So it wasn't pretty. The point is, the Giants did what they had to do against the Lions and now go into Monday night's titanic encounter with the surprisingly 1-4 Cowboys on a three-game winning streak.
The 28-20 victory involved offense and defense doing just enough to win. Neither was dominant, particularly a defense that gave up an 87-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson off the arm of third-string quarterback Drew Stanton. That had coach Tom Coughlin particularly prickled.
"Our goal was not to give up the big play," Coughlin said. "We gave up the one to Johnson, which is typical. You know they're trying to get the ball to him. I'm yelling and screaming in the last couple of drives. You know where the ball is going."
Though the touchdown with 13:17 left in the game made things interesting, the Giants' late touchdown allowed them to avoid falling to a clearly lesser, but improving, team and head into Dallas with a full head of steam. Now, the hard work of the season begins.
Things could be better, but not much.
"Well, we're 4-2," Coughlin said. "I wish…can I have it back? Are we 6-0? Yeah. But we're not. We're 4-2. That's what we are.
"The division – this is a big weekend in the division for people and opponents that they're playing. Our goal is to take care of our team. Stay on schedule with our team. Do the best we can week in and week out. That's the only thing that we can control."
Here's some of the good and bad of the game.
Ahmad Bradshaw: He continues to run solidly, whether his feet and ankles hurt or not. He had 19 carries for 133 yards, none bigger than the 45-yarder he broke up the middle that set up Brandon Jacobs' game-icing touchdown with 3:24 left in regulation.
The Offense: Hey, Eli Manning didn't throw an interception in a 20-for-30, 177-yard, two-touchdown outing. And neither Bradshaw nor Jacobs fumbled. Been a long time since the offense went without a turnover, and the results of that are obvious. The only turnover on special teams gave the Lions their best field position of the day.
Antrel Rolle: His first interception of the season couldn't have come at a better time as the Lions were driving in the final minute of play. He gathered in a tipped pass off Brandon Pettigrew at the 16 and returned it to midfield, allowing Manning to kneel out the final seven seconds.
Deon Grant: Big fumble recovery at the Giants' 42 that led to Bradshaw's big run and Jacobs' second touchdown of the game. The safety, on field most of the game as the Giants made great use of the three-safety alignment, knew he'd jarred the ball loose from receiver Nate Burleson and pinned him to the ground as he reached around and gathered the ball in.
Shayne Graham: Guy signs Saturday to replace injured placekicker Lawrence Tynes and comes up flawless on four extra points and some decent kickoffs.
Osi Umenyiora: Two more strip sacks for the fast defensive end. But it was Justin Tuck and Barry Cofield who knocked starting quarterback Shaun Hill out of the game with an arm injury after one particularly nasty second-quarter hit.
Third Down Defense: No good. The Lions converted nine of 20 opportunities, and that allowed them to stay in the game. The defense can't afford to fall back into its old, failing ways of not getting off the field.
Terrell Thomas: He made a nice breakup late in the game, as did Kenny Phillips as Stanton's deep throw appeared headed straight for Calvin Johnson's arms. But Thomas was the guy who fell on Johnson's fourth-quarter touchdown pass, leaving the receiver unmolested the final 35 yards to the end zone. Not a good moment for an otherwise solid cornerback.
Matt Dodge: This guy must feel like Bristol Palin on Dancing With The Stars right now – always in the bottom two. And two it was, as he fumbled the same punt snap twice for the Giants' only turnover. His second mishandle of a punt this season cost the Giants an eventual touchdown. He atoned adequately on his next chance, punting it 56 yards to the Detroit 4, where it was downed. Still, you see the bad ball work and one wonders when Coughlin is going to send him out to the floor for the last dance.