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Now or never for fast-fading Giants

Back in early September, the Week 9 matchup of the Giants andChargers was thought to be a preview of a possible Super Bowl. Now thatit is Week 9, it actually is something of a title game for the slumpingGiants.<p />

Back in early September, the Week 9 matchup of the Giants and Chargers was thought to be a preview of a possible Super Bowl. Now that it is Week 9, it actually is something of a title game for the slumping Giants.

“This is our Super Bowl,” linebacker Antonio Pierce said yesterday.

With a bye in Week 10, coach Tom Coughlin is treating this game as a “one-game season.” Antennae are up in the locker room, as the Giants search for a way to end this three-game slide.

“It’s must-win,” said corner Kevin Dockery. “In basketball and baseball you can lose four in a row but in football you can’t because that’s a quarter of the season.”

The Giants were waxed for 92 points in their last three games. At 5-3, they have dropped from first to third in the ultracompetitive NFC East.

“Leaders are lifters,” said Coughlin. “Your best players need to lead the way.”

Translation:?Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Antonio Pierce better bring it Sunday against Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ fifth-ranked passing offense. The Giants have given up 12 passing touchdowns — only seven teams have allowed more this season.

The numbers clearly favor Rivers, who has thrown for eight touchdowns and posted a passer rating of 105.4 the last four games.

The Giants have 60 minutes on Sunday to shut him down. They’ll spend the days leading up until then shutting the rest of the world out.

“I’ve told them to not be so sensitive to outside criticism,” Coughlin said. “We’ve got a lot of room for improvement and we will emphasize fundamentals and [tackling] angles.”

 
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