EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Riding a three-game winning streak, the New York Giants are feeling pretty good about themselves.
The west coast offense is working. Eli Manning isn’t turning the ball over and he finally has a deep threat in first-round draft pick Odell Beckham. On the other side, the defense has recorded 10 takeaways during the streak and it held the NFL’s top-ranked offense to 15 percent on third-down conversions and 20 points in beating the Falcons on Sunday.
Sounds like the Giants (3-2) are back and ready to make a run at the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
The next two weeks should tell the story. They have statement games against NFC East rivals and division co-leaders Philadelphia (4-1) and Dallas (4-1) on the road.
Coach Tom Coughlin refused to put more emphasis on the upcoming games, saying every one is a test. However, he knows Sunday night’s contest against the defending NFC East champion Eagles is important.
”We know what that challenge is about and we are excited about preparing and having the opportunity to play against the Eagles in our division,” Coughlin said Monday. ”That’s what I’m embracing, if that’s the word.”
The Giants have come a long way since opening the season with losses to Detroit and Arizona. At that point, many were expecting a second straight 0-6 start.
Things have not only gotten better, but the Giants are showing signs of being a good team. The biggest indication came Sunday when they rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit and won by 10.
”I feel like, as a team, we’re definitely growing and battling,” defensive captain Antrel Rolle said. ”We’re rising above adversity, we’re playing beyond X’s and O’s and more importantly we’re winning the fourth quarter and we’re making things happen. ”
The Giants got big lifts from a couple rookies.
Playing in his first NFL game, Beckham caught a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass from Manning and drew a pass interference call that eventually led to a 3-yard touchdown run by fellow rookie Andre Williams. The score ignited the 20-point second-half run.
Williams, who gained 65 yards on 20 carries on Sunday, is going to be an important piece of the puzzle the next few weeks. Starting halfback Rashad Jennings has an injury to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Coughlin listed him as day to day on Monday, but the way he was moving in the locker room raised doubts about his availability.
Veteran Peyton Hillis will back up Williams, the fourth-round draft pick from Boston College who led FBS halfbacks last season with 2,177 yards rushing.
”The heart of this team is the team itself, it’s not the backfield,” Jennings said. ”The offensive line – very productive. The quarterback room- very productive, the tight end and wide receiver room, too.”
The defense also has an injury that will be a concern heading to Philadelphia.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has a leg injury that has forced him to leave games at times the past few weeks. Coughlin said the injury starts at his ankle and extends to his hip and it was being evaluated Monday, as was a hamstring injury to backup linebacker Spencer Paysinger.
Cornerbacks Trumaine McBride and Zack Bowman have filled in.
Punter Steve Weatherford’s left ankle also was little sore after he to extend himself pushing Devin Hester out of bounds on a first-quarter return.
However, he intends to be ready for the Eagles.
”The implications of this, even though it’s early in the season, are huge,” Weatherford said. ”If we can hand them their second loss and pick up our fourth win, it’s huge. We’re just going to keep doing what we are doing and trust the process, coach Coughlin’s plan.”
NOTES: CB Walter Thurmond III was in the locker room with a sling after season-ending surgery for a pectoral muscle injury. The sling will come off in three weeks and he can start rehabilitation. …Coughlin said the Falcons did a good job of taking away Victor Cruz (3 catches for 22 yards) and making things difficult for tight end Larry Donnell, who did not have a catch but still leads the team with 25 receptions.
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