If there is anyone who could have sympathized with Daniel Jones on Thursday night, it would have been Hap Moran.
He was the Giants player who, in 1930, set an NFL record with a 91-yard run against the Packers. It stood as the team record for 75 years, too, until Tiki Barber toped it with a 95-yarder in 2005. But what made Moran’s dash so interesting – and a little confounding – is that, like Jones, he failed to reach the end zone.
When plays go 80 or more yards, that’s generally tough to accomplish.
We all know why Jones didn’t score by now, stumbling and falling down 8 yards shy of the goal line in the 22-21 loss to the Eagles. Moran’s story is a bit different.
First of all, it wasn’t even a handoff. It was… a fake punt!
Back then, the name of the game in pro football was field position and teams would routinely kick on second or third downs. In that 1930 game against the Packers, the Giants defense had made a goal line stand at the 3. On second down, the Giants shifted into a punting formation to send the ball down the field rather than risk being pinned near their own end zone once again.
In 1992, when Moran was 91 years old, he was interviewed on video by the Giants about the play.
"I was doing the kicking that day," he said. "I saw the back coming in real fast. When I went around him, it looked like I had a clear field."
The Packers, expecting the punt, had dropped most of their personnel back.
Unlike Jones, whose run was mostly in a straight-line sprint, Moran was zig-zagging all around the field at the Polo Grounds.
"On the way down I passed a couple of guys," Moran said.
He passed at least one of them twice, including his former Pottsville Maroons teammate and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny (Blood) McNally. "I don’t know how I was running. Criss-cross, maybe. But I was running."
Also unlike Jones, Moran did not fall on his own.
"Someone hit me from behind at the 10-yard line and I scrawled ahead," Moran said of how the play ended. He went down inside the 5.
The one thing the two long but fruitless runs did have in common was that they each did lead to touchdowns… eventually. And both players reacted to those scores with a sign of relief.
"That was the fortunate part," Moran said in his interview regarding the score that came a few plays later.
It was the winning touchdown, too. The Giants went on to a 13-6 victory.
Jones’ run set up the touchdown that gave the Giants a 14-10 lead midway through the third quarter, though they eventually lost the game.
Besides his rushing exploit, Moran also at one time held the NFL record for receiving yards in a game with 114 against the Eagles in 1933, and he led the Giants in scoring in 1931 with 35 points (four touchdowns, eight extra points, and a field goal).
Moran passed away on Dec. 30, 1994, at age 93, still in possession of the longest run – and the longest-standing franchise record – in team history. Barber broke it about a year after Moran’s death.
But Moran still holds the title for longest run by a Giant without scoring a touchdown. At 91 yards – unlike Jones himself -- it may stand forever.