2007-01-05 / Sports

Giants Get Their Shot On Sunday In Hostile Philly

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It wasn't easy and they are fortunate 8-8 was good enough, but the New York Giants are still alive and will be playing the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.

And that suits much maligned coach Tom Coughlin just fine.

"We've already jumped over the hurdle about being here, and I think that's the important thing," Coughlin said. "I don't know that it will be any kind of psychological advantage to take any approach along those lines. Underdogs, whatever, we'll draw strength from anything that we can, but I think right now we're appreciative of the fact that we were able to get in with an 8-8 record."

After holding off the Washington Redskins Saturday night, 34-28, the Giants completed their first goal of getting to the playoff, which many though would be academic coming into the season. Even though they are in, the Giants will face a tough battle on Sunday when they travel to Lincoln Financial Field. In Week 2, Big Blue came back from a 24-7 deficit to upset the Eagles in overtime, but that was months ago. Yet Coughlin will use it as inspiration.

"The circumstances under which we won, it was such a positive thing for us to come back from 24-7 to win so that we won in Philadelphia and Philadelphia beat us here," the coach said. "We'll certainly draw upon the elements of both games and talk about things such as the opportunities in the green zone, the fact that you have to stop people and get the ball back in key situations.

We'll look at the real good teaching and learning experiences from both of those games and spend a lot of time on that."

Big Blue will need another huge game from Tiki Barber - who may be playing his last game if the team loses - after carrying New York in Washington for 234 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including a 55-yard run.

Barber proficiency is not only because Washington ineptitude against the run, but also because of the play calling being made by quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride, after Coughlin took it away from offensive coodinator John Hufnagel a week ago.

"We needed to have some kind of a spark and we needed to change some of the dynamics," Coughlin said. "I think John would be the first - was obviously the first - we both came to the same conclusion. It's a reflection on the situation, the circumstance, what I felt had to be done to create a little bit different dynamic for us, if you will.

"I thought the timeliness of Kevin's play-calling was very good, and of course it certainly helps by having the response of the running game be the way it was last night to the point where we could count on the run game for big plays."

But the Giants will also need a solid performance from Eli Manning, who was 12-25 for 101 yards and one touchdown on Saturday night.

"I thought he managed the game very well," Coughlin said. "He did a lot of good things with the run game. He did a lot of going back and forth between run and pass, [he] recognized the blitz, particularly in the first half, very well.

"The thing that would really make this whole situation that much (better), obviously - and he would tell you this himself - is if that 25 passes thrown had like 20 completions. I think if we can improve in that area."

They have a week to work it out but anything can happen with a familiar opponent, then who knows? The Pittsburgh Steelers won last season as a wild card.

"I'm sure it will get mentioned, but how hard we lean on that, I don't know," the coach thought. "I am always looking for examples that can be called upon that make specific points, and certainly that's a very good one."

Which only proves that the Giants have their shot.

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