The Eagles won in Minnesota, true, and there is an illusion that they stopped the running game. Actually, the Vikings had12 runs of 5 yards or more, nine of them in the first half.
So, no, they did not exactly contain the power and speed of the Vikes' running game, which gained 131 yards. Rather, they loaded up to stop it . . . then they embarrassed green quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, on whom the Vikings, inexplicably, leaned way too much as the game progressed. Jackson finished with a 45.4 passer rating.
Eli Manning is at 77.8 in his two games this season against the Eagles, and he's a Super Bowl MVP, not a first-time playoff starter.
For the Eagles, this reality is a huge problem.
So is this: Fred Robbins likely will be close to full strength.
He's the defensive tackle whom Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, in November, cited as the reason why the Giants' defensive line was spectacular at that point. "The guy who really stands out on film who's truly been playing really well this year is Robbins," McNabb said then.
Robbins might be the Giants' most valuable player, or, at least, their most valuable defender. Robbins was healthy in the Giants' Nov. 9 win when the Giants limited the Eagles' running backs to 47 yards on 15 carries.
In the rematch, Robbins played with a shoulder joint injury that cost him the game that preceded the Eagles game. It also cost him the game that followed it. With Robbins limited, Eagles running backs collected 133 yards on 34 carries.
Coughlin on Monday would not hint at how healthy Jacobs and Robbins are: "They seem to be doing OK," was as much as he would give.
Their teammates seem to believe the pair will be near full potency.
"Come Wednesday, I am pretty sure everybody on our team will be able to practice," said linebacker Antonio Pierce.
Well, almost everybody.
Say what you like about the Giants' numbskull wideout, but, in November, Plaxico Burress was present and relatively healthy. He caught his seventh touchdown in his last eight games against Eagles.
Fast forward to the rematch . . . and the fallout from the Gloxico fiasco.
Burress missed his second straight game after shooting himself in the leg with his Glock in a Manhattan nightclub. This episode stunned the Giants. They played like a team in disarray.
Pierce, who aided Burress after the incident, was being investigated by New York cops. The Giants were getting ready to fine, suspend and withhold a bonus from Burress.
Before Burress shot himself, the Giants won five straight games against teams that wound up in the playoffs.
Afterward, they lost three of their last five. They failed to score at least 20 points in any of those losses.
Distractions aside, Burress' marquee presence is enormous for the underwhelming passing game. Even when Burress doesn't catch a pass, or when he's hobbled (as he was much of the season), he's still New York's top big-play threat. He commands attention.
No one knows that better than the Eagles, the team against which Burress has enjoyed the most success in his first three seasons as a Giant.
So, yes, Burress' absence mattered in December against the Eagles. It mattered for the last month of the season, when Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
It might matter less now.
Amani Toomer's resurgence and Domenik Hixon's continued emergence, plus a healthier tight end Kevin Boss (ankle), could serve to supply the Giants with a viable air attack.
"I don't think anybody on this team is concerned with, 'Hey, can I make the same plays Plaxico made?' '' said center Shaun O'Hara. "I don't think we have anybody that is trying to fill Plaxico's shoes."
That's because they know no one can.
Ditto Jacobs, and Robbins.
But at least that pair should be back to their old selves. *