The Giants have done that to all those who wondered how they'd follow up their unexpected Super Bowl championship nine months ago.
They said they'd be fine.
We didn't believe them. We wrote our stories and flapped our gums to the contrary.
And here they are now, 7-1, one of the only reliable teams in a league gone mad.
Sunday, they waxed the damaged Cowboys as they were supposed to, winning 35-14 while allowing just one offensive touchdown, putting the game out of reach before intermission.
In years past, the midway point was the Giants' cue to start losing.
Since 2003, their second half record is 12-28. And this season, the road gets exceptionally difficult for New York. They have four more games in the NFC East and three of them are on the road beginning next week in Philadelphia. They also play at Arizona and Minnesota and host the Ravens and Panthers. Carolina, Baltimore and Arizona are all 5-3. The Vikings are 4-4. Philly's 5-3. Washington is 6-2. And Dallas is 5-4.
But it's their consistency and their lack of self-importance despite their first-half success that makes them seem less likely to faceplant in 2008.
"Obviously, 7-1 is a great start but we can always look at things we can do better," said defensive end Justin Tuck, who continued his outstanding season with six tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three hurries of the beleaguered pair of Cowboys quarterbacks, Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger.
"Everyone wants to compare this football team to last year," Tuck said. "The thing about last year’s team is we had a rocky start and we continued to climb. I hope that's what we're going to do this year."
They at least seem positioned to do that. The Giants aren't a team that's out of balance. On Sunday, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward combined for 180 yards on 29 carries. Eli Manning was in game-manager mode, completing 16 of 27 for 147 and three scores. The defense throttled the Cowboys running game in the first half, allowing just 33 yards and they teed off in the secondary with three picks and an Antonio Pierce strip of Terrell Owens in the red zone.
"We expect a high level of performance from every unit," said defensive end Matthias Kiwanuka. "On defense, we’re looking solid and the offense has been performing. As long as we keep clicking, we’ll be all right."
Kiwanuka acknowledged that the Giants biggest tests are ahead of them.
"We thought about it but if you get caught up in it, it can be overwhelming," he said. "We just take each game one at a time and this week it showed."
This was the kind of game that less stable teams get trapped by. Hosting a team in disarray with backup quarterbacks running the show. How often have we seen the head-scratching results in which good teams are beaten or at least pushed to the limit by lesser ones?
The offseason reminders of how hard it is to come back strong after unexpected success did their job, said offensive tackle David Diehl.
"None of us were complacent coming into the season," he said. "We knew we could improve as a football team. Everybody still had a chip on their shoulder and had the naysayers saying last year was a fluke and we used it as a motivator. But the character of our team has shown."
Coughlin was asked about the hard road ahead. He leaned on the mantra of all coaches.
"As I always say, and I know you all raise your eyebrows, it is one game at a time for us,” Coughlin stated. "That is all we focus on, one game at a time. We are where we are because we have done it that way and we will continue to do that. You don’t ever stay the same, you either get better or worse."
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
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