Who would have imagined Giants' epic comeback?
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
We don't know where this season will end up for the Giants, whether they'll continue to ride the momentum of a winning streak that has swelled to three since their 0-6 start, or if they will go quietly into the night.
What we do know is that the Giants' transformation after such a brutal start is a testament to their unwillingness to pack it in when it appeared all hope was lost.
No team in NFL history has gone on to the playoffs after starting the season 0-6, but the Giants' blind faith that anything is possible has carried them to a point that they potentially are only one win away from playing for first place in the NFC East against the Cowboys next Sunday.
The locker room never cracked, even though it would have been understandable -- even expected -- in light of the circumstances. A team that had won the Super Bowl less than two years ago going 0-for-September and most of October? Who could have blamed them for packing it in? But that's not what this team is, as we've come to find out.
"That's just the character in this locker room," cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "When we were 0-3, we didn't turn on each other. At 0-5, 0-6, same thing. We were going to ride this thing out because this team has won the Super Bowl together, won plenty of games. This franchise is about tradition."
It also is about a coach who refuses to give up, no matter the circumstances.
Tom Coughlin kept his team's collective chin up one dispiriting loss after the next. His message was no different at 0-6 than it was at the start of the season.
"I try to make them understand that the support is there, we believe in them, they believe in each other, and that we can certainly do better than we did," Coughlin said in the hallway of the Giants' training facility after Thursday's practice. "When you're 0-6, you certainly can do better than we've been playing. The message was if we keep working together, we'll get things rolling, and that's what has happened."
Three straight wins, and the Giants get the battered Packers at home Sunday. Green Bay is without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and backup Seneca Wallace, both of whom are hurt. The Packers are down to former practice-squad quarterback Scott Tolzien, and only a Giant letdown stands in the way of a fourth straight win and a meaningful game next week against the 5-5 Cowboys.
At 0-6, could anyone have imagined this?
"We have good people in that locker room," he said. "There are those leaders, those captains who take their job very seriously. They've done a nice job."
But more than that, there is a coach who demands that his players keep hope alive regardless of the circumstances. His will to win seeps through the entire locker room.
"It's how we're bred," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "You're never out of it, and at 0-6, we were two or three games out of the lead. I can remember Washington last year after Week 10, they were two games out ."
"We've had years where we ran away with the division and had years where we've had it and lost it and we've had years where we had to fight back to get it. You're never out of it until you're out of it."
Coughlin has been at 3-6 before and gone on to make the playoffs. In his second season with the expansion Jaguars, Coughlin got them to 9-7 and they went to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Patriots. His message then is what it is now.
"I remember doing exactly what we're talking about today," he said. "Fighting, day in and day out, keep the good fight, work hard and good things will happen. Stay together as a team. If you're blessed without some serious injuries, obviously you have a better chance."
"Just be strong in the face of all the adversity and try to make the players understand that adversity does make you stronger. The next game could be the opportunity that we've been looking forward to get the thing righted."
So far, the Giants have won all their "next games" after the epic meltdown at the start. Three wins and counting, and there still is a chance.
"Quitting is not in our nature," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "We're not that kind of a group. We're a hard-nosed group that understands that sometimes you have to fall down and get back up to see exactly what you're made of. I think we dug ourselves a hole, but we were always determined to get out of it."
Tuck has seen incredible things happen before, even when it seemed unlikely. The kind of "unlikely'' that turned into championships.
"Time will tell , but we're never going to doubt it, because we've had some miraculous things happen around here," Tuck said. "I've got two Super Bowl rings to prove that."
No one is talking Super Bowl about this team, nor should anyone. But at least we're looking at a team with a chance, something that looked downright impossible just a month ago.