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This Giants team hasn't done this before

Spencer Paysinger of the New York Giants takes

Spencer Paysinger of the New York Giants takes the field before the game against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 15, 2013) Credit: Getty

Tom Coughlin pointed it out almost immediately following Sunday's loss, to both the team and to reporters.

"We've been 0-2 before, we've dug ourselves into a hole before, and been able to fight our way out of it,'' he said at his news conference. "And we did it with 'team.' "

It is true. In 2007, the Giants started with two losses and rallied to win the Super Bowl. It is a part of franchise lore by now. Maybe this team will do that, too. Maybe it won't. But the fact that it has such an accomplishment on its resume should give the players some optimism.

But wait. Wasn't that, like, six full seasons ago? Who is this "we'' Coughlin talked about having been here before?

It turns out that it's a very small portion of the team.

There are nine players remaining on the 53-man roster who were with the Giants in 2007. Two of them (Aaron Ross, David Diehl) didn't play Sunday. One just rejoined the team during the week (Brandon Jacobs). The other six are: Eli Manning, Corey Webster, Zak DeOssie, Chris Snee, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Nine players out of 53 is 16.9 percent. So when Coughlin says "we did this'' and "we did that,'' he's talking to a fraction of the team. A handful of players. Less than a third of the current Giants were even playing pro football in 2007. Most were in college. Some were in high school. Damontre Moore, the youngest Giant, was a sophomore in Texas playing on the junior varsity in the fall of 2007.

"It's not going to mean as much to me as the actual guys who went through it,'' Moore said.

It turns out they aren't even buoyed by the deja vu.

"I'm tired of that phrase,'' Tuck said to reporters Monday when the subject of "been here before'' inevitably arose. "If you hear me use that phrase again, you have permission to punch me in the stomach.''

Last year, when the Giants were limping to the finish line, they relied on their history to boost their spirits. Perhaps too much.

"If we allow ourselves to use that as a crutch, and say we've done it before, then we'll end up like last year,'' Tuck said. "This year is different circumstances. The problems we had in 2007 weren't the same problems we're having this year. This year's leadership and this year's team have to figure out how to right the ship.''

Not looking back doesn't mean the Giants won't repeat their history.

"I think we're a team that's right on the brink, we're right on the cusp of making a big game, having a statement game and taking it from there,'' Victor Cruz said. "Once we get that first win, I feel like we can roll from there.''

That's what happened in 2007 -- when Cruz was a redshirt sophomore at UMass and finished the season with one catch.

"Obviously, that's a great story line to present to the team and say, 'Hey, this type of story line has happened before,' '' said linebacker Spencer Paysinger, a redshirt freshman at Oregon in 2007. "But we can't say that this team has done it before.

"There are no guarantees.''

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