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Short on playoff experience, Giants are hungry to get there

Damon Harrison #98 of the New York Giants

Damon Harrison #98 of the New York Giants celebrates a defensive play with Kelvin Sheppard #91 against the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Mike Stobe

A few weeks ago, Damon Harrison stood up in front of the team and made a confession of sorts.

“I don’t know how to win,” he told his teammates, according to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “I’ve never been to the Super Bowl or the playoffs. But I know guys who have.”

That’s when he called on those guys — Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Jonathan Casillas — to blaze the path.

“He said: ‘You all are the guys who we have to follow, have to model ourselves after,’” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “That’s the approach most guys have to take.”

Have to because so few of them have done it themselves. Of the 53 active Giants players, only 16 have participated in a postseason NFL game.

“I counted it up last week,” guard Justin Pugh said. “It’s crazy.”

It’s also about to change. The Giants are on the verge of clinching a postseason berth for the first time since 2011.

“That’s kind of special that we’re doing this together as a family, as a unit,” Pugh said referring to the complete lack of playoff experience among the five starting offensive linemen. “We’re all in these uncharted waters together, so that’s something special. There is something to be said about that. And we’re going to continue to try to figure it out as we go. There’s one way to gain experience; go out and get it.”

Rodgers-Cromartie has been part of two Super Bowl teams, but has not won the big game. He said he thinks the last few games for the Giants have provided a nice opportunity for those who never experienced the playoffs to get a sense of what they’re like.

He also remembers what it was like when his Cardinals went to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season with virtually no playoff experience on the roster.

“The one thing I know about it, man, when a team catches fire and has an understanding, it jells for them,” he said. “It comes together for them.”

Just as it seems to be doing for the Giants.

“I view it like we’re hungry,” Pugh said. “Teams that have been there consistently, they have the experience, and that’s great, but they’ve been there before and they could be complacent.”

Plus, Pugh said, the Giants may not have a lot of individual experience in postseason football but they have it where it counts.

“I don’t know how many other teams that are going to be in the playoffs can say they have multiple championships . . . and then they can point at their quarterback and say ‘Look, we have two Super Bowl MVPs here, too,’” he said. “Probably the Patriots are the only other team that can do that.”

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