If not, the Giants would have no one to blame but themselves when they were left on the outside looking in come January.
So, how exactly did the defense fall asleep for two lightning-quick Minnesota drives? Wasn't there too much at stake for this to happen?
It really didn't matter. Because as the Giants defense was being shredded by Randy Moss, Michael Bennett and Vikings backup QB Todd Bouman, the offensive players stood on the sideline, as confident as can be.
"We knew what we had to do; it was do or die," Jeremy Shockey said. "We had already had our chances, but we had to take advantage of this one."
"We had a real sense of urgency," said Dan Campbell, who played a particularly strong game. "We felt like it was do or die. If they had shut us down, we might not have gotten the ball back. But no one panicked.
"I saw that look in everyone's eyes and I just knew we were going to do it."
The first play of the 10-play, 80-yard march – a short pass from Collins to Tiki Barber that gained nine yards – came with 8:36 remaining.
On the next play, Luke Petitgout was flagged for a false start. No play.
On second down, Collins couldn't hook up with Shockey, bringing up a third-and-six.
Then came one of the biggest plays – or calls – of the game. Collins' pass to Amani Toomer, who earlier in the game had gotten away with pushing off on a big gain, fell incomplete. However, a yellow flag fluttered to the turf. Pass interference on Corey Chavous. New life for the Giants.
Big Blue had the ball first-and-10 at its own 39-yard line. Barber gained four of his 127 rushing yards.
On second-and-six, Ron Dixon, who's been excellent in his first two games subbing for Ike Hilliard, caught a 15-yard pass from Collins to move the ball across midfield.
But then the Giants started going in the wrong direction again. Jason Whittle was called for a chop block, a 15-yard penalty that set Big Blue back to its 43-yard line.
"We did a good job because we had a couple of things like penalties and that sort of thing that held us back a little bit," Collins said.
Another huge play was about to unfold. Facing a very unfriendly first-and-25 situation, New York got the first down – on one play. Collins dropped back and fired to Dixon, who made a beautiful diving catch for a 29-yard gain that gave the enigmatic receiver his first 100-yard game.
"Ron Dixon, what can you say about him?" Collins asked. "He came up big on a big play. That really set us up for the score."
"This is exciting," Dixon said. "It was just a regular seam route. Kerry put it in a very tight spot."
Barber was held to one yard on the next play, before Collins dumped it off to him for five more.
Now came another crossroads for the Giants. Sure, at the Vikings 22-yard line, they were already in field-goal range. But after what the specialists had done that day, no one wanted it to come down to a kick.
"Not a chance," one player said. "We didn't want that. We would have killed them if they (messed) up again."
The Giants didn't. On third downs, Collins used to look to Hilliard. Now, he looks for big number 80. Shockey caught the pass, passed the first down marker and kept the club's biggest drive of the season alive.
"He ran a good route and I put it in there for him," Collins said.
With a first-and-10 from the 17, Collins hooked up with Barber again, this time for nine yards. Barber was New York's leading receiver in the contest as well, with seven catches for 46 yards.
Barber would finish the drive – and the Vikings – off on the very next play.
He took the handoff, headed upfield and scampered eight yards for the game-winning points.
"We had two double-teams on the line," Barber explained. "I got through and Daryl Jones made a great downfield block on the safety (Willie Offord) and I was able to get in."
Just like that, the Giants went from blowing the lead in a huge contest to rising from the ashes and ripping the game right out of the Vikings' clutches.
"We had all the confidence in the world that we could do it," Luke Petitgout said.
"Thankfully we scored when we needed to," Collins added.
Saying they needed to score was an understatement, as was saying that they desperately needed this game."Nobody gave up," Campbell said. "We knew we could do it."