EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. – The 2013 Giants have demonstrated they are a team of great resolve.
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That in itself is fairly remarkable, considering the Giants lost their first six games. But instead of going through the motions in the final 10 games, the Giants fought back to win four games in a row. The following week, they rallied from a 21-6 deficit to tie the score late, only to have the Dallas Cowboys kick a field goal on the game's final play. Had they gotten one stop on Dallas' final possession, they might well be working on a six-game winning streak. The Giants will be in San Diego Sunday to begin the final quarter of their season with a chance to finish with a winning record and an outside shot at the postseason.
"(We're) very excited to persevere and show some resiliency," coach Tom Coughlin said. "The start of the game certainly wasn't the way we expected it to start."
"We're a team full of resilient individuals," said defensive end Justin Tuck, who had a career-high 4.0 sacks of Robert Griffin III. "We understand that it's a long season and we have to keep fighting. Regardless of what our record is, we have to keep fighting. I think that's the approach we've taken. Obviously, being 0-6, it really put us into a deep hole and it's hard to get out of that, but I'm pretty proud of the way we fought the last six games. We had an opportunity to go six in a row. We got five and it didn't happen for us last week, but we bounced back and got a win this week and picked back up on that momentum going out to San Diego this weekend.
"Honestly, the mood has been great. I think guys have played loose and are having fun out on the football field, which I can't say we did do the first couple of weeks of the season. I think this team is very close right now and we just have to play into each other. I think that's our tremendous difference."
Perhaps because the last seven weeks have been a comeback, no one was overly concerned when Washington took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
"I don't know if it's a good thing, but we've been there before," center Kevin Boothe said. "It was still early and we responded well. That's what we expect to do. We don't like to be behind so quickly but that's the way the game went. We're a resilient group and we kept fighting. There wasn't panic, but there is a sense of urgency, obviously. I think when you've been there before it's easier to communicate and execute because you're able to keep your focus and keep your cool even though things might not be going your way."
"We weren't concerned at all," linebacker Jon Beason said. "Any time teams are coming out, then move the ball down and they go down and score you come back to the sideline and you say, 'Okay, what happened on the drive? Well, we didn't do this or we didn't do that." That's on us. Let's do that better on the next series. And even with our offense. They stayed the course. Maybe they don't score early and all of a sudden they get a drive going, they start running the ball and boom, it's 14-7. The game is so long, there are highs and lows. Those guys are paid, too, on that other side. All you can do is try to come back and execute the scheme and that's what we did."
The Giants gained confidence in their ability to overcome adverse scenarios when they climbed out of their 0-6 hole. Now they don't look at any obstacle as insurmountable, particularly a 14-point deficit early in the game.
"Weather the storm," Tuck said. "I think for us, we've been in these situations so many times, but it seems like we never get too high with the highs, or too low with the lows. We understand that it's a long football game. We've got Eli Manning and that offense, they can make up points in a hurry. So for us, we know on defense we had to get some stops. (We had to) just go out there and, regardless, don't look at the scoreboard. Just stop them in the play and get our offense the ball back."
That's exactly what happened. Washington's last nine possessions included six punts, the end of the first half, a fumble and just one score, on a field goal after the Redskins had a first down at the Giants' 12-yard line following an interception. That enabled the offense to get its footing. The Giants tied the score on second-quarter touchdowns by Andre Brown and Brandon Myers and took the lead for good on the second play of the fourth quarter when Brown scored from a yard out.
"We can't get discouraged being down 14 points," Brown said. "We came out fighting, the defense got a stop, we finally got on the board, and that was that."
He was describing the game, but the comment also applies to the season as a whole.
"You can't go back and look at the past and say, 'We wish we could have did this and could have did that,'" Brown said. "We put ourselves in a situation where we're at now, and we just have to go out there and continue to win football games and hope for a miracle."