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Tom Thumb's adventures with the Giants
Tex Maule
October 26, 1959
On a day of rare consistency New York's defense found a way to stop Tom McDonald
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October 26, 1959

Tom Thumb's Adventures With The Giants

On a day of rare consistency New York's defense found a way to stop Tom McDonald

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He got up again to demonstrate.

"You want to keep your eyes up at the top of your head so you can follow the ball, and you want to reach without leaning. Leaning throws you off balance."

He sat on the edge of the bed, his hands clasped between his knees and looked at them. "I got good hands," he said seriously. "Every receiver up here has. I lost part of this thumb [his left] in a motor bike accident when I was a junior in high school, but it's stronger than the other now. Van Brocklin calls me Tom Thumb."

His hands are not very large and appear slender rather than strong.

"Another thing," he said. "If you want to be a good receiver you got to be a good actor. Elroy Hirsch was a great actor. You got to put on a false face. Your man watches your face and he can read your eyes, so you got to act your way past him. You got to make him think you're a decoy. Hirsch did that. He'd slow down like his part of the play was over, then take off. Fast, slow, fast. Speed is one of my big attributes."

Sunday afternoon against the Giants, McDonald used his speed, his acting ability and his fine hands, and he caught only two passes. Unfortunately, he ran into a defense concocted by one of the most astute defensive coaches in pro football, the Giants' Tom Landry. And Jim Patton, the key to the Giant secondary defense, who was injured and out of the first game between the two teams, was healthy and very much present at this game.

"We gave them passes to Dick Bielski," Landry said after the game. "We had to double up our defense on McDonald and on Pete Retzlaff, so we had to cover Bielski only minimally. It worked out all right. Crow took McDonald short, and on the long passes, where he cut across field, Patton picked him up. It worked out pretty well."

Landry could gamble on this defense for two reasons: one, the Giant line overpowered the Eagle running offense; and two, the Giant linebackers and secondary defense were quick enough to hold Bielski's gains down to reasonably short yardage. The turning point in the game came, in fact, on Harland Svare's interception of a pass intended for Clarence Peaks. Landry has a few "pick-off" plays for his defense—plays in which a defender will purposely play a little out of position in order to lure an unsuspecting quarterback to throw into apparently unguarded territory. Svare's interception, good for 70 yards and a touchdown, came on a pass thrown into what must have seemed a very vulnerable spot. It wasn't. As McDonald found out, there were no apparent vulnerable spots in last Sunday's Giant defense.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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