With a week to go, the Giants again find themselves teetering on the edge a playoff berth just like last year. But what makes this season different is that the Giants don't need outside help walking into MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
That's not the only difference, says Justin Tuck.
"I think it's just we've faced so much adversity this year and we fought through it," he said on Monday. "It seems like nowadays, these last couple weeks, some things are starting to turn our way. We're getting a little healthier. We're focusing better, and it just seems like we're playing as one. I think at this time of the year, those are some key attributes to teams that are normally poised to make playoff runs."
Tuck was summing up the team as a whole, but he may as well been referring to his own journey this season. Fighting multiple injuries, Tuck finally had his name stricken from the injury report last week and went out to post four tackles and a sack against the Jets.
That helped the Giants shore up a primetime winner-take-all bout in the final game of the season against the Dallas Cowboys, of whom Tuck has made his feelings clear.
"I know our crowd is going to come out fired up for this game," Tuck said. "Playoff atmosphere, Sunday night, winner-take-all. I know our fans hate the Cowboys as much as I do, so it'll be fun. And there you go, I just said it."
The Giants, whose signature wins have all come on the road this season, are just 3-4 at home, including disappointments against Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington. Tuck fielded questions on the issue of home field advantage and whether the Giants can replicate the sense of urgency that they had last week as the "road team."
"I hadn't even thought about it," Tuck said. "The only thing that we've thought about is making sure that we put this Jet game behind us and focus on the obstacles that a very talented Cowboys team is going to bring in here. We haven't even thought about playing at home."
Tuck was asked if it will be an advantage.
"It should be, definitely," he continued. "We love the atmosphere in our stadium and we know it's going to be a playoff-like atmosphere, a playoff game for both teams. Win or go home. You have to love that."
Meanwhile, the Cowboys will be coming in with their own nicks and bruises to quarterback Tony Romo and running back Felix Jones, who were both taken out midway through their loss to the Eagles on Saturday. Tuck, along with the rest of the Giants staff, expects them to play and is preparing that way.
"They could everybody on the Ring of Honor for them, you've got to play them," Tuck said. "I know in games like this, pains don't hurt as much. Romo is going to play. Felix Jones is going to play. We're going to have to beat them, that's all that matters."
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