The Giants got back to work on Monday after enjoying their bye week. And while they’re still in sole possession of first place in the NFC East, their week-long hiatus also featured a closing of the gap to one game with six arduous matchups remaining.
“Everyone knows about this vaunted six-game schedule,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “But honestly, I think that puts us in a great light, [and] a great position, because we don’t have any room for error. We play back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back great teams and I think this team will be up for them.”
Like the homestretch last season, the Giants (6-4) still control their own destiny, no matter what the Cowboys (5-5) do. Win out, and the Giants repeat as NFC East champions.
“That’s the way we like it,” wideout Hakeem Nicks said when reminded of last season’s similar scenario where the Giants controlled their own destiny. “We don’t want to have to depend on anybody for anything, so we’ve just got to go out there and take it one week at a time and prepare well and play well.”
The NFL standings can change quite frequently, according to guard Chris Snee — especially when the Giants had what seemed like a cushy lead in the division. But as the Giants themselves try to rebound from a two-game slide, they now find themselves in the thick of a playoff race. Luckily for them, they’ve been here before, and know the type of perseverance it takes to withstand the pressure.
Head coach Tom Coughlin joked that his emotions ran the gauntlet on Sunday, as he watched a resurgent Redskins (4-6) squad dismantle the Eagles (3-7), and the hapless Browns (2-8) snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the Cowboys.
The Browns blew a 13-0 halftime lead, and a 20-17 lead after scoring a touchdown with just over a minute remaining in regulation, before falling in overtime.
Coughlin said it’s a coach’s mentality to never think a lead is safe, so when the Browns scored late, he still wasn’t confident the woeful team did the Giants any favors just yet.
“I watched a lot of football yesterday, [and] I got excited, got upset, got excited, got all the emotions in play,” said Coughlin. “We were excited to be back on the field and seeing all of our guys again. They’re well rested and ready to go.”
“It’s crazy how quickly things are flying by and how things can change quickly,” Snee said. “We went from being comfortably in the lead to being back in a position where we’re going to have to fight. [But] we’re ready to fight.”
Big Blue notes
»Quarterback Eli Manning shrugged off the pre-bye talk that his arm was tired heading into the break, saying he didn’t think there was “anything to it.” He said he “feels the same” following his time off, but acknowledged that “it’s always good to get a little break and refresh the mind and body.”
»Nicks said his surgically-repaired foot and ailing knee feel better, adding he feels his “burst” is almost back.
»Linebacker Keith Rivers was in an auto accident in California during the bye week. Coughlin said Rivers bruised his knee and was being evaluated on Monday: “We hope that’s all it is. He’s being looked at.”
»Safety Kenny Phillips missed the last six games with a knee injury, but was able to practice on Monday. Phillips, who was shocked that he was left off the active gameday roster the last two games, said he feels “better about [playing] this week.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.