This idea of "must" is getting a little musty. Even for the Giants.
"We've been throwing 'must-win' around for three weeks now and we haven't won a game yet," Jason Pierre-Paul said this past week. "We just have to go out there and do it. Stop talking, stop saying it and do it as a team."
Nearly a month into what already was considered a "must-win" season in which general manager Jerry Reese put everyone "on notice," the Giants still are trying to break the ice in the win column. And there does not seem to be anything resembling a thaw in Kansas City, where they will play their fourth game of the young and already precarious season Sunday afternoon.
So yes, the Giants almost must win this game if they expect to be playing relevant games later in the schedule. It is often said that the NFL season doesn't truly begin until Thanksgiving. The Giants could be out of it before October.
Only one team since the 1970 merger has made the playoffs after an 0-4 start, and that was in 1992. The Giants aren't there yet, but at 0-3 they know just how dire their situation has become.
"We've got to go out there and let it all loose," Victor Cruz said. "We have nothing to lose at this point."
The Giants have been pinned down and found various levels of success in their recent history -- they emerged from remarkable depths to win Super Bowls twice in the past six seasons -- but they have never been this desperate this early.
They are coming off their most lopsided defeat in more than a decade, a loss that capped their worst start to a season in nearly two. They are facing an undefeated Chiefs team that seems to do just about everything better than they do. They run the ball, they pressure the quarterback, they create turnovers and they don't give the football away.
That's been the definition of so-called Giants football over the years. Now the Chiefs' arrowhead logo is next to that entry in the NFL dictionary.
The Giants' "NY" can be found under antonyms. They have a dilapidated offensive line (60 percent of them never started an NFL game before this season), have a two-time Super Bowl MVP who can't go a game without throwing at least one interception, and have allowed the most points of any team in the league.
And to make matters worse -- yes, worse! -- the Giants are facing coach Andy Reid, who, like a neighbor in a thin-walled apartment building, knows all of their secrets both good and bad. Reid coached the Eagles in the NFC East for 14 seasons and compiled a record of 17-14 against the Giants that included a 2-1 record in the postseason.
Reid has plenty of respect for the Giants and Tom Coughlin in particular. In his conference call with the New York media on Wednesday, Reid said Coughlin is a "great person" and a "Hall of Fame coach."
Coughlin's response to that high praise?
"I'd like to win one game."
It's almost unfathomable that the Giants are in this predicament, scrounging for a victory.
"We put ourselves in this situation, not anybody else," Antrel Rolle said. "Is it hard for me to believe? No, because I've been out there when it's been going down."
That doesn't mean he hasn't tried to shake himself awake from it like a bad dream, though.
"There is nothing we can do no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we play, no matter how many times we blink our eyes, nothing is going to take back that 0-3 start," he said. "It is what it is. But we can control what happens from this day going forward."
This September of gloom could wind up being the stuff of legend.
"You can't look at it like, 'Oh God, we're 0-3,' " Justin Tuck said. "The way I look at it is what a great story it will be if we figure out a way to right this ship and go on and make the playoffs and get an opportunity, hopefully, to play in the Super Bowl. That would be a tremendous turnaround."
There are 13 games left to go 180 degrees. But it must start Sunday.