New York Giants off to best start since 9-1 in 2008
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants are riding their longest winning streak in six years, and there is no reason to think it is going to end soon.
Rookie coach Ben McAdoo's team has won five in a row and it is heading to Cleveland this weekend for a game against the winless Browns, who will be without starting quarterback Cody Kessler because of a concussion.
And yet, the Giants (7-3) are not even close to peaking.
The offense has been inconsistent. While the running game has posted consecutive 100-yard games in wins over the Bengals and Bears, it remains one of the NFL's worst.
Eli Manning and the passing game have shown flashes, but overall have been inconsistent. The combination of Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. is the big-play threat. The rest of the offense features a grind-it-out style that can't afford any mistakes.
The defense, ranked last a year ago, is one reason the Giants have one more win than they managed in either of the last two seasons. It has closed out games week after week during the current run, something it failed to do a year ago in losing six games either in the fourth quarter or overtime.
''We haven't accomplished anything yet,'' McAdoo said Monday in reviewing Sunday's 22-16 win over Chicago. ''The highs are high and the lows are low and you're going have to put out three dumpster fires a day. Other than that, you need to focus on your preparation and get ready for the next opponent.''
With six games left in the regular season, the Giants have the best record among the non-division leaders. However, the wild-card race is tight and a couple of losses can quickly drop a team out a playoff spot, which is a possibility for a club that has won seven games by a total of 27 points.
''Seven wins doesn't get you very far,'' McAdoo said. ''We need to keep stacking success.''
There is a good feeling in the locker room after sweeping a three-game homestand. Players are confident, yet they are saying the right things. They are in the coach-speak mode with the obligatory ''on any given week in the NFL ...''
McAdoo has also done his best to keep the players on edge.
''Winning is fun, but we can't get too comfortable,'' said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, whose 2+-sack performance Sunday was his best since injuring his right hand in a fireworks accident last year. ''Coach McAdoo said get uncomfortable being comfortable.''
In preparation for last week' game, McAdoo had each player stand up, look at the person next to him and switch seats.
''That right there made guys realize, you know, this is not my regular seat,'' Pierre-Paul said. ''I'm not trying to sit here. That made guys realize you have to be uncomfortable to get things done.''
The Giants have gotten things done. They rallied from a 16-6 deficit on Sunday behind two touchdown passes by Manning and a stout effort by the defense in the second half.
''Having three home games is rare, and obviously if you can win all three of them, that's big,'' Manning said. ''We did what we had to do and took care of it. Now we've got two road games and we have to continue to handle business.
''I'm just proud of the way the guys are finding ways to win. Every game has been a little different; they've all been close, they've all come down to the last series. Offense, defense, everybody's stepping up and doing their part to get wins.''
NOTES: McAdoo said Gs Brett Jones (calf) and Marshall Newhouse (knee) would be evaluated later in the week. They were injured in the last two weeks filling in for Justin Pugh (knee) at left guard. Pugh is starting to move around after missing the last two games. ... WR Roger Lewis Jr. is in the concussion protocol after being hurt Sunday. ... McAdoo said TE Larry Donnell was inactive because he wanted an extra offensive lineman on Sunday. ... The rookie coach doesn't like rating his players. He was asked about S Landon Collins, who has five interceptions in the last four games. ''I don't get a chance to watch everybody in the league, so I don't have an opinion on whether he's playing at an All-Pro level. But I know he's playing at a high level for us.''
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and -http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL