Giants' big week: Winless to in this after two victories in six days

Antrel Rolle (26) celebrates with teammates Will Hill Antrel Rolle (26) celebrates with teammates Will Hill (25) and Terrell Thomas (24) after intercepting a pass during the first half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Oct. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants were enjoying their second straight win, which was enough to spark a celebration on its own merits. But amid the icing and dressing and packing for the trip home came a cheer from a corner of the visiting locker room at Lincoln Financial Field.

There, gathered around a small television mounted on the wall, a contingent of players, coaches and team executives acted like the biggest Lions fans in the country while watching their team -- their other team -- beat the Cowboys.

Word quickly spread. The Giants, on the strength of their 15-7 win over the Eagles and that Dallas loss in Detroit Sunday, will head into their bye week just two games out of first place in the NFC East.

Sure, they are 2-6. Yes, they didn't score a touchdown. Certainly, their two wins have come against largely ill-prepared quarterbacks and teams with losing records. But the Giants have something that most people didn't think they had a little more than a week ago, when they still were a winless team riding the franchise's worst start in nearly 40 years.

They have a pulse.

"We still believe," Eli Manning said after the Giants won for the second time in seven days.

It's almost as if the first month and a half of the 2013 season didn't happen, and that's exactly how some players are looking at it.

"We're 2-0 right now," Jason Pierre-Paul said. "All the other games we put behind us, and we just have to keep winning one by one. That's how it starts."

The Giants were only too happy to have the Cowboys' 31-30 loss punctuate the end of the first half of their season.

"We need all the help we can get," cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "We got a little luck with our division losing a couple of games. I don't know what you want to call it. The NFC East is always wild, always comes down to the last game. Hopefully, it does, and we're in that game to decide our future."

The Giants didn't seem to have much of a future when they lost in Chicago on Oct. 10. But in the last 10 quarters -- since halftime of that loss to the Bears -- the defense has not allowed a touchdown. In the last two games, the Giants haven't allowed an offensive point.

The only touchdown the Eagles scored came in the fourth quarter when long-snapper Zak DeOssie sailed the ball over punter Steve Weatherford's head and Najee Goode picked it up and fell 2 yards into the end zone. That made it 15-7 -- a one-possession game -- with 4:11 left. But a well-executed punt and an interception by Will Hill off rookie Matt Barkley (playing in place of injured Michael Vick, who left the game in the second quarter) sealed the win.

"It's not always pretty, but nevertheless, our defense played superbly," coach Tom Coughlin said.

And it left the Giants poised to, perhaps, make a run at the division title in the second half of the season. "That's what we're trying to do," Coughlin said. "We're trying to get back into the competitive aspect of our games and our division."

The Giants still are in last place in the division, a game behind the Eagles (3-5) and a half-game behind the Redskins (2-5). But of all the last-place teams in the NFL, they are the closest to the top, two games behind the Cowboys (4-4).

"It's crazy," Victor Cruz said. "The NFC East is always a dogfight at the end. No matter how you look at it, how you shape it up, when it comes December, you're always going to be one game out or something like that. So we'll see."

The defense dominated the Eagles on the back of four sacks and three takeaways, allowing only 201 yards, but the Giants' offense was unable to find the end zone. Josh Brown kicked five field goals, tying his career high for a single game. He had a long of 46.

Coughlin said he was frustrated by the lack of touchdowns, but his happiness about the win helped soothe that. "I tell them every year, I'll take it 2-0, 3-0, 5-3, whatever you want to do," he said.

"Sometimes it don't come the way you want it to, but a win is a win," Hakeem Nicks said. "Everything just fell our way in the game. As far as the season, I think we just have to keep pushing and taking it one week at a time and everything will eventually fall into place."

Just as it did Sunday in Philadelphia.

And in Detroit.