Fast start brings back Super thoughts

First things first. In no way, shape or form are we saying that the Giants, after stringing together consecutive wins to start the season, are Super Bowl bound. However, it has been five years since New York so successfully kicked off an NFL campaign. And we all know what happened in 2000, now don't we?

Of course, there's little to no comparison between the clubs. Five years in today's day and age might as well be a lifetime. For one, Tiki Barber says that this year's version is much better, that the '05 model has more talent.

While guaranteeing absolutely nothing, it is safe to say that New York has made the most of its opportunities in the past when kicking off a season in similar fashion. In the previous 16 seasons in which they won their first two games, the Giants finished with a winning record 14 times and at .500 once (in 1968). The Giants have not started 2-0 and finished the season with a losing record since 1928, when they finished 4-7-2.

But back to that surprising 2000 club. That was one wild ride. Here's what a couple of the participants recalled about the run to Tampa.

"I remember we had a lot of fun," receiver Amani Toomer said. "That was one of the most fun teams I've ever played on, not just because we were winning, but because all the guys really enjoyed being around each other and enjoyed competing with each other. We had a group of guys that would fight for four quarters."

"The guarantee," safety Shaun Williams said. "I think everybody remembers that the most. We were a team that was very confident. We felt like we were going to do something special that year."

Of course, Jim Fassel's famous guarantee. After New York laid an egg at home and got drilled by Detroit, 31-21, Fassel went out on a limb and told the world his club was going to the playoffs – no doubt about it.

"I'm raising the stakes right now," Fassel said on Nov. 19, 2000. "If this is a poker game, I'm shoving my chips to the middle of the table. I'm raising the ante. Anybody that wants in, get in. Anybody that wants out can get out.

"This team is going to the playoffs. This team is going to the playoffs."

And so a legend was born. New York ripped off seven straight wins before getting blown out by Baltimore in Super Bowl XXXV.

For those in a nostalgic mood, here's a brief look back at that glorious season.

After being picked by most to finish dead last in the NFC East, the Giants unleashed their brief-lived Thunder and Lightning rushing attack with Barber and Ron Dayne combining for 222 yards in a 21-16 home win over Arizona.

A couple Kerry Collins TD passes to Toomer and Ike Hilliard allowed New York to roll over the Eagles in Philly, 33-18, and give New York its first 2-0 start under Fassel.

It wasn't pretty by any stretch, but Big Blue certainly took its 14-7 win over the Bears at Chicago's Soldier Field. A rugged defense and a 34-yard Collins to Ron Dixon hook-up did the trick.

The fun ended when the Redskins came into Giants Stadium and kicked the Giants around. Hilliard's late TD grab wasn't nearly enough in a 16-6 loss.

The negative momentum continued as the Titans ripped Big Blue in Tennessee, 28-14. Both Eddie George on the ground and Derrick Mason through the air topped 100 yards against New York.

Dayne's early TD run held up as the Giants got back into the win column, by topping Atlanta at Giants Stadium, 13-6. Former Giants QB Danny Kanell took the loss for the Falcons.

New York picked off Troy Aikman five times and held off the Cowboys, 19-14, at Giants Stadium to improve their mark to 5-2.

The Giants harassed Donovan McNabb all day long in easily topping the Eagles at Giants Stadium, 24-7. Big Blue TDs came from Dayne, Toomer and running back Joe Montgomery.

Big Blue posted its fourth consecutive win by thoroughly handling the Browns in Cleveland, 24-3. Collins threw for three TDs – two to Toomer, one to Hilliard.

The first of the two embarrassing home losses that preceded the guarantee was delivered by Rams backup QB Trent Green, as St. Louis rolled to a 38-24 win.

Charlie Batch of the Lions passed for three TDs as the Lions slapped around the Giants, 31-21, setting the stage for Fassel's outburst three days later.

Guaranteed. The Giants headed out to the Valley of the Sun (good timing, Coach) and destroyed the Cardinals, 31-7, behind rushing TDs from Dayne, Barber and even Toomer, who scored on a 19-yard reverse.

Three Brad Daluiso field goals were enough as the Giants defense stuffed Washington, 9-7, in DC.

An easy 30-10 victory over the Steelers at Giants Stadium was set up by Collins TD passes to Toomer and Hilliard.

What better place for the Giants to clinch the NFC East than Big D? New York knocked off the Cowboys, 17-13, in Texas Stadium to wrap up a surprising division title.

The Giants clinched the NFC's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by holding off Jacksonville, 28-25. Jason Sehorn wrapped up the game by returning a Jags onsides kick 38 yards for a touchdown.

New York hosted its first playoff game since '97 by topping the Eagles, 20-10, behind a 97-yard kickoff return by Dixon on the opening kickoff and an athletic 32-yard INT return for a score by Sehorn.

In perhaps the greatest game Giants Stadium has ever seen, Big Blue absolutely hammered the Vikings, 41-0, to win its seventh straight game since the guarantee and clinch a berth in the Super Bowl for the first time in a decade.

Since this is obviously a feel-good piece, we decided to leave out the details of the unhappy ending.

While Williams said it's way too early to draw any comparisons, he does see one similarity between then and now that he likes.

"The personnel is a lot different," he said. "But I think the attitude is one thing that is very similar. We have the attitude of a team that has a lot to prove. That team had a lot to prove, and that was a good thing for us because we did go through a lot of ups and downs that year. We always kept our confidence and poise."

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