Facing the possibility of yet another painful loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the surprisingly-hot New York Giants managed to extend their recent winning streak to three games last Sunday with a victory over their division rivals thanks to a four-touchdown performance from starting quarterback Eli Manning and a solid defensive effort that’s left Big Blue in a four-way tie for third in the NFC entering Week 10.
Still the only team to defeat the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys [7-1], the Giants broke out to an early lead with a trio of first-half touchdowns that gave Manning and company a 21-10 edge to start the third quarter. And despite scoring only seven points over the final two frames, and losing both wideout Victor Cruz [ankle] and guard Justin Pugh[knee] to injuries, the hosts held on for a 28-23 victory and enter this week’s action as the division’s second-place squad.
After dropping each of their last four games against the hated Eagles, Sunday’s win was an added bonus for the Giants’ re-energized fan-base, and Manning seemed to believe that the victory is evidence of his team’s recent turnaround following the win.
”Definitely a big win in the division,” said Manning via ESPN. ”Philadelphia, the last few years has had our number. We’ve played close games but haven’t been able to win those close games, so to be able to pull it off and get that win was nice.”
With the Minnesota Vikings now losers of three straight following a 5-0 start, and Week 9 losses from both Philadelphia and the 4-4 Green Bay Packers, the 5-3 Giants now find themselves surrounded by unexpected playoff potential and trailing only the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons [6-2] and their division rivals from the Lone Star State.
During the off-season, even the most optimistic projections for the first team of the Bob McAdoo era didn’t have the Giants ahead of the Packers entering Week 10. Sure, a badly-needed return to the playoffs has always been the goal for this team. But Big Blue’s current winning streak has dared some to dream about the possibility of a repeat of New York’s 2011 campaign, which ended with a set of Super Bowl rings despite the fact that the Giants were a mediocre 9-7 and barely better than a pair of 8-8 division rivals during the regular season.
This week, the Giants will continue their three-game homestand with a visit from the under-acheiving Cincinnati Bengals [3-4] on Monday night, before hosting the 2-6 Chicago Bears in Week 11. For the first time since finishing 6-2 at home in 2012, the Giants actually have a winning home record [3-1], and knocking-off both the Bengals and Bears would put them in a much better position heading into a six-week stretch that will see Manning and company play four of their last six games on the road where they’ve posted a decent 2-2 mark thus far.
Realistically, even if injured running back Shane Vereen magically returns sometime this season and Rashad Jennings wakes up from his mid-season slumber, the Giants will only go as far as their upgraded defense and Manning’s passing attack can take them–and their latest win proves that point. Fortunately, with each of its next three opponents currently sitting below the .500 mark, there’s reason to believe that New York can sustain its recent run of success long enough to end the franchise’s four-year playoff drought.
As New York’s former offensive coordinator, McAdoo is no stranger to the dark cloud of doubt and skepticism that’s been hanging over this franchise since the Giants heroically halted the New England Patriots’ dream season with a 21-17 victory over Bill Belichick’s boys to take Super Bowl XLVI in February of 2012. But he also knows that his team can’t move forward until everyone forgets about the past four seasons, and for now, winning has everyone focused on the task at hand.
”Last year is in the rear-view mirror,” said McAdoo via the New York Daily News. ”You go back, you learn from the past and you work on today. We believe that we are going to win these football games. We’ve just got to hang onto leads and win the games. We know we’re going to get better as the game goes on and we’re going to win in the end.”