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Giants finally playing a big game; their head coach Brian Daboll knows about far bigger ones 9/26/2022 Bob Brookover,

Brian Daboll doesn’t just know about big games; he knows about the biggest of games. He has a championship ring collection so large that one hand is not enough for all of them.

He was an assistant coach when the New England Patriots won their first five Super Bowls under Bill Belichick. He was the offensive coordinator when Tua Tagovailoa relieved Jalen Hurts and rallied Alabama to its fifth national title under head coach Nick Saban in 2018.


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The Giants, at least the overwhelming majority of the ones on the current roster, know very little about big games.

Third-year safety Xavier McKinney, one of the Giants’ defensive captains and a huge reason for the team’s first 2-0 start since 2016, was asked Saturday if he considered Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys the biggest of his career.

“My rookie year, we played the Cowboys and it was the same thing,” McKinney said. “Either we won and we (had a chance to make) the playoffs or we lost and we didn’t.”

To their credit, the Giants beat the Cowboys, 23-19, that afternoon at MetLife Stadium, but it will not go down as one of the seminal moments in franchise history. The win ended the Giants’ three-game losing streak and allowed them to get to 6-10, which would have been the worst record for any playoff team in NFL history. Instead, the Eagles, after removing Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter, lost to Washington later that night, eliminating the Giants from playoff contention.

After considering the absurd circumstances involving the NFC East two seasons ago, McKinney admitted that Monday night’s game against the Cowboys might just be the biggest of his three-year career with the Giants.

“This feels even more like a big game because our record is 2-0, so I know the fans will be pumped,” McKinney said. “Obviously, we’re excited. It’s going to be one of the biggest ones we’ve had in a few years.”

This fact accentuates that point: Wide receiver Sterling Shepard is the only member of the current roster ever to participate in a playoff game in a Giants uniform.

Consider this too: Before this season, the Giants were a combined 6-26 through the first eight games of each of Saquon Barkley’s first four seasons with the team.

And there’s this: Daboll has been a coach in 22 NFL playoff victories and two college football playoff wins for a total of 24 postseason victories. The Giants’ roster has 11 players who have participated in a total of 24 playoff victories, all with other teams.

One more: Daboll’s five Super Bowl rings are three more than the total won by all the players on his active 53-man roster. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a championship ring from nine seasons ago when he was Joe Flacco’s backup with the Baltimore team that beat San Francisco in the Harbaugh Super Bowl. Tight end Tanner Hudson is the other Giants player with a ring. He was part of the Tampa Bay team that won two years ago.

Given the dark recent history, there is a ton of reasons for the Giants and their fans to have an extra jolt of adrenaline for this primetime game against the Cowboys.

“This is the position we want to be in,” McKinney said. “Obviously it’s always good to have a start like this, but now we have to keep improving and make sure we go out there and play well.”

There is a sense inside the locker room that something is different about this Giants’ team. For starters, they have two wins after two games. That matches the highest total they had after eight games in every season since 2016.

“From the jump this year, we have only worried about what is going on inside our building,” McKinney said. “We know that everybody we have in this building is capable. For us, it has been the next-man-up mentality. We know we have great leaders and great starters who help the guys behind them to make sure if they do get their name called that they will be ready to go out there and play.”

They also have a different head coach. One who knows about playing in the biggest games.

So what does Brian Daboll think about this Monday night matchup that could take the Giants to 3-0 in his first season?

“Well, it’s the early part of the regular season, so our focus is on what we can do better,” Daboll said. “It’s always cool to play on Monday night, a division game, but it’s the next one right now and the early part of the season is where we’re at.”

That’s a wise and true assessment of things. But Daboll will just have to forgive the fans dressed in white at MetLife Stadium if they are overly excited about a Week 3 football game. They’ve waited far too long for a game of this magnitude even in this early stage of the season.

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