnesota on Nov. 10. Fassel said that game caused him to lose sleep, because he was constantly waking up in the middle of the night recalling the miscues.
This cost the Giants much more -- their season.
"It's very frustrating," Bryant said. "I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating. I've gone through five or six snappers and two holders. It's been strange this year. Probably, what's most frustrating of all is that I didn't get a chance."
Two of the Giants' starting offensive linemen, Jason Whittle and Chris Bober, came to the team as long snappers. When they developed enough at their positions to start, the duties were taken away because practicing with kickers would have taken time away from their primary jobs.
After the fiasco in Minnesota, Whittle was used for a short time, but reluctantly.
Even quarterback Kerry Collins couldn't help being a little surprised by Junkin's performance after watching how well he snapped in practice. Collins stressed that Junkin wasn't the only one responsible for the second-worst collapse in NFL playoff history.
"It was just complete and utter shock," Collins said. "It shouldn't have come down to that. That's the bottom line, and we have only ourselves to blame for that."