New York Giants' running back Brandon Jacobs could not help himself after the Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 31-14, Sunday night to clinch the NFC East, in the process reaching the playoffs for the first time in three years. What Jacobs could not help doing was thinking about the Super Bowl-winning 2007 Giants' team.
"I would not want to face the New York Giants in the playoffs right now. I got the same feeling [that I had in 2007]. There's a lot of guys that are here that weren't here a couple of years ago when we went [to the Super Bowl in 2007], but it's the same kind of feeling that I have. It's basically the same road as well," Jacobs said.
The similarities to that team, which defeated the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, are somewhat eerie.
That Giants team was hardly a dominant one in the regular season. The Giants went 10-6 that season and earned a wild-card berth. They needed a come-from-behind Week 16 victory over the Buffalo Bills to qualify for the playoffs, then lost to New England in a spirited regular-season finale, using those games as a springboard to the playoffs.
Two weeks ago this Giants team was on the ropes. After a disheartening loss to the Washington Redskins the Giants needed victories over the New York Jets and the Cowboys to qualify for the post-season. The Giants came up with quite possibly their two most complete games of the season and got both victories.
There was even a play that resembled the famous Eli Manning to David Tyree helmet catch that set up the Super Bowl victory. In the fourth quarter, with Dallas having sliced a 21-0 deficit to 21-14 Manning dropped back to pass and faced a heavy rush. He spun away from it and, as he had with Tyree, simply flung the ball deep downfield toward Victor Cruz. The salsa-dancing second-year wide receiver leaped, made a terrific 44-yard catch that set up a Giants' field goal, and New York went on to earn the victory.
Do the Giants have a deep playoff run in them? Maybe. They get to begin with a home game against the 10-6 Atlanta Falcons Sunday at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET/FOX). They have Manning playing as well as he ever has. They have Cruz and Hakeem Nicks making plays. The defense is playing better. New York sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo six times Sunday night and, for the second straight week, the coverage issues that had plagued them most of the season, disappeared.
Still, none of Jacobs' teammates wanted to climb quite as far out on the ledge as Jacobs did in his post-game remarks.
"I think that any team that's in the playoffs wants to play us because they're in the playoffs. Why wouldn't they want to play us? They get the opportunity to beat us just like we get the opportunity to beat them," said defensive end Justin Tuck. "With that said, I think us playing like we played tonight and we played the last two weeks, it's going to be a tough road to beat us."
Manning also wanted no part of comparing the two teams.
"I think we're just going to try not to compare right now," Manning said. "We have a lot of guys on this team who weren't here in '07 and don't know so this is a whole new year and a whole new situation and we have to enjoy this, enjoy this victory tonight, but come tomorrow, we'll look at some things and start to make some corrections, but we'll get ready for Atlanta and start preparing for them and see if we can make a run through the playoffs."
Still, it's hard not to think that the possibility of something magical exists. After all, the Giants are still playing.