Their resistance to passes has been sensational — the frustration of the Packers and the ruination of the Redskins.
So it has gone for the Giants, whose defense in general and secondary in particular have carried them into the playoffs, starting Sunday against the Packers.
But the words above were not originally written about the 2016 Giants, who held the Packers to two touchdowns and Aaron Rodgers to a season-worst passer rating in a 23-16 loss to Green Bay in October, then eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention, 19-10, last Sunday.
It was how The New York Times described the Giants in 1938 in advance of their first postseason game against the Packers, another elite defense vs. elite offense showdown that ended in a 23-17 victory for the Giants at the Polo Grounds.
Which is a long way of getting around to Sunday’s theme: That there is nothing new under the sun — or above the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
And speaking of Lambeau — and of how nothing changes when it comes to eternal questions such as what the NFL considers a catch . . .
After that loss on Dec. 11, 1938, Packers coach Curly Lambeau ripped linesman Larry Conover over two controversial decisions, including a second-quarter pass from Tuffy Leemans to Len Barnum that led to a Giants touchdown.
“I don’t want to say this in the form of an alibi, but . . . ,” Lambeau began, before saying it in the form of an alibi.
“Moving pictures of the play will prove that Barnum fumbled immediately, the ball rolling out of bounds, and that the runner did not hold it long enough to establish possession.”
He added, “It just isn’t fair for us to lose a game on account of incompetent officiating. That’s my sincere opinion.”
Too late, Curly. Moving pictures moved a little too slowly then for replay review, and Barnum’s “catch” officially is in the books.
The big win against the Packers (for which every Giant earned a bonus of $504) was the highlight of the first of three eras in Packers-Giants playoff lore — three early games, two in the middle and now three this century under the Eli Manning regime.
The Packers bounced back in ’39 to rout the Giants, 27-0, at Wisconsin State Fair Park in suburban Milwaukee, and won it all again in 1944 at the Polo Grounds, 14-7.
The teams did not meet again until 1961, when former Giants assistant Vince Lombardi won his first NFL title as a head coach, 37-0, at City Stadium — which had not yet been renamed for Lambeau.
The more memorable meeting came in a rematch in 1962, a 16-7 Packers victory at Yankee Stadium that everyone who was there recalls as one of the coldest days of their lives. The temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees, with winds up to 40 miles per hour.
Harry Larson, a fan, attended with his fiancée, Ulla, a Swede attending her first American football game.
“She grew up skiing in the north of Sweden,” Larson told Newsday in a 2012 article looking back at that game. “By halftime, she was crying. She wanted to go home.”
That day foreshadowed a rematch that would be 45 years in the making, when the teams met at Lambeau for the NFC championship after the 2007 season, a day that lives in cold-weather infamy even more so than the ’62 game.
The Giants won, 23-20, in overtime — on a night when the temperature at kickoff was zero and fell from there, with a wind chill in the minus-20s — and advanced to the Super Bowl, where they upset the unbeaten Patriots.
Mike Sullivan, then the wide receivers coach and now the offensive coordinator, recalled this past week that he left the hotel that morning in Green Bay for a cup of coffee. Without a hat. That was a mistake.
“About 15 feet out, I didn’t know if I was going to laugh, cry or throw up, pass out or whatever,” he said.
Four years later, the Giants returned to Lambeau, beat the 15-1 Packers, 37-20, on a less-cold day in the divisional round and went on to win the Super Bowl again.
It has been quite a playoff ride for the two venerable franchises, sporadic as it has been. But it could have been even better.
In 1927, the year the Giants won their first championship, the Packers finished in second place, but there were no playoffs then.
That 1938 team was the late co-owner Wellington Mara’s favorite of all, because he was 22 and the players were contemporaries and friends.
When Newsday asked Mara in 1996 to list his favorite games from the 1,000 the Giants had played in the regular season to that point, he named two from ’38 — the win over the Packers and a 36-0 rout of the Redskins the previous week that avenged a bitter, season-ending loss in 1937.
Ed Danowski, who threw two touchdown passes in the ’38 final, was a Fordham alum, like Mara, and played at Riverhead High School. He is the only Giants quarterback other than Manning to win two NFL championships.
Danowski’s son John, now the lacrosse coach at Duke, recalled a family newspaper scrapbook from those seasons. He said Christmas cards would arrive when he was a child from stars of the 1930s teams such as Leemans, Mel Hein and Hank Soar.
The Packers’ offensive and defensive lines in ’38 averaged a whopping 217 pounds, prompting the Times to call them the “mastodons from Wisconsin.”
There had not been as much anticipation for pro football in New York since the Giants’ inaugural season of 1925, when Red Grange and the Bears drew more than 70,000 to the Polo Grounds, a game pivotal to the acceptance of pro football here.
By 1938, the sport had become big news in the big city, and the finale produced a nasty, contentious game played before a then-playoff-record 48,120 spectators. They saw the Giants become the first team in the NFL’s playoff era to win two championships.
Despite the intensity of the action, the Packers reported no serious injuries. “The only thing hurt,” Lambeau said later, “was our feelings.”