The Giants want to make it clear. Yes, this is a rematch, but it’s not about revenge.
Following Sunday’s 24-2 demolition of the Falcons, the Giants immediately got back to work.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning said their 38-35 home loss to the Packers in Week 13 doesn’t need avenging. But it was a great measuring stick to show Big Blue can play with the league’s elite.
“I don’t think about it like [revenge]. I think, ‘Hey, we have a great shot.’ We’re playing in the playoffs. We’re playing a good team and just have fun with that opportunity and go out there and play our best football,” said Manning. “We thought we played a good game. We played them tough. We know they’re a good team, but obviously we have another shot. … We played with a team who’s been playing better football than anybody all year. We played right with them to the end.”
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Lambeau Field, coincidentally, was the scene of Big Blue’s classic penultimate game in their magical 2007 playoffs run. This season the Packers were hands-down the best team in the league, going 15-1, and are led by the league’s likely Most Valuable Player in quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Manning said all the subplots make for an epic afternoon and is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think anytime you’re in the playoffs [and] you’re playing a team who’s had a great season and playing in Lambeau Field [with] the cold conditions, it should be a great environment,” Manning said. “We should have a great week of practice and preparation and go out there and play our best.”
The collective confidence level of the team is at a season-high, according to Manning. The offense has been spectacular for most of the year so that hasn’t been a surprise. But what has been a revelation is the defense, which has been ravaged by injuries since training camp and maligned all season due to its inconsistent play. The unit has really stepped up its effort dating back to its Christmas Eve matchup against the neighboring Jets. During this three-game winning streak, the Giants have yielded just 10 points per game.
Defensive end Justin Tuck acknowledged that bouncing the team that culminated Big Blue’s four-game skid at the time is just a priceless backdrop.
“Yeah, I think we did [want the rematch], but more than anything we just wanted the opportunity to keep playing, regardless of who we were going to face. It just happens to be the Green Bay Packers,” Tuck said. “I think every time you come out of a game like that [Week 13] you think about the opportunities missed. But [the loss] happened for a reason. Hopefully it happened for us as a testament of redemption. That’s something that’s going to be on our minds. … It’s going to be an emotional football game for both teams and I think it’s going to be a good football game.”
Big Blue notes
» Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul guaranteed a win over the Packers but Tuck said what else was he going to say? Naturally, the veteran end said he has Pierre-Paul’s back, but won’t climb on that ledge: “Knowing you guys [media], you probably asked him a loaded question and he just gave his honest opinion about it. … I won’t [guarantee] but I will guarantee we’ll play hard.”
Tuck also said he uses the Packers’ lone loss as inspiration: “I learned that any given Sunday you have the opportunity to beat every team in this league, regardless of who you are. I’m sure no one expected Kansas City to beat the Packers, but they did. Any given Sunday you have that opportunity to beat a team like this. We’re looking forward to this Sunday [because] we know what it takes to go up there and win.”
»Manning said he’s not into parallels and added he won’t be giving a fire-and-brimstone speech about the 2007 upset: “I don’t think it is,” he said about making a correlation between then and now. “We have a lot of guys who have never been out there. We just have to know it’s about our performance. It’s about our preparation and going in there, taking our preparation to the field on Sunday and playing our best ball.”
»Cornerback Aaron Ross will have to go through all the concussion baseline tests this week before he can be deemed ready to play on Sunday.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.