There are a couple of ways to look at the New York Giants’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
One is the game, which concludes the opening week of the NFL Week 1 campaign. Note the unusual start time of 7 p.m. It is one of two Monday night games per NFL Week 1 tradition. The Denver Broncos later host the Tennessee Titans.
Two is the Monday Night Football flashback, a recollection of big nights for Big Blue on the big stage.
Let’s first take a look at Monday’s game, when the Steelers meet the Giants at their empty home stadium. No fans will be roaring at this MNF game.
Monday Night Football odds: NY Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The top NJ sportsbook apps put the Giants as underdogs to the might of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Last updated at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11.
Steelers QB the focus of betting action
Pittsburgh opened as 3.5-point favorites for the game at MetLife Stadium.
“What it comes down to, I think, is that bettors believe this is the last chance for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get it done,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings.
“[Roethlisberger] is healthy now, and that’s a big factor. For the Steelers, maybe this is the last hurrah.”
Pittsburgh won eight games with smoke and mirrors and without the injured Roethlisberger last year. The team’s offense was a shadow of itself without a quarterback who could throw the deep ball, and yet coach Mike Tomlin’s team avoided a losing record.
The Steelers have never absorbed one in his 13 years, although this was the time it could have occurred.
Pittsburgh has excellent deep-threat receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson to go with Roethlisberger now.
Giants hope to start the year on the right foot
As for the Giants, Avello sees a team looking to start anew from a 4-12 campaign.
“The Giants are still trying to build the team,” he said. “The quarterback [Daniel Jones] is making improvements but still has a way to go yet. But even though the focus of the money has been on the Steelers, you have to remember that Jersey climate. You know closer to game time that we would expect to see more money coming in on the Giants.”
Avello said the Giants at times “come up with surprise years. We have seen that in the past.”
And indeed, a look at the G-Men’s Monday Night Football history is a snapshot of that. Two definitive Monday Night wins came in the midst of their surprise seasons, which resulted in Super Bowl triumphs.
Top 5 Monday Night Football games for the NY Giants
Here are five celebrated Monday Night moments, chosen by a jury of one.
1. Mark Bavaro’s grit — Dec. 1, 1986
This 21-17 road victory was a coming-of-age triumph for the NY Giants en route to the Super Bowl they would capture a couple of months later.
They trailed 17-0 against the host San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter when Phil Simms completed a pass to tight end Mark Bavaro. The rugged Bavaro rumbled 25 yards, more than 10 with four defenders on his back.
The play gained a key first down and exemplified the Giants’ grit. They scored a touchdown on the drive and then got two more while holding the Niners scoreless in the second half.
The victory was considered an indication the Giants could get to the next level.
One month later, the Giants would pound San Francisco 49-3 in the playoffs. Bavaro’s catch was the beginning of New York’s 70-3 run against a playoff team.
2. Final heroics vs. the 49ers — Sept. 2, 1991
The G-Men opened defense of their 1990 championship with a nail-biter against the Niners, winning on the final play of the game.
A downfield drive and a field goal on the last play gave the Giants a 16-14 triumph in prime time.
3. Tiki Barber ends the Cowboys’ winning streak — Oct. 18, 1999
The Giants had never beaten the Dallas Cowboys on the Monday Night Football stage. Tiki Barber ensured that they would.
First, he returned a fourth-quarter punt for an 85-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 10-3 lead.
After Dallas marched down the field to secure a tie, Barber made the game-breaking play on the final drive. He took a pass from quarterback Kent Graham and stormed 55 yards to the Dallas four-yard line.
The Giants ran the clock down and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. They had finally put a Monday Night Football “L” on Big D, 13-10.
4. Tiki Barber and the Giants defense — Sept. 19, 2005
The Giants were supposed to play MNF in New Orleans, but the city had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The game was switched to New York. And in the home confines, Barber excelled with two first-half touchdowns. The defense added six takeaways, and the result was one of the Giants’ most dominating Monday night efforts on both sides of the ball.
They prevailed 27-10 as an away team on their own field.
5. Eli Manning, a 43-yard TD and a Giants victory — Oct. 15, 2007
It was not only what the game proved but what it promised that put this 31-10 Giants victory against the host Atlanta Falcons on the list.
Quarterback Eli Manning tossed a beautiful 43-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress to put the Giants in front for good.
New York’s dominating effort signaled the best was ahead. It was the team’s largest victory margin of the entire season. It was the Giants’ fourth straight win in what would become a six-game win streak, showing they could get hot.
Later, they did, stunning the heavily favored New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 42.
AP Photo/John Minchillo