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Tom Coughlin changed mood of Giants by letting the music play

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the Giants looks

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the Giants looks on before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Goodlett

So what brought about Tom Coughlin's transformation from iron-fisted football coach to D.J. T-Cough?

"When you're in a position we were in, with two losses and the world around our neck, I want to demonstrate always that we're all in it together and we do stick together regardless of the circumstances, good or bad,'' Coughlin said Monday of his seemingly trivial but apparently momentous decision to allow the playing of music at Friday's practice. It led to the overall lightening of the mood during final preparations for Sunday's game against the Texans.

"We are about team, we are about being there for each other, and I want that message to go across very, very strongly. Certainly, some of the veteran members of our team felt strongly the same way. We got our work done, we worked well, but we were able to enjoy it a little bit, particularly with our Friday.''

Besides Coughlin spinning the tunes, the Giants also had a "punt-off'' in which offensive and defensive linemen competed to see who could catch the most footballs off a punting machine.

"It was meant to send a signal to them,'' the 68-year-old coach said, "that I still believed in them and I wanted them to focus on what had to be corrected and accomplished rather than on something else.''

That "something else'' clearly was the importance of the game and the fact that if the Giants slipped to 0-3, their season essentially could be over almost before it even began. Just as it was last year.

"Keeping it positive was very important,'' Coughlin said. "We wanted outstanding work, we wanted guys to relax and show us the kind of football players they really were, to demonstrate their ability to play together as one, to perform with the athleticism that we knew that they had but that we hadn't seen a lot of. Yes, it was important.''

It also worked.

So naturally, we'll see more of this frivolity?

Not quite. With a short week to prepare for Thursday night's game at Washington, there won't be much time for games and music. The Giants will be on a tight schedule and probably won't even be on the field for physical practices much.

"I think we put the win behind us and just moved on,'' tackle Justin Pugh said Monday. "We came in, right in the beginning guys were happy about the win, but we started focusing on Washington right away. I think that is where everyone's attention is now.''

By afternoon, the players already were on the field for a walk-through, installing the first- and second-down portions of the game plan. Coughlin made it clear that despite the victory, there still are plenty of areas that need work.

And the daunting task of these midweek games is lost on no one. Road teams are 0-3 in the first three Thursday night games this season and have been outscored 118-36. Since 2012, when the NFL began playing a Thursday night game each week, home teams are 21-15.

"We have a plan which incorporates all of our learning,'' Coughlin said. "Get as much on the field as we can without taking away from the fact we just played a very physical game and it is a very short week.''

So the playlist will have to take a backseat to the playbook. The only music the Giants seem to want to hear this week is the sound of another victory.

"This is only one game,'' linebacker Jameel McClain said of the win. "We wanted to stack these games . . . I'm not a person to jump the gun. Although I am excited about the performance like everyone else is, we still have to keep building on top of that.''

New York Sports