Giants starting to dream about making playoff run
The Giants enter their bye week on a rare high this season — winners of two straight — following an 0-6 start. But they realize there’s still a long ways to go if they want to contend for the NFC East crown.
“We haven’t done nothing yet,” said cornerback Terrell Thomas, who was awarded a game ball for his 10 tackles, including a sack and forced fumble.
“It feels great to have two wins. The smiles around here, everybody is confident and this team has the makeup to make a run like this,” Thomas said. “We’ve been in a position like this before and we’re better when our backs are against the wall. It’s a good time for us to relax and get football off our mind [but] then we need to come back refreshed and ready to go.”
The Giants (2-6) are actually only two games out of first place, but they merely laid the foundation of a comeback.
“First, it’s nice to win. Thank God,” said Coughlin. “We’re excited about having an opportunity to improve on certain areas [because] if we were going to have any chance to make a run, we had to put ourselves in position here … but we’re certainly not blind to the issues that we have.”
The past two games have showed few issues to attend, as the Giants have played efficient football on both sides. A defense that was once among the league’s dregs has rebounded nicely, as it hasn’t yielded a touchdown by an opposing offense in 10 consecutive quarters — the team’s longest such streak since a 15-quarter stretch from Oct. 23 to Nov. 20, 2005.
The defense has not surrendered a touchdown in 158:24 of total game action. And the Giants’ once-vaunted pass rush is beginning to show signs of life, as Big Blue sacked Eagles quarterbacks 4 1/2 times on Sunday to finally break a tie with the lowly Jaguars for fewest sacks in the league.
Now that they finally get to catch their collective breath, many of the Giants’ star defenders feel there’s more positive results to come since they weathered the early storm and have gained confidence with each passing performance.
“It’s been a rough eight weeks. It’s been extremely rough,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “But in the last couple of weeks I think we formed our identity as a team. We’re heading in the right direction. Yeah, there’s a lot of room left for us to grow, a lot of room for us to get a whole lot better. But right now were just taking it one game at a time. … Right now we should all just try to get away from the game, get guys back healthy so everyone can contribute to winning.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck backed up Rolle.
“Whatever he says, I guarantee there are 52 other guys in this locker room going to damn sure step up and try to back him up,” said Tuck, adding he has full confidence in his team catching the division-leading Cowboys (4-4). “We do feel like we’ve dodged some bullets. And we’ve given ourselves a shot … but we’re also aware that it’s still a long road to get to where we need to get.”
Big Blue notes …
» Manning surpassed yet another of Phil Simms’s franchise records on Sunday — career passing yards. Manning’s second completion allowed him to jump ahead of Simms’s total of 33,462 yards. He now has 33,694 passing yards. The two-time Super Bowl MVP is also the franchise’s all-time leader in attempts, completions and touchdown passes.
» The Giants have 13 takeaways this season, but only have one touchdown and five field goals to show for it.
» As the waning moments of the opening quarter ticked away, the Giants had a huge advantage in total yards: 111-2. Big Blue ultimately held a 116-16 advantage to cap the first quarter.
» The Giants snapped an eight-game road losing streak dating back to last season — and their longest as visitors since the 1978-’79 campaign. Sunday’s win was their first road victory since a 29-24 victory in Dallas on Oct. 28, 2012.
» Josh Brown’s five field goals accounted for all of the Giants’ scoring. This is the Giants’ first victory in which they did not score a touchdown since Sept. 22, 2002, when three Matt Bryant field goals enabled them to beat Seattle, 9-6.
» Philadelphia’s offense was shut out, as its only score was a 2-yard fumble recovery by Najee Goode, who scooped up a high snap by Zack DeOssie that sailed over punter Steve Weatherford’s head and stepped into the end zone with 4:11 remaining in the game.
» The Giants did not allow a point in the first half for the first time since Jan. 1, 2012, when they opened up a 21-0 lead on over the Cowboys in the 2011 season finale.
» The Giants shut out their opponent over the first three quarters for the first time since leading 41-0 over the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 7, 2010.
» The Giants’ 2-6 record at midseason is their worst since they were 1-7 in 1980. The Giants were 2-6 after eight games in 1987, but that was a strike-gutted 15-game season. They were 2-5-1 in 1983.
» Safety Will Hill recorded his first career interception when he picked off Matt Barkley with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
» Running back Andre Brown (leg), who noted he’ll likely wear a shin guard “for the rest of my career,” said he expects to play against the Raiders in two weeks and is actually looking forward to feeling sore after some game action.
“I’m getting ready for when they unleash me. … I might need a little blow, but I would love to feel a little soreness right now,” Brown said.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.