Two years, the New York Giants looked like a team ready to take a dive in the standings. They started off losing their first two games, rebounded to win six in a row, then finished out the season losing two of their last three.
And then they went on to win the Super Bowl.
On Sunday, the Vikings will be playing the Giants and trying to regain confidence heading into the playoffs.
"A couple years ago, everyone had written those guys off, probably including themselves. (The Packers) had played them earlier in the year. I think it was the second or third game of the year, played them in New York," said QB Brett Favre, who was in his final season in Green Bay. "If you would have told me after that game first of all that the Giants would have made the playoffs, I would have said, ‘You're crazy.' Second of all, if they would have made it to the Super Bowl, we would have had you admitted."
The Packers smoked the Giants 35-13 in the second game of the season at New York. Not only did the Giants go on to a 17-14 Super Bowl win, but they defeated the Packers 23-20 in Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.
"Something happened, something changed," Favre said of the Giants' turnaround that year. "I don't know when that moment was, I don't know what triggered it."
Whatever it was, the Vikings are hoping to capture it as the playoffs approach. In 2007, the Giants finished 10-6 and were three games behind their division leader, the Dallas Cowboys. Right now, the Vikings are 11-4 but have already won the NFC North.
So what happened to the Giants then? They won a crucial late-season game and got something going.
"We did start a little something there once we got going. We did had to have that key win in (Buffalo), that goal-line stand, the second half playing the way we felt we were capable of playing just to get us going," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on a conference call to Minnesota reporters on Wednesday. "And then even in the second half there were ups and downs and it seems like there always are in the NFL. You just have to stay the course."
The Giants used two big quarters in that Dec. 23 game. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, they put up 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. After the Bills took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter, the Giants responded with 21 points in the fourth quarter for a 38-21 win.
Despite losing 38-35 to New England in the regular-season finale, the Giants went on to a 24-14 win at Tampa Bay in the wild card round, a 21-17 win at Dallas in the divisional round, 23-20 at Green Bay in the NFC Championship and 17-14 over New England in Super Bowl XLII.
Favre said players-only meetings can be overdone. But he knows that the Giants got on a roll back in the 2007 playoffs and wants to see the same thing happen with his team.
"Something happened. They played together, started hitting on all cylinders. Their record was OK (10-6), but it was just enough to get them in. The rest was history," Favre said. "We obviously up until a couple weeks ago had been hitting on all cylinders for the most part and we had won several close games. I think we have to go back and just think back to those times. It's not so much what other teams are doing as it is what we're not doing. It would be easy to push the panic button and point fingers and all those things.
"The fact is, we're in. We need to play better or we'll be out rather quickly. If we can put together a good game this week, have a little confidence, then that's really what it's about – confident, feeling good – that's the peak. That's what you look for.
Despite the Vikings losing their last two and three of their last four, Coughlin doesn't see a losing team in Minnesota.
"There isn't any doubt about the quality of their team and their players. At so many points they are playing very, very well," Coughlin said. "They certainly got an outstanding effort from Carolina and then the Bears, there is nothing surprising about a divisional rival game. That was an outstanding second half, but they just weren't able to get it done."
Favre still has confidence the Vikings can get on a streak.
"We know we can win. We have done it and there's not a lot that needs to be said," he said. "Either you do it or you're going to be out, so we'll see."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.