How Giants’ last London trip built best possible launching pad

How Giants’ last London trip built best possible launching pad

The last time the Giants played in London was in 2007. If that year doesn’t ring a bell, you’re not a true Giants fan. That’s the year the Giants won their first Super Bowl under Tom Coughlin. The Giants beat the winless Dolphins, 13-10, in front of 81,176 fans on that wet, muddy October day at Wembley Stadium to improve to 6-2 and become the first NFL team to win a regular-season game outside of North America. A little more than three months later, the Giants would credit that international experience for building them into the team that would upset the previously unbeaten Patriots to capture Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. The Giants weren’t awed by the travel and the attention they received at the Super Bowl after experiencing what was then a high-profile game against the Dolphins. “The adjustments that we made, the accommodations we made for the media, the playing of the game with such worldwide interest, all those things were positives,” Coughlin said in comparing the trip to London to Super Bowl week. It was also a bonding experience that helped the Giants become one of the league’s best road teams that season. After beating the Dolphins, they won eight straight games away from MetLife Stadium, including the Super Bowl. Eli Manning runs in a touchdown against the Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in 2007.Photo: AFP/Getty Images “At the time it was fun,” quarterback Eli Manning said Tuesday. “It was fun to go over there in ’07 and hang out and go to dinner on Friday night and have a good bit of time to be with the players. You also saw guys rallying and getting on the same page trying to get ready, putting in more study time with each other. It’s good to have that away trip and see what a team is made of when circumstances change and the schedule changes and how can we adapt and still play at a high level.” The Giants (3-3) will have some extensive bonding time this week when they travel to London for the game against the Rams (3-3). The Giants will leave Thursday night and practice Friday and Saturday in London before playing at 9:30 a.m. EDT Sunday. Manning said it took a while for the players to adjust to the time change in ’07. “Last time we went right on to the field and it was not a pretty practice,” he said. “Guys didn’t know where they were, what was going on or what country they were in. Brandon Jacobs wanted to go see the Eiffel Tower. We’ll just have to rally and grind through that first day and make sure guys get prepared and get caught up.” The 2016 Giants have a long way to go before they’ll be compared to the ’07 team led by Michael Strahan, Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress. They were road warriors who earned a wild-card berth and won at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay before ruining the Patriots’ unbeaten season. But they also weren’t very impressive in London. Playing in cold, rain and mud on a torn-up pitch, Manning completed just 8 of 22 for 59 yards. Jacobs carried the offense rushing for 131 yards. But like the ’07 team, there is plenty of time for the ’16 Giants to improve. “We have to win the second half of the season,” Manning said. “We’re getting to the midpoint. We need our young guys to step up. The rookies aren’t really rookies anymore. They’ve played a lot of football and the vets need to do their part. We have to make sure we’re getting better. We can’t be content from where we stand. We’ve got to make progress. We have to raise our level of play and find a way to win games.” As Manning put it, “Last time was good practice.”

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