Five moments that shaped the season: No. 4

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
11:30
AM ET
The original list of five moments that shaped the New York Giants' 2013 season was all negative, which seemed all right since it was a sub-.500 season that began with an 0-6 start and never had a real chance. But when I thought about it some more, that wasn't completely fair, because the Giants did win seven of their final 10 games and deserve credit for not falling apart under circumstances that would have caused some teams -- Cough! Redskins! Cough! -- to crumble. So with that in mind, we devote the Tuesday edition of "five moments" to a memory that wasn't altogether awful.

No. 4: Justin Tuck sacks Robert Griffin III four times in the same game

This was the 24-17 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday night, Dec. 1 in Landover, Md., that improved the Giants to 5-7 and kept them mathematically alive in the playoff race for one more week. And while it was one of the better games of the year for Eli Manning and the offense (they only scored more than 24 points in two games), the standout performance was Tuck's four-sack effort. It symbolized a defense that had taken it upon itself to have a big second half of the season once it was clear the offense didn't work, and it shone a light on a season that was already going very well for Tuck, even though his sack totals weren't overly impressive up until that point.

The reason this game helped "shape" the season is that I think it changed the public perception of Tuck as a viable part of the Giants' future beyond 2013. Heck, it may well have changed the Giants' perception of Tuck and made it more likely that they sign him to a free-agent contract to stick around for a while. Time will tell on that. But since the year began as a make-or-break one for Tuck following two disappointing individual seasons in a row, Dec. 1 was a night of vindication for a great and proud Giant.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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