Antrel Rolle Antrel Rolle, right, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie combine for a tackle of Julio Jones.
Credit: Getty Images

The Giants heard all of the criticism during their 0-2 start to the season. But the players didn’t buy into the fatalism.

“I never doubt,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “We always expected to be [over .500]. I never really imagined that we’d be fighting just to get over .500, to be honest with you. But we expected to be [in the division hunt]. We’re just trying to win every game and keep building from this point.”

Rolle scoffed when asked whether the matchup this Sunday with the Eagles is a statement game.


“Every game for us is a statement game. This game is just bigger because it’s a divisional game against a good football team,” Rolle said. “They’re playing very well right now, so as far as a statement game, every game for us is a must-win.”

The Giants treated Sunday’s second half against the Falcons (2-3) as a must-win, countering a sluggish opening two quarters where they fell behind 13-10 with a second-half flurry that included 20 unanswered points.

Whether their confidence was shaken early in the season is up for debate, but it isn’t debatable how important the next two weeks are. The Giants play division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas back to back.

“They’re all important, obviously [and] that was a good win [over Atlanta],” said quarterback Eli Manning. “Now, at 3-2, you want to keep things going, hopefully keep on pace and try to catch up with Dallas and Philly. They’re both 4-1, so they’re huge.”

The Giants had only three penalties on Sunday, which proved to Manning that major strides in focus and execution are being made. Their season-opening shellacking is far in the team’s rearview mirror.

“We just need to continue to keep playing smart football, can’t turn the ball over [and play] mistake-free football,” said Manning. “The way we’re running the ball will help. And when we throw, get the ball out quickly, find completions and get it to our playmakers. We’ll have a great gameplan. We just need to go out there and execute.”

Rolle had a hint of glee in the fact the Giants have made the preseason prognosticators eat their words.

“We didn’t get a lot of credit this preseason in our division. It seemed like everybody had picked everyone but us,” said Rolle. “But now I think the table is starting to turn a little bit in our division.”

Big Blue notes ...

»Running back Rashad Jennings has a sprained MCL and is out indefinitely. The once little-known understudy in Oakland and Jacksonville has carried the ball 91 times, which is already roughly 56 percent of his single-season career-high tally of 163.

But the good news is Jennings will not need surgery.

“I just looked at [the doctor] and said, ‘Look, surgery or no surgery? No surgery? See you later,’” Jennings said.

»Linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who injured his hamstring in the third quarter and never returned, underwent tests late Monday.

»Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will also undergo tests for his injured left ankle and hip.

»The Giants are reportedly set to release wideout/kick returner Trindon Holliday from injured reserve via an injury settlement.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.

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