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Giants get a Super-sized test against the Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin

The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin celebrate after teaming up for a touchdown in the second half as the Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka #94 gets back on his feet during a game at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 15, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Giants know that when the defending Super Bowl champs are on your schedule, you take notice. You up your game. You try to rise to the occasion.

They know because they've been in that bull's-eye quite a bit in the last decade or so, having won two titles and gone through the following season taking everyone's best shot.

Sometimes they were pretty good at it. In 2008, after their first Super Bowl victory under the current regime, they were 11-1 and finished 12-4 with the top seed in the NFC.

Other times they were not, such as 2012, when they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

But it's been a rare experience for this team to be on the other end of the dynamic, to be the one trying to make a point against the title-holder.

The Giants will get a chance to do it Sunday when they visit the Seahawks and their thundering fans at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

"I think it should bring out the best of you," Eli Manning said of facing a team that just a few months ago stood where he hoped to stand, hoisted what he hoped to hoist. "See where you stand, see how you stand against a team that has won the Super Bowl a year before. We know they are a talented team, and we know we've got to go in there and play our best. So we are looking forward to that challenge and that opportunity to see if we find a way to get a win."

Manning has faced a defending champion only once in his regular-season career, and it did turn out to be a measuring stick of sorts. The Giants lost to the Packers, 38-35, late in 2011. It was their fourth straight loss, but it showed them they could hang with the best. They wound up winning three of their last four games and beat the Packers in a playoff game a little more than a month later on the way to their fourth Super Bowl victory.

The last time the Giants actually beat a defending champ in the regular season was 1998, when they topped the Broncos. Since then they have lost to the Rams in 2000, the Buccaneers in 2003 and the Packers in 2011.

The Seahawks probably were a more daunting team the last time the Giants faced them, late in the 2013 regular season. They haven't been as dominant this year and even lost a home game to the Cowboys last month.

"They lost some games, too," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said of the 5-3 Seahawks. "Somebody's got to lose that game at the end of the day. We'll see who's going to lose that game."

If it's the Seahawks, it could turn the Giants' season around. They are 3-5, but so were the NFC East champion Eagles last year. And the 2012 NFC East champion Redskins not only were 3-5 but then fell to 3-6 before their playoff push.

"We know we've still got a lot of football left," Manning said. "We've got half the season left. We're down a little bit, but nothing we can't come back from. We've got to just keep working, keep finding ways to improve, and we've just got to take one game at a time. We're worried about Seattle right now, handle our business and see how everything else works out."

Win or lose, squeaker or blowout, this game will be a good barometer for the rest of the Giants' season. It's a chance to see just how close -- or far away -- they are from the league's current benchmark.

"We're excited about that part of it," Tom Coughlin said. "A win can do a lot of things for you and put you back on track. Certainly the challenge is there for us this week, but nevertheless, we look forward to it."

New York Sports