Way back before the championship and the parade and the autobiographies and all the other fun that came at the end of last football season, the Giants found themselves heading into Week 14 of the regular season with total control of their destiny.
If the Giants won out, they would win the NFC East. Tthe Wild Card was not an option. And if they were to lose games then they would have to rely on the kindness of others to make it to the playoffs. This was not happy news to the masses.
Tom Coughlin's job was on the line, major shakeups of an aging roster loomed right around the corner and myriad other shouts were heard as the Giants tried to break out of a slump that took them from 6-2 to 6-6. You know how things wound up working out, of course, but we bring it up to draw a straight line to this year's situation.
The Giants are 7-5 instead of 6-6, but everything else about their situation is the same. Monday's loss leaves them to win out if they don't want to rely on any outside help to wind up winning the division. And the Wild Card is just as unlikely if they were to lose a game before the end of the year.
It's the same, but it is totally different. Winning that championship means that no one panics, worries or so much as raises an eyebrow about the state of affairs for the Giants.
If they did, they might wonder why Jason Pierre-Paul is talking about whether or not it is tougher to prepare for Robert Griffin III or Drew Brees instead of lamenting the fact that the defense has played well in three of the first 12 games of the season. He might wonder why he, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora keep talking about how teams are attacking them differently instead of just beating the team in front of them.
Or they might wonder why safety Antrel Rolle is talking about the team's defense being soft and too nice when he did the exact same thing last year. That either suggests the Giants defense doesn't care enough to keep doing what works or that Rolle just likes blaming things that have nothing to do with winning.
Neither says great things about the Giants, but they generate only shrugs instead of outrage. Winning a title and looking awful on the way there has a way of making it hard to summon up anything more when things play out exactly the same way.
Actually, it isn't exactly the same. This year has thrown an erratic offense into the mix, something that was never part of the equation on the carousel's last spin.
Still, nothing but murmurs from the masses except for the occasional pessimistic wave of the hand accompanied by the Giants' poor history coming off of Super Bowl wins. And should they lose a couple more, finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, we doubt there would be too much more than that.
We're not arguing it should be otherwise, but we do hope that it would serve as a lesson that teams can't just flip some switch to win a title. You get hot sometimes but, more often, you wind up being exactly what your record says you are.