Instant Analysis: Giants, somehow, are back in the NFC East race

Linval Joseph sacks Matt Barkley - Al Bello

The Giants, as improbable as it seems, are back in the chase for the NFC East title at the halfway point in the season.

Forget the 11 penalties. Forget the fact that they had to settle for five field goals and never got into the end zone. Forget the worst snap of long snapper Zak DeOssie's career. Forget, for a second, that the New York Giants are 2-6 at the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season.

Sunday was a great day for the Giants.

The Giants won a second straight football game, imperfect though it undeniably was, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 15-7. Couple that with the Dallas Cowboys losing to the Detroit Lions, 31-30, on a last-second touchdown by Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford. That means the Giants find themselves only two games behind the 4-4 Cowboys with eight games left in the season. There is suddenly life to the Giants, and something to be excited about, after a season that started in unimaginable 0-6 fashion.

"We still believe," quarterback Eli Manning said after the game.

Yes, why not the Giants?

The 3-5 Eagles, quite obviously, are pretenders. They have made some progress under Chip Kelly, but they aren't there yet.

The division-leading Cowboys? For years they have had a penchant for turning games they should have won into games they can't believe they lost. They have done it at least twice this season, and the fact that it is Dallas the Giants are chasing has to give the Giants hope.

The Redskins? Even if they win today they will be 3-4, and the Giants still have to play them twice.

So yes, why not the Giants?

"A winning locker room is 10 times better than any of the losing locker rooms I've ever been in," said place-kicker Josh Brown, who went 5-for-5 on field goals. "Everybody's excited."

With a suddenly stout defense that has not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters the Giants look like a different team. Without a punt return for a touchdown by the Minnesota Vikings and the worst long snap of Zak DeOssie's career against the Eagles the Giants would have pitched back-to-back shutouts.

The Giants are not exactly a juggernaut on offense. They still have issues in the red zone, going 0-for-2 there Sunday and settling for five field goals. They also had all sorts of difficulty beating the play clock on several occasions against the Eagles.

The offense, though, has been much more stable the past two weeks. Manning has not thrown an interception in the two victories after throwing 15 in the six losses. Peyton Hillis has given the Giants more than they could have imagined, blocking, catching the ball and churning out key yards. He had 20 carries for 70 yards Sunday, and a handful of nice blocks in pass protection. The presence of John Connor has given the Giants a real fullback. Manning has been sacked just three times in the past three weeks.

The Giants have never made things easy on themselves during the Tom Coughlin era, and have made this season look darn near impossible. Yet, thanks to the fact that there is no powerhouse team in the NFC East the Giants are still breathing.

They still have a have a lot of things to fix. Somehow, though, they still have a chance. With eight games to go that is pretty much all they could have asked for.

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