Giants running back Andre Williams (44) takes the hand off...

Giants running back Andre Williams (44) takes the hand off from quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the first half of a game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: AP / Brandon Wade

The Steelers set the bar pretty high.

"I'd like to have 639 yards of total offense, thank you very much," noted coach Tom Coughlin this past week, a reference to the impressive total put up by Pittsburgh in last week's 51-34 win over the Colts.

The problem is that in their past two games, the Giants have averaged less than half that amount -- 302.5 yards against the Eagles and Cowboys -- and haven't topped 400 since they trounced Washington on Sept. 25. So as they head into Monday night's game against the Colts, one dubbed a playoff-type game, they not only are trying to get back in the win column for the first time in nearly a month but attempting to get their offense back in gear.

General manager Jerry Reese said last week that he wanted the unit to be more aggressive. Coordinator Ben McAdoo had another word. "We want to be more explosive," he said. "We are looking for explosive plays. We feel that [explosive plays] are a part of great execution and extra effort. Regardless of how they come, you want to be more explosive."

He even knows how many he wants -- 13 percent of the snaps. That's eight or nine per game.

"Right now we're at about 10.3 percent of our plays [being explosive]," McAdoo said. "We're short about 2.7 percent of our goal . . . It leads to wins."

Against the Colts, even that might not do it. They have the league's most potent offense and passing game and are second in the NFL in scoring. Even when they were waxed by the Steelers last week, they scored more points than the Giants have in all but one of their games.

When the Giants faced the Falcons on Oct. 5, Atlanta had the league's best offense. The Giants won, 30-20 (but haven't won since). Now they go against the league's best again. Different team, same ranking.

"Honestly, this is the number one offense," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "I think it gives us a great shot to prove to the world what our defense is capable of. We will be playing at our best, and that is basically it. We can't do nothing less but play our best."

Like the offense, that hasn't happened in a while, either, but it must now. In the two weeks since the Giants have been on the field, their position in the division has changed. They're still looking up at the Cowboys (6-3) and Eagles (6-2), but now they see teams being quarterbacked by Brandon Weeden and Mark Sanchez (yes, that Mark Sanchez). If they can close the gap in the next four weeks -- they face the Seahawks, 49ers and Cowboys after this, none of whom look invincible -- they'll have a chance to make a playoff push in December when they face more feeble opponents: the Jaguars, Titans and Rams.

To do that, they'll need to change their own level of play. And that's the plan.

"It's really unique, I'm telling you," linebacker Jameel McClain said of what's going to be altered for the Giants on defense Monday night against the Colts. "We're going to play defense. That's how we're going to stop them. We're going to do the most unique thing you've ever seen. We're going to play good, sound, fundamental defense."

That would be new. On both sides of the ball.

"And with that," McClain said, "we'll see how it ends."

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