The biggest Giants win in years accomplished nothing.
Last week’s 10-7 victory over the Cowboys was exciting. It showed the Giants to have a dominant defense and proved that they can go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the NFL. It also gave them a bit of a cushion in their pursuit of the playoffs.
But they’re not there yet.
Which is why Sunday’s game against the Lions now replaces last week’s as the most significant of the season. And so on and so forth.
“Every game gets a little bigger,” said Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who has been part of two Super Bowl runs with the Saints and Patriots. “We may not play a one-loss team this week, but it’s a division leader. And it means a lot when it comes to the playoffs. Every game is going to get bigger whether the record of the team we play against is one-loss, two-loss, three-loss, whatever it is. The games are going to get bigger. The biggest game we have to this date is this one.”
The Giants can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, but a lot of things have to happen. First they need to beat the Lions. Then the Vikings and Packers have to lose or tie their games against the Colts and Bears, respectively. Finally, Washington must lose to Carolina on Monday night.
If all of that happens, great. The Giants, though, are focused only on the first matter of course. Which is why they put the Cowboys win behind them quickly.
“Beating Dallas was a stepping stone but we want to get far out there,” safety Landon Collins said. “It’s known. You don’t see anybody being complacent.”
Ben McAdoo said “staying in the moment and focusing on your preparation is what’s important” along with “doing whatever you have to do to put yourself in position to play at a high level on Sunday.”
That, he hopes, has already taken place.
“You can’t show up for the game and think, ‘Well, it’s an important game, I have to play harder,’” he said. “It’s about the way you prepare during the course of the week. Everything we do during the course of a week is about winning the game on Sunday. You prepare that way. If you don’t win the game, it feels like you flushed a whole week of your life down the toilet.”
BECKHAM JR. WANTS PLAYOFF IN METLIFE
Odell Beckham Jr. remembers his first impression of Giants fans at MetLife Stadium. It was not a good one.
“I remember them leaving games,” he said. “Specifically, I remember the Cardinals game my rookie year . . . I watched people in that stadium just leave like we’re out of here, the game is over. We don’t want to be caught in traffic. It was shocking to me at the time.”
Beckham was on the sideline for that game, still nursing his hamstring injury. The Giants led 14-13 in the fourth quarter but the Cardinals returned a punt for a touchdown, the Giants fumbled the kickoff, and the Cardinals kicked a field goal to go ahead 22-14 with just over nine minutes left in a 25-14 win.
This year, though, things are different. MetLife Stadium has been home to exciting games. The Giants are 6-1 there and all seven of the contests have been decided by 7 points or less, four of them decided by 3 or less. The fans have responded.
“You can tell that they’re very into it and see what we have going on,” Beckham said. “Hopefully we give them some hope and something to cheer for.”
This could be the last chance for the fans to see the Giants in person. It’s the last regular-season home game and if the Giants do make the playoffs they seem more likely to do so as a wild card than a division champ.
They can still catch the Cowboys, though. They trail them by two games with three remaining and hold the head-to-head tie-breaker. If the Giants do win the NFC East, they would then get a home playoff game.
“Hopefully things go right and we win the next couple and we have a chance to be back here,” Beckham said. “That’s the goal, to come back and play for the home crowd . . . That should be pretty crazy. We want to put ourselves in the best position to get one more home game.
EYE ON THIRD OPTION AT LONG-SNAPPER
As the Eagles proved last week, a team can never have enough long-snappers.
“Philly saw that you have to have three,” Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said of the Eagles’ loss to Washington that saw their first two options leave the game with injuries. “It’s a scary deal.”
The Giants have two. One is a Pro Bowler at the position, Zak DeOssie. His backup is LB Mark Herzlich, who practices the act regularly but has never had to do it in a regular-season game.
“Yeah, we are trying to develop as many guys as you have,” Quinn said. “Some years you have more and some years you have less, but we have a couple guys that we work there.”
The third option for the Giants likely would be center Weston Richburg, who performed the duty a bit in college. That’s important to remember since DeOssie has been limited this week with a hamstring injury and Herzlich is coming back from a concussion.
“You hope you never have to get to him,” Quinn said.
SLAY: NO TRASH TALKING BECKHAM
Lions CB Darius Slay knows he’s going up against an elite wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. So does his family.
“Guys like him are very exciting with the ball,” Slay told reporters in Detroit this week. “My son loves watching his highlights.”
Beckham added a new one to his oeuvre last week with a 61-yard catch and run against the Cowboys.
Slay said he won’t resort to the tactics some cornerbacks have used against Beckham, which is trash talking and extra physical play to get him off his game.
“I can talk, but it ain’t gotta be none of that kind of stuff he had going on with whoever,” Slay said of Beckham’s on-field altercations with Josh Norman. “None of that. It can be a friendly conversation. I joke a lot, my joking is talking trash. So whoever’s in front of me, if I got a joke for you, I’m gonna give it to you.”
FIVE OVER .500 TEAMS CLASH
This will be the first Giants game in which both teams are at least five games over .500 in nearly six years. You may not recall the last time it happened off the top of your head, but you undoubtedly remember the game. It was the Dec. 19, 2010 contest between the 9-4 Giants and the 9-4 Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Giants blew a 21-point lead with eight minutes to play and lost, 38-31, on DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return as time expired.
12: Career TD passes for Eli Manning that have gone between 60 and 69 yards after last week’s 61-yarder to Odell Beckham Jr. That’s more than Manning’s number of touchdown passes between 40 and 49 yards (nine) and 50 and 59 yards (seven).
8: Giants wins this season in games decided by eight points or less, the highest win total in such games in the NFL. The Giants are 8-2 in those one-score games. The Raiders are 7-1 and the Cowboys are 6-2.
15: Current Lions players who were not yet born the last time the Lions won a playoff game on Jan. 5, 1992.