Excerpt: "Maybe they were being truthful when they claimed no pregame knowledge of the football dramatics that preceded them.
Maybe the groups of Giants players taking the field for their late afternoon game against the Saints truly were unaware of what the Cowboys and Redskins had done only moments before, scoring dramatic come-from-behind victories.
Maybe the Giants really meant it when they swore they are done with scoreboard-watching now, focused instead on finding their own level of consistency across this season’s last stand, rendering the outcomes of Sunday’s early games useless to them anyway.
Maybe they really didn’t know what was going on with the Redskins, who emerged from a heart-swallowing injury to quarterback Robert Griffin III to upend the Ravens in overtime, or with the Cowboys, who capped a heartbreaking weekend that included the death of one teammate and arrest of another with a last-second win over the Bengals. The two games completely changed the complexion of the Giants’ late-afternoon challenge — gone in an instant was the potential for a two-game division lead with three games to go; in its place the potential for a three-way tie with three games to play.
Maybe the Giants really didn’t know how much the ante had been raised, but the rest of the football world surely did.
And what that world saw in response was another classic entry in the Giants’ signature playbook of backs-against-the-wall football, where the stakes have to be the highest for this team to play its best. Sunday, it was the vision of those two pesky division rivals closing in from behind that brought out the fight in this inconsistent team, and it was a resounding 52-27 pummeling of the Saints that kept the Giants atop their precarious NFC East perch.
“I would hope we play best all the time but it’s not the case,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We have traditionally done a decent job in certain years when we had no margin for error and our backs were to the wall. If that’s the case, let’s keep our backs to the wall.”
With three to go, a one-game lead and a brutal schedule, these Giants can be certain they aren’t getting breathing room anytime soon. They are back where they are most comfortable, fending off doubters and fighting off complacency as they search for the late-season surge that marked last year’s memorable run to a championship. They are back where they have been before, heeding the warning words of an angry teammate to get nastier, building momentum toward a desired postseason run.
“Honestly this is our playoffs, these are playoff-type games,” veteran defensive end Justin Tuck said. “The teams we’re going to play, the atmosphere we’re going to play in, this is what it’s about. December football, leading into the playoffs, that’s where we’ve kind of made hay the last couple years. And we need to continue to do that.” Read more...