"Huh?" said Taylor.
"I want you to go to New Orleans, and I want you to take your helmet with you," said Parcells.
"Yup. Go find [ Saints linebacker] Pat Swilling. You don't need your jersey, because he wears the same number. Give him your plane ticket and your helmet, and let him fly back here. You stay in New Orleans and have a nice time. He'll play, because he's the only guy who can handle Pankey. You can't."
Taylor stalked off. But the message got through. On Tuesday, for the first time in his career, Taylor lifted weights in the weight room twice in one day.
So the game would be a matchup between the loose and quick-strike Californians and the men on a mission from New Jersey who had to do everything right. And they did—for 28 minutes. Taylor cut off two Los Angeles drives with jarring sacks of Everett, and Anderson, who finished with a season-high 120 yards, rushed for 24 and 36 yards, respectively, on the Giants' first two drives. Both ended in field goals by Raul Allegre, and New York headed toward halftime ahead 6-0.
Then Everett began being Everett. The Giants, conservative to a fault all season, had the lead and the ball on their own nine-yard line with 1:45 to go in the half. This time Parcells uncharacteristically tried to get more. "What are we doing?" said one befuddled New York player as his team kept attacking. Five plays into the drive Simms threw the ball right at L.A. cornerback Jerry Gray. It ricocheted off Gray's hands to safety Michael Stewart, who returned it 29 yards to the Giants' 20. Bang! Everett to Anderson at the goal line, and the Rams led 7-6.
"They'd thrown everything but the kitchen sink at us—Anderson, Taylor, all kinds of pass patterns—and we came into the locker room ahead," said L.A. corner LeRoy Irvin.
Robinson's light-and-lively mind immediately went to work. "I try to give the players something visual at half-time," said Robinson later. "So I told them that was our rope-a-dope half. They were Ali, and they kept letting the Giants hit 'em and hit 'em. I told them it was our time to hit back."
The Rams would have the ball six more times. Each time they would get into Giants territory. It was only a matter of time, it seemed, before they would win.