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On This Date in Sports January 7, 1990: Flipper Up the Tunnel

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The Los Angeles Rams stun the New York Giants 19-13 in overtime of the Divisional Playoff Round at the Meadowlands. The Rams had been longing with frequent flyer miles over the last three weeks, playing games in Foxboro and Philadelphia before facing the Giants. The Rams won the overtime coin toss and needed just 66 seconds to win as Flipper Anderson caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jim Everett and continued into the tunnel as the Rams advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

Under coach Bill Parcells, the New York Giants struggled after winning Super Bowl XXI. In 1987 they started 0-5 with the use of replacement players and never recovered, finishing 6-9. The Giants dealt with a four-game suspension for Lawrence Taylor but recovered to win ten games in 1988. However, due to a loss to the New York Jets missed the playoffs again. The Giants reclaimed the NFC East in 1989, finishing 12-4 to earn the second seed in the NFC.

The Los Angeles Rams, coached by John Robinson, had to deal with the San Francisco 49ers in their division but again qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card with a record of 11-5. The Rams logged many miles getting to the Divisional Playoffs as they beat the New England Patriots 24-20 in Week 16 at Foxboro to clinch the postseason. A week later, they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 21-7 in the Wild Card Game at Veteran’s Stadium. This meant the third straight cross-country flight faced the Rams in the Divisional Round.

The Giants were in firm control of the game in the first quarter as they looked to avenge a 31-10 loss to the Rams in the regular season in Anaheim. However, both drives stalled as they settled for a pair of field goals by Raul Allegre. The Rams caught a break late in the second quarter when Michael Stewart intercepted Phil Simms. This set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jim Everett to Flipper Anderson with 17 seconds left in the half.

Los Angeles had a long-sustained drive at the start of the third quarter, ending with Mark Collins's interception in the end zone. The Giants get the lead back, as Ottis Anderson completed a 14-play, 82-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. In a game of swings, the Rams seized control again in the fourth quarter and tied the game with a pair of field goals by Mike Lansford.

The Rams won the coin toss for overtime and got the ball first. They quickly moved the ball down the field. On one play, Mark Collins felt a twinge in his leg and signaled to come out of the game but stayed in as nobody on the Giants sideline saw him. This left Collins one on one with Flipper Anderson down the sideline. Jim Everett would hit Anderson, who never broke stride and went through the end zone and up the tunnel to celebrate a 19-13 win, as Collins came down with a fractured ankle.

The Rams would advance to the NFC Championship but proved no match for the 49ers, losing 30-3 at Candlestick Park.