Technically, the playoffs start this weekend. In reality, the last two weeks were 'win or go home' for the Giants, so they have been in playoff mode for a while now.
"We have been in playoff games for the last three weeks. We are battle tested in a lot of ways because we have played some really outstanding football teams all down through the second half of the season," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday during his meeting with reporters. "What I told them was the straight up truth, this is the playoffs. There are 12 teams in the playoffs and 20 teams go home, it is a single-elimination tournament and if you win, you go on. If you lose, you go home."
Coughlin was also asked if the approach to preparation changes now that the team is in the playoffs.
"The approach doesn't change all that much, to be honest with you. It's always focused on ahead regardless of whether there are issues, problems, we lost a game. It's always the work ethic, the team concept. Right at this point of the year, without a doubt you're helped by the circumstance, too. People understand and know what the consequences are of their play. The motivation is incredible. It's a great time of the year," Coughlin said. "We've had a million questions asked about our ability to finish, so that's always been in the back of our mind. We've talked about it openly. It was our goal at the very beginning of the year and the guys have bought into that, they see it.
"We have some people here that know how to win, that have done it in a very, very wonderful place not too long ago, that can share with a lot of others about what it takes at this time of the year to put yourself in that position or at least to get into the tournament."
[Justin] Tuck fired the first shot of wild-card week on Monday when he called the Falcons’ line "dirtbags" and acknowledged their well-earned reputation for dirty play. Twice this season opponents have ripped into the Atlanta line for "cheap" and dangerous tactics.
And Tuck said the Giants’ defensive lineman will be watching out for that during their playoff game at the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon.
"Yeah we’ve seen it. We know they have that quote-unquote ‘reputation,’" Tuck told reporters, one day after the Giants’ clinched the NFC East championship with a 31-14 win over the Cowboys. "Most people, you would call them dirt bags.
"But it is what it is. We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing our job well. Then they will be upset and they will be trying to do things to get us off our game, and we’ve got to take that as a compliment."
"It was definitely fun," he said. "I could do those things, I can get out and block and catch and any way I can help the team out, whether I have to run all [isolation] blocks all game or I have to catch a bunch of passes, I don’t care, as long as I do my part to help the team win."