Wideout Victor Cruz was among the many Giants still marveling yesterday at how well the team played in Sunday’s rout of New Orleans.
But he doesn’t feel Sunday’s win was a “statement game.” Rather, he allowed it was just good to win considering the road ahead.
“We just won a ballgame against a team that beat us up pretty good the last couple times and we got a much-needed victory,” Cruz said. “I think that’s the biggest key. We just want to be able to be prepared and bring this same kind of intensity next week in Atlanta.”
This seems about the right time of year when the Giants begin to lock in on a playoff berth, so Sunday’s performance may not have come as such a surprise.
But for head coach Tom Coughlin, he’d rather the team’s focus be a weekly occurrence and not only when the team is desperate.
“I don’t know [how to explain it]. I would hope we would play our best all the time, but that’s not the case. 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,” Coughlin said. “We have good character, [a] good group of people [and a] high desire factor. But that’s what we’ve talked about week in and week out — establishing consistency.
The message going into the Atlanta game is simple, insists Coughlin. The team will need to take that same focus and intensity on the road and apply it in a difficult environment, especially with two rivals nipping at their heels.
“It’ll be the same message, over, and over and over, [because] we have a very difficult opponent coming up this week,” Coughlin said. “It’s about maintaining this one-game lead, understanding the difficulty of our schedule, but understanding also you can’t get where we want to go without playing the best and having a chance to beat the best.”
The win enabled the Giants (8-5) to get one step closer to edging out the Cowboys (7-6) and Redskins (7-6) in the NFC East race, as both won on Sunday on the final play of their respective games. Had New York limped into Atlanta on a two-game skid and tied atop the division, having to face the Falcons, there would be added pressure.
The pressure will still be there on Sunday, but if Big Blue continues to rally from within, they feel they’ll have a great shot going forward.
“We’ve played pretty well, together-type football,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “And with [losses to] Washington, Cincinnati, we didn’t and you saw the results. So I think for us we’ve just got to just take a step back and look at how we can play when we’re together. … We’re all in and that should be encouraging for us going on to these next three, starting with Atlanta.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.