Whether the Giants win or lose, coach Tom Coughlin usually encourages his team to forget about past games and instead focus on the next opponent.
However, this week, Coughlin is breaking with tradition, and with good reason. His Giants will be paying yet another visit to Minnesota to face the Vikings, a team that last year embarrassed New York 44-7 in the final game of the season.
"They're very well aware of it," Coughlin said when asked if he needed to remind his team about the game that ended the Giants' dismal 8-8 season. "We mentioned it at the conclusion of our postgame comments with the team (Sunday) night."
Last year, the Vikings had already secured a postseason berth and were looking ahead to the playoffs when they hosted the sinking Giants.
In that game, Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
"Let's just say we haven't forgotten what happened there," Giants right guard Chris Snee said. "We know what the final score was, and we know what happened in there. It's already been talked about. Let's leave it at that."
Unlike last year, the Giants may not know whom they will be facing at quarterback. Favre suffered a sprained shoulder in Minnesota's win over Buffalo last week, and there has been some question as to whether he'll play this weekend.
The Giants, however, plan to be prepared for both Favre and his backup, Tavaris Jackson.
"That'll cause some time to be spent in the preparation end and in practice time preparing for both quarterbacks," Coughlin said. "As the week unfolds, we'll have to do some things which will specialize or be more specific as far as which player we anticipate starting. We'll certainly take full awareness of what the similarities are and then what the differences are."
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield has played against Jackson before.
"He's a different animal with his athleticism and his ability to create plays with his feet and prolong plays with his feet," Cofield said.
In the end, no matter who starts for the Vikings at quarterback, the Giants' objective is simple: Play their brand of football and don't become too hung up on what Minnesota is trying to do.
If they do that, the Giants will not only get the revenge they seek against the 5-7 Vikings, they will also remain in control of their destiny for a playoff berth.
"We're just trying to keep up with everyone else," Snee said of the Giants' desire to win. "We want to win the division, so the only way to do that is to win out."
SERIES HISTORY: 22nd regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 13-8. The teams have also met three times in the postseason, most recently in the 2000 NFC Championship Game, which the Giants won 41-0. New York leads the postseason series 2-1. The teams have played each other in the regular season every year since 1999 with the exception of 2006.
The cavalry is coming for the injury-ridden Giants, who for the past few weeks have not been operating at full strength on offense, where they have missed LT David Diehl, C Shaun O'Hara and WRs Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.
This week, Diehl, Smith, and Nicks are on track to return to action, while Nicks and O'Hara will try to do some limited work to gauge where they are in their respective rehabs. If all goes well, the Giants could have all except for O'Hara back for this weekend's game against Minnesota.
Unlike the past, when the Giants were depleted by injuries at a particular unit, they were able to weather the storm this season.
During Diehl's absence, Will Beatty has held his own, aided by the chip blocking help from the backs and tight ends. His performance should go a long way toward assuaging any concerns the coaching staff might have had about the second-year player's stalled development earlier in the season.
Meanwhile at receiver, the Giants' passing game was able to get by thanks to the running game taking on some extra work, and of course the performances of Mario Manningham and Derek Hagan.
Still, the return of Smith and Nicks will give Eli Manning some options that he lost when Smith and nNicks went out of the lineup.
Although Smith has said he won't be at full strength the rest of the season, the good news is that he believes whatever protective equipment he chooses to wear should not be an issue in terms of his route-running or ability to make a reception.
Even better news for the Giants is that with key upcoming games against Philadelphia and Green Bay, two teams that, like the Giants, are jockeying for a playoff berth, the return of the injured starters couldn't be happening at a better time.
Giants motivated by Vikings blowout
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