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Healthy or not, Giants remain confident heading into stretch run

The Giants are more concerned with momentum than medication.

The Giants are more concerned with momentum than medication.

There’s a quiet confidence within the locker room, much like in 2007, but the biggest difference is that during their championship run, the roster was relatively healthy and they just got hot at the right time. This current version is banged up. Healthy or not, though, the roster is starting to come together at the right time – maladies or not.

New York [8-4] is riding a two-game winning streak, with a winnable game coming up in Minnesota – a team that’s nowhere near the dominant force it was last season. The Vikings are suffering through a new interim coach, a once-dominant defense that has underachieved, and now a quarterback controversy thanks to the shoulder injury to Brett Favre. All the pieces are aligned for a Giants team that controls its own destiny, which has given everyone in New York’s locker room a reason to be fired up.

Even the usually reserved Ahmad Bradshaw is outwardly optimistic over Big Blue’s potential.

“We’re confident and we have a lot of confidence on both sides of the ball right now,” said Bradshaw, who eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau last week. “Even our special teams is playing great. If we keep the three phases of the ball going good, we’ll be alright.”

What’s been more than alright is the defense over the last six quarters. Ever since the Jacksonville Jaguars notched 17 first-half points on them two weeks ago, the Giants defense has dominated its opponents. The Jaguars were stoned in the second half and the Redskins were embarrassed all game, last week. Riding such a high has made players believe that they’re just scratching the surface and relish the opportunity of testing its wares against Adrian Peterson and whoever lines up under center, Sunday.

“We have the makings of a very, very good team,” insisted linebacker Keith Bulluck. “People have only been seeing flashes all year.”

Cornerback Terrell Thomas agreed, saying he’s proud to declare that “we’re back on track.”

Big Blue has certainly dominated the last six quarters of football but that doesn’t mean they’re totally satisfied. There is still room for improvement, according to defensive tackle Chris Canty, but he added it’s definitely more fun to watch the film after dominant wins.

“Of course when we watch film we are going to see that there are still some areas that need improvement but that’s what good teams do down the stretch,” Canty said. “We’re playing real physical right now and that is the way we want to play.”

Fellow defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul, who has been on a tear these last two weeks, is happy to finally be contributing and earning his first round pick status. Pierre-Paul, who’s recorded back-to-back two-sack games, said the depth of the D-line has helped pass rushers stay fresh and effective, which has boosted confidence that someone will make a play late when needed.

“About two weeks ago, Coach [Coughlin] said I needed to be the star of the game and then I went out and had two sacks,” Pierre-Paul recalled. “After that, I said I was going to keep balling. Whether I’m at D-Tackle or at end, wherever they put me, I’m going to try to make a play.”

Pierre-Paul’s mentor, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, is also just as confident and said when the Giants start each game with aggression it means bad news for the opponent. If they continue to follow the blueprint down the stretch, the wins will continue to tally and will send Big Blue back to the post-season.

“It’s necessary,” Umenyiora said when asked about the importance of imposing their will on opponents going forward. “We don’t need to come out like we did in the first half [versus Jacksonville two weeks ago]. We need to play an overall good game, be physical, and force turnovers in order to win these games.”

 
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