The NFL is a week-to-week league, but few teams experience the kind of changes that the Giants have undergone in the past seven days.
They spent last Saturday as an 0-2 team with a dysfunctional offense, a defense that had zero takeaways, preparing to face an undefeated team. Two wins in five days later and the Giants are spending this Saturday on a victory tour, collecting mea culpas from analysts who wrote them off prematurely and, for the first time in a year and a half, looking and feeling like a legitimate playoff contender.
The offense is tuned to efficiency. The defense is ferocious and greedy. The team they were just a few short days ago is now practically unrecognizable.
"I think that we all knew this thing was going to click at some point and we were taking steps as the first two games went on," wide receiver Victor Cruz said on Friday, a day after the 45-14 thrashing of Washington on a national stage. "You could see the progression in our offense and it was just a matter of when it was going to happen. We kicked up right at the right time in order for us to keep our goals in [sight] and continue to head in the right direction."
"Everyone is impatient and I think we're more impatient than anyone else," safety Antrel Rolle said after the game. "Of course we wanted to go out and win right away but unfortunately it wasn't on our side, it wasn't our time. We still have a long way to go, but we're finally putting together some good football."
So which team is the real Giants? The mistake-prone one that lost the first two games? Or the highly-tuned one that has outscored its opponents 75-31 in the last two games?
"I see us as 2-2," coach Tom Coughlin said of the team's .500 record. "I don't enter into all of that. As a matter of fact, I guard our team against that. For a couple of weeks we were told that we're not very good, etc., etc., and we don't believe that. We've battled our way, at least right now, into a 2-2 season and we've got to continue that attitude about having a chip on our shoulder and having a lot to prove."
The Giants won't play another game for more than a week now, hosting Atlanta next Sunday. They need the time off to recover from the physical demands of the short (but sweet) week that may have altered the direction of their season. Given the way they have been playing, though, that's a long time to be off the field.
They know what kind of changes can take place in a week's time.