Sunday’s game against the Lions kicks off at 1 p.m.
It likely won’t begin until after three o’clock, though. That’s about when the fourth quarter will start, and that’s when things will get very interesting.
The Lions, who have eight come-from-behind wins in fourth quarters this season, and the Giants, whose defense has been able to close out eight games decided by eight or fewer points this season, will go head-to-head in a battle of two of the league’s most dramatic units.
“I think it’s going to come down to that,” Giants linebacker Devon Kennard told Newsday of the potentially pivotal fourth quarter. “We have to be ready. Obviously we want to play well the whole game, but when the fourth quarter comes we want to be ready to keep it going and really turn on the gas.”
The keys to each team’s late successes are very similar. For the Lions, it starts with quarterback Matt Stafford.
“I think Matthew does a really good job with those guys in the huddle,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He never blinks, never flinches in tough situations. He has a very, very good focus and approach to situations like that where they don’t faze him and I think that when that happens and you have really good leadership in that regard, it’s a trickledown effect.”
For the Giants, it’s also a mindset but it doesn’t stem from one player.
“We like to finish,” safety Landon Collins said. “It’s the mindset we have, the chemistry, the determination. Knowing the defense as a whole.”
“You have to be confident in that moment,” Kennard said. “If you’re not confident, then you’ve already lost. Every time I step out on the field with my boys I feel like we’re going to get a stop. I feel like we can stop anybody anywhere.”
Last year it was the exact opposite for the Giants. They lost a lot of close games, gave up gut-wrenching plays in the fourth quarter. Just as blowing those leads became a “habit,” Collins said, so has holding onto them this year.
“We’ve had a chance to showcase that this year,” he said.
And they may get another chance shortly.
“We’ve put our foot down,” Kennard said. “We take pride in being able to stop people and we want to be in those situations. We want the opportunity to get those stops to help the team win. It’s something we want to continue to build on and I think we’re going to get the opportunity this week.”
The Lions have rallied in the fourth quarter in eight of their nine wins:
Week Go-Ahead/Tying Score Time Left Final
1 Prater 43-yard FG :04 Lions 39, Colts 35*
5 Prater 29-yard FG 1:28 Lions 24, Eagles 23
6 Prater 34-yard FG 1:29 Lions 31, Rams 28
7 Stafford to Boldin 18-yard TD pass :16 Lions 20, Redskins 17
9 Prater 58-yard FG :00 Lions 22, Vikings 16 (OT)*
11 Ebron 1-yard run 10:03 Lions 26, Jaguars 19
12 Prater 40-yard FG :00 Lions 16, Vikings 13
14 Stafford 7-yard run 3:17 Lions 20, Bears 17
* Indianapolis called for safety on final play of game.
**FG sent game into overtime.