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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Giants talking a big game: Bring on Pack!

Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates during the NFC Wild Card

Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates during the NFC Wild Card game at MetLife Stadium. (Jan. 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

My, my, aren't the Giants feeling good about themselves now that they've staved off an early offseason with a dramatic late-season surge and their first home playoff victory in more than a decade. Just a few minutes after his team pummeled the Falcons, 24-2, Sunday, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul stood in the middle of the locker room, jumped ahead to next week's game in Green Bay and all but guaranteed a win.

"We know what's at stake here. It's one-and-done, and we're not going to let that happen," he said. "We're going to go out there and give all our effort, and we're going to walk away with the win."

To think it was only a couple of weeks ago that the Giants didn't know if they'd be in the playoffs, much less in a position to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game in January 2008.

You remember that one -- another unlikely shot at beating the Packers on the road, but against Brett Favre. The Giants pulled off the unthinkable in a 23-20 overtime win on the way to an even bigger upset of the unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Can this team possibly pull off another shocker over Aaron Rodgers and the 15-1 Packers? The way these guys have been playing the last month, there's no reason to think they can't at least give the Packers a game.

After all, if the Giants gave the Packers a scare in a 38-35 loss Dec. 4 when their defense was playing some of its worst football of the season, how can you not think the Giants at least have a puncher's chance now? Especially with defensive end Osi Umenyiora back in the lineup after an ankle injury.

Even Tom Coughlin sounded confident after the Giants won for the fourth time in the last five games. "If we can continue to play defense like that,'' he said, "we can make ourselves heard in this tournament."

If you've been around Coughlin for any length of time and seen how he painstakingly avoids beating his chest in public, this is close to a proclamation from him.

It's a measure of just how good the Giants feel about their chances. They were dominant on defense against a Falcons team that came in with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and Julio Jones. Turner had only 41 yards on 15 carries. Ryan passed for only 199 yards and was stopped twice on fourth-and-1 quarterback sneaks.

After a sluggish start, Eli Manning passed for 277 yards and three TDs, and the Giants' running game, which finished last in the NFL during the regular season, gained 172 yards on 31 carries, more than 50 yards better than its previous high this year.

Play great defense. Run the ball effectively. Throw it with authority. That's the way you win football games in January, and that's the formula the Giants have used the last three weeks to make a statement that they're as good as anyone left in the tournament.

Right now, the Giants certainly are capable of beating anyone. And as we've learned so many times in so many different sports, the hot team going into the postseason often is the most dangerous.

Last season's Packers were a wild card but won four straight to capture the Super Bowl. Same with the 2007 Giants. St. Louis got hot late in the 2011 baseball season and rode the wave to a World Series title. And it was Dallas -- not the Dream Team in Miami -- that won the NBA Finals.

Will the Giants be the latest example? Pierre-Paul seems to think so. Asked if he's sure the Giants can beat the Packers, he replied: "We should."

How sure?

"We're sure," he said. "I'll see you guys later."

New York Sports