Monday, November 16, 2009

Back To Work

Eli Manning and Justin Tuck hit the locker room about 8:30 a.m. today, about the same time as the rest of their teammates. And by both their accounts, the 5-4 Giants have come back refreshed, and maybe a little healthier, to start this final seven-game stretch against Atlanta come Sunday.

Best of all, the rest of the division has come back to them as both Dallas and Philadelphia lost yesterday, and their playoff hopes remain as strong as before.

"We felt that way all along. We knew we weren't in an awful situation," Manning said after returning from a mini-vacation to his alma mater, Ole Miss, and a Sunday of NFL Ticket on Direct TV. "It's not exactly where we wanted to be, but there's still a lot of season left. If we get hot again and start winning some games, we could be very much in the playoff hunt. We just gotta have that mindset. All we can worry about this week is going out there, playing Atlanta, and getting a win."

Defensive end Justin Tuck used the long weekend to rest his injured left shoulder and admittedly wounded psyche. For much of it, he sat in a tree stand, hoping in vain that an attractive white-tailed deer would wander into his gunsight.

That didn't happen. But those hours in his peaceful mountain forest offered a respite from the pressures of a four-game losing streak. Tuck said he came back refreshed mentally and improved physically, though the shoulder is not ready to lose the movement-limiting harness yet.

He's ready to face Atlanta.

"We've got to hold serve at home," Tuck said. "Our fans are gonna be pumped up for this, and we've got to match the intensity Atlanta's going to bring. If we can do that, I think things'll start working out for themselves."

As things stand now, the Giants are right there in the wildcard hunt with
Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Atlanta. The Giants and Eagles are tied for second in the NFC East, a game behind 6-3 Dallas.

They took the field this morning for a short practice, just something to get the cobwebs out before they start preparing in earnest for Atlanta.
Manning said it was a lively gathering that was actually buoyed by their latest, close loss to San Diego, a game they should have won.

"I've seen enough of our confidence in the way we put ourselves in position to win the game against San Diego," Manning said. "We can play at a high level and win games. That's what I know.

"And I know in the NFL, you're never out of anything, especially after nine games. There's still a lot of football left. Teams can turn things around. Teams get hot at the end of the season. We know we've got to start playing better football, and we're capable of doing that."

Tuck said the 17-7 Dallas loss made a big impression on him.

"It just shows you how tough the NFL is," Tuck said. "If you'd told me Dallas wouldn't have scored a touchdown until the last seconds when the game's out of reach, or Philadelphia wouldn't handle the Chargers...that's why you play the game.

"But we can't worry about what other people do. We've got to go out and win games for ourselves."

Tuck said the self-scouting of the bye week should help with that, especially in the inconsistent pass rush.

"We kind of proved ourselves wrong," Tuck said. "We felt we had gotten a lot of pressure on quarterbacks, but somehow or another, they still completed some passes. So that's definitely a focal point for us. Coach (Mike) Wauffle says we need to stop hitting the triple and start hitting home runs."

If that happens, it will make things easier for an offense that has turned just as inconsistent as the defense. His brother's incredible comeback victory over the Patriots last night proved again to Manning that with a little execution, anything is possible.

"It just shows what can happen if you keep fighting and put yourself in a situation where you can win in the fourth quarter," Manning said. "The Colts did, and found a way to win."

The Giants will have to do that if they expect to overcome an additional factor Sunday. They historically do not play well after the bye, having gone 5-15 since it was instituted in 1992. They did win last year, however, beating Seattle 44-6.

"We've got to go out and win games," Manning said. "We've got to play Philly and the Cowboys again. But really, we've got to focus on Atlanta this week and see if we can get back on a winning streak."



  1. The coaches REALLY need to take a hard look at how successful the Panthers were using the no-huddle. They scored 2 TDs with it and the Giants would be wise to follow suit.

    We heard a lot of talk about how they were going to use it more often in games and we have yet to see it.

  2. OK how does somebody with the means of a star NFL player not come home with a white tail.