After their rousing win over the Seahawks, the Giants spent Sunday night in Seattle and flew home on Monday. But there was no big party to celebrate their arrival on the scene as legitimate contenders in the NFC playoff picture. Nor was there much in the way of roaming the streets of the Pacific Northwest as conquerors.
Instead, the Giants essentially went back to work. The players received treatment for the bumps and bruises — some more serious than others — suffered during the 17-12 victory, and the coaches dived into making corrections from that contest and formulating a plan for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
"Everyone was six feet apart in their own rooms," Joe Judge said of the somewhat boring itinerary. "This wasn’t the most exciting slumber party."
It is, however, turning into a fairly exciting season. And while the victory enabled the Giants to maintain a share of first place in the NFC East, it did not guarantee them anything beyond the four games that remain on the regular-season schedule.
The fact that the Giants were where they were after their most recent game on Sunday night — not physically in Seattle but as a team in the playoff hunt — was a surprise to many. For the Giants, though, it was an affirmation of what they have thought of themselves all along.
It was just a few weeks ago, when the Giants were 1-6, that Judge declared, to the snickers of many, that he felt the team was "fully on track" with his long-term plan for the franchise.
"I have a vision for this team and I know where this team is going to go," he said on Oct. 27.
On Dec. 7, after four straight wins, he was able to say the same thing — and with the results to back him up.
"I [received] a lot of questions obviously early in the year about things like confidence on the team and where were we going, and really our mindset here is just go back to work every week, and that’s what we’re going to do this week as well," Judge said Monday. "But the thing that’s never changed with our players from Day One of training camp all the way through now is the way they’ve come in on a daily basis and worked.
"Look, when things aren’t going great, you hear a lot of noise on the outside, but internally, everyone is working with good spirit, good focus, and putting the team first. That’s when you know you’re on the right track."
Did he expect that foundational philosophy for the organization to mesh with tangible results so quickly?
"Each team’s expectations and progress are unique," he said. "I didn’t really have a definite timetable in terms of where they needed to be at certain points . . . I wouldn’t say they’re ahead or behind any kind of a schedule. I just know that they come to work every day and improve, and that’s carried over on a weekly basis."
Right into this week. The Giants landed in New Jersey on Monday night and found out that Washington had upset previously unbeaten Pittsburgh to move into a tie for first in the NFC East (the Giants hold a tiebreaker advantage). Then they quickly returned to the grind of trying to beat the Cardinals.
"There are still things we have to have a lot of improvement on and consistency going forward," Judge said. "We’re far from where we need to be or want to be as a team. There’s a lot of work ahead of us. But I was pleased with the constant progress I saw."
And apparently started seeing long before anyone else did.
Notes & quotes: Linebacker Blake Martinez, the Giants’ defensive captain, missed the final series of the game with a lower-back injury, but Judge does not foresee it being a long-term issue. Martinez leads the Giants with 111 tackles. "It doesn’t look like there is necessarily anything serious, but we want to give them a day to kind of go ahead and see where they’re at," Judge said . . . Judge noted two plays that stood out to him from Sunday. The first was when CB James Bradberry was stiff-armed by WR DK Metcalf but fought through to force the ball loose. "It just shows the focus that these guys have to finish," he said. The other play was the offensive reaction to the interception in the first half. "There are a lot of teams when that happens that would just let [Quandre Diggs] run down the sideline and go ahead and finish with a touchdown," Judge said. "We had 11 hats screaming to the ball and guys playing with effort with good pursuit angles down the field. They came away from that drive with no points." . . . Quarterback Joe Webb is expected to clear COVID-19 protocols and sign with the Giants’ practice squad on Tuesday.