EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Experts say that almost 93 million Americans will be traveling this Christmas. The Giants will be among them. And that’s not so bad.
Since 2007 the Giants have posted the third-best road record in the NFL, going 20-10 during a stretch that does not even officially include their three road playoff wins on the way to the Super Bowl. All of that is some consolation to the team since not only will it close out the regular season with two games away from home, but it will likely not play a home game again this season by virtue of last week’s loss to the Eagles.
The Giants’ path through the playoffs – should they become a playoff team – will be that of a wild card. On the road.
“The thing we’ve always stressed is the togetherness, the singleness of purpose, and the idea that all we have is each other,” Tom Coughlin said of his team’s success away from New Jersey. “It is about team and going into a hostile environment with only your teammates and coaches to rely on and depend on. It is about the mental toughness aspect of it and to be able to deal with the noise, the crowd, and the environment while still holding your own.”
Kind of like visiting your in-laws for the holidays. Only without helmet-to-helmet contact.
“We always like playing on the road because we know there’s no mystery of who’s on your side there,” Brandon Jacobs said (with perhaps a slight swipe at the fickle home crowds the team has played in front of this year). “We’ve always done well on the road.”
That includes their zig-zag trip earlier this month when they played Minnesota in Detroit by way of Kansas City.
If this season ends up where the Giants want it to, they’ll be there a lot. Just as they were in 2007, when they won playoff games in Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay before winning a Super Bowl in Arizona. The team was so proud of its ability to win away from home that year that it had the words “Road Warriors” inscribed on the championship rings. Since then the mentality has stuck, even if the actual meaning of it has been diluted. The Giants were 5-3 on the road in 2008, 4-4 in 2009.
So far this year they are 4-2 away from their new home at the Meadowlands, and for the first time since 2005 they will close out the regular season with two road games – Sunday at Green Bay and next week at Washington.
This week’s game might be considered the first playoff game on the road since the Super Bowl run; although the Giants can still wiggle into the playoffs with a loss, they’d prefer to clinch a berth with a win. And while some will take solace from the game being away from home – even if it means a Christmas day flight to Wisconsin – there are others who aren’t buying into the myth.
“We have confidence regardless,” Justin Tuck said. “We don’t care where we play, who we play, and when we play. We just want to have an opportunity to play. Sunday is just like any other game for us. At least we’re approaching it just like it’s any other game. We’ll be ready to play and we’ll be focused and that’s all that matters. Go out there and win the game.”