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Pats' Past: Welcome to... Yale? or When New England Faced New York in Connecticut

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Tomorrow, the Patriots travel to East Rutherford to visit the New York Giants. It wasn't quite like this in 1974.

From California to New England to California: Jim Plunkett.
From California to New England to California: Jim Plunkett.
boston.sportsthenandnow.com

The New England Patriots and the New York Giants, two of the most successful franchises in NFL history, have only played each other 11 times. The first game of the series was played in Boston – a game the Patriots lost 16-0 – in 1970. Four years later, New York hosted its first home game against New England... in Connecticut.

How come?

From 1956 until 1973, the Giants used to call New York's Yankee Stadium their home. However, the team had to temporarily move out after the first two weeks of the '73 season due to the beginning stadium renovations. For the next two seasons, they would therefore play their home games 60 miles to the northeast, at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

One such game took place in week two of the 1974 season, when the New England Patriots, for only the second time in franchise history, took on the New York Giants. While the "home" team had lost its season opener, the Patriots had won theirs and entered the game with a 1-0 record.

However, it was the 0-1 Giants that scored first and went ahead 7-0. New England answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jim Plunkett to running back Mack Herron. After the Giants scored another touchdown in the second quarter, Plunkett again found the endzone. This time, he connected with wide receiver Randy Vataha from 38 yards out and the two teams headed into the locker room tied at 14.

In the third quarter, New England took its first lead of the game, when Plunkett threw his third touchdown pass of the afternoon. This time, it was a 14-yarder and running back – and future Patriots Hall of Famer – Sam Cunningham was the recipient. The team would widen the gap in the fourth quarter, when Mack Herron scored his second touchdown of the day. His 4-yard scoring run gave the Patriots a 28-14 lead. The Giants were only able to score one more time and the Patriots left New Haven with a 28-20 win in their pocket.

The 1974 Patriots would go on to win their next three games as well, to start the season 5-0. However, injuries would later take their toll on the team and New England would eventually finish the year with a 7-7 record. The Giants, in the meantime, would win only two games in 1974 and leave New Haven after the season. The team lost 11 of 12 games in Connecticut before moving back to New York.

Tomorrow, the Patriots will visit the city and – given the two teams' recent history – would certainly be happy if the upcoming game had the same end result as the one played in September 1974: a New England win.