After last week's 52-49 loss to the Saints, the Giants face the strange dynamic of wanting to show that their offensive outburst was no anomaly but prove that their defensive letdowns were.
It won't be easy to do either as they face the Bucs in Tampa.
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"Each week is going to be different," Eli Manning said. "There are going to be different things that happen that are preventing you from doing well or giving you the opportunities to do well, so we just have to keep playing smart, protect the football and take advantage of our opportunities when we do have the plays there to be made."
While last Sunday's performance was an extreme caricature, it was at least consistent with the way most envisioned this team performing. On paper, at the start of the season, it seemed as if the passing offense would be a strength that would attempt to carry along a defense with holes in it.
"It's definitely eye-opening when we put up that many points and we don't win a game, how much we have to make sure we keep pushing and keep getting better," guard Justin Pugh said. "We needed 49 [points from the offense, which scored 42 Sunday]. Whatever we need, we have to be able to score. That's something we have to keep getting better with, and we will."
Still, the Giants were pleased to see the unit functioning at such a high level. "That's the way you always envision it," Pugh said. "We think we can put up 42 in any given week and I think we've had shades of that, the potential to do that. We were able to do some good things and score some points."
Receiver Rueben Randle said: "It's kind of where we wanted to be, being able to put up those kinds of points week in and week out . . . and we still left some out there. We're going to continue to get better, fix our mistakes and hopefully become more consistent."
Pugh said there were moments in the game when the offense felt completely in sync.
"Two-minute drive [before halftime], no timeouts, we come down and score," he said. "Come right out after halftime and score again. Those are the things you look for in a good offense. I'm proud of the way everyone is battling and Eli is playing unbelievable getting us into great plays. Six touchdowns is insane. So we have to keep working at replicating that and getting better."
If six touchdown passes are insane, seven are unfathomable. Yet that's what Drew Brees had against the Giants' defense.
"I think they will bounce back, I think they will," Tom Coughlin said. "I think that the frame of mind will be the right way. I think we'll bounce back."
The lashing from the Saints left the Giants with what is statistically the worst defense in the NFL, allowing 427.5 yards per game. They also have the worst pass defense (315.4 yards) in the league even though they lead the NFL with nine interceptions.
Those numbers were bad before last week's performance. Now they are not only worse, they are the worst. And now they face No. 1 pick Jameis Winston, running back Doug Martin, who is fourth in the league in rushing yards, and a team that has averaged 28.0 points in its last four games.
"That's not the type of defense we want to play and it's not the type of defense we are," linebacker Mark Herzlich said of the Saints game. "That's really the message we want to send [this week]: 'Hey, that was a fluke.' We're going to come out there and show what the real Giants defense is and has been in the past."
The one thing the diametrically opposed performances didn't produce -- besides a win -- is a fractured locker room.
"The team has done a great job of staying together, especially the offense," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "They stood behind us and rallied us. They said we win as a team and we lose as a team. You haven't seen finger-pointing or heard all of that stuff . . . I feel bad for the offense. They played their tails off and did everything the right way. As a defense, we have to fight harder. But the offense is still behind us and fighting with us."
As opposed to fighting against them.