Giants Go From Finished to N.F.C. Front-Runners

Tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the N.F.C., the Giants (5-2) were left for dead in September after two lopsided losses. Now, after their leadership was questioned, they have won four consecutive games, and their defense has left five quarterbacks — Carolina’s Matt Moore, Detroit’s Shaun Hill, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Todd Collins and the latest, Tony Romo — strewn on the sidelines.

“You just stay positive during a bye week,” Coach said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “This is a positive situation for us.”

Meanwhile, the preseason conference favorites have not done much to stake their claim to a conference title.

The high-payroll, low-morale Cowboys (1-5) are unlikely to make the playoffs.

The (4-3), the defending champions, were shocked by the (2-5) at home and will host the (5-1) on Sunday.

The (4-3) have tallied three of their wins by 7 points or les.

Like the injured , the (2-4) are limping through their schedule. They will play the 5-1 on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

Asked if the Giants were the best team in the N.F.C., Coughlin said: “Where we are right now is we’re 5-2. We have as many wins as anyone in the N.F.C. We are in position now where we lead our division. No more, no less.”

The lasting image of the Giants’ 41-35 romp Monday was Romo sprawled out in the second quarter. Linebacker Michael Boley planted Romo, and the Cowboys’ season, into the synthetic turf with a ferocious hit that left Romo with a broken left clavicle that will sideline him six to eight weeks.

“You prepare yourself and realize the pressure on the quarterback is extremely important to the way the game is played,” Coughlin said. “Most people in this league have quality, quality backups that are in a position when they come in a game to contribute, but let’s face it, the starting quarterback is the starting quarterback for a reason.”

The Giants’ only room for complaint this season on offense has been their proclivity to turn the ball over. has thrown an -high 11 interceptions, 7 tipping off the hands of receivers. Against the Cowboys, he threw three, two of which were deflected. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs lost fumbles.

“It is an awareness thing,” Coughlin said. “It is something that nobody harps upon more than we do.”

While the turnovers pockmarked an otherwise sterling performance, there was not much that Coughlin could be displeased over. He said the bye week would give the Giants time to heal their bumps and bruises and to assess themselves relative to the rest of the league.

While the Giants are looking like the class of the conference, Coughlin said that they have not yet played to their potential.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the way in which we continue to prepare and practice and our attitude about these things and the amount of focus we can put into a day’s work,” Coughlin said. “If we maintain a good solid attitude, a humbleness, a recognition of the hard work we have to put in to put ourselves in position to win, then we can go forth and play our best football in front of us.”

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