EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul can’t remember the last time the New York Giants won four games in a row.
Fourth-year defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and third-year receiver Odell Beckham Jr. haven’t experienced the feeling of being in the postseason chase.
Victor Cruz knows the playoff feeling, but it’s been a while.
Halfway through the season, the Giants (5-3) are in the playoff hunt. They’ve won three straight and head into Monday’s night game against Bengals team that is desperate. Their five-year streak of making the playoffs is in danger.
While they beat Cleveland and tied Washington in their last two games, the Bengals (3-4-1) needed Washington to miss a 34-yard field goal late in overtime to avoid a loss in London on Oct. 30.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton knows this game takes on more importance coming out of the bye week.
“It’s big,” Dalton said. “It’s the start of the second half of the season. There’s a lot out there for us to go take. It’s the first opportunity in the second half to go take it. It’s important to get a fast start.”
The Giants just want to keep things going. They have not won four in a row since 2013 .
“That long?” Pierre-Paul said.
That was the year Hankins was drafted by the Giants. Beckham was taken the following season.
“This is the first time for me and I don’t want to think about it too much,” Hankins said. “We just have to continue doing what we are doing, taking one game at a time until we get to the point where we see who is in the playoffs and where we fall.”
This is new for Beckham, who has seen the Giants post 6-10 records the past two seasons despite his contributions.
“We have a great opportunity ahead of us,” Beckham said. “A position I haven’t been in since I’ve been here. It’s great to feel this way. It’s great to be 5-3 at the moment. You can’t sit here and be complacent with it.”
Cruz, who missed most of the last two seasons, is excited.
“It is starting to get into my belly a little bit now and it feels good, obviously, as a team to get into that mode,” he said “We just have to remember that it is still a long season.”
Some things to note for the nationally televised game:
JACKRABBIT VS. A.J.: Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkin, ‘Jackrabbit’ to his teammates, has gone against the opposition’s top receivers most of this season. That means he will likely travel with A.J. Green , who lead the NFL with 59 catches and is second with 896 yards receiving. The two were paired last year when the Rams, Jenkins’ old team, faced the Bengals and Green. He had two TD catches.
NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY: The Bengals are making a familiar trip. They opened the season with a 23-22 win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium. It’s only the second time in team history they’ve played two road games in the same stadium in the same season. They also made two trips to the Meadowlands in 2008.
The win over the Jets ended a streak of nine straight losses to the Jets on the road and marked their first win at the Meadowlands. They’re 0-3 at the Giants.
“Yeah, that’s weird,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “I’m expecting to go out there and see the green, but it’s going to be blue, so it’s kind of flip-flopping with your mind. But it will be cool.”
MONDAY NIGHT WOES: The Bengals played two Monday night games last season and lost both, leaving them 11-22 all-time on Monday nights. They’ve never played a New York team on Monday night. They beat Miami on Thursday night earlier this season, and have two more night games scheduled: hosting Pittsburgh on Sunday, Dec. 18, and playing at Houston on Christmas eve.
GIANTS LINE WOES: With left guard Justin Pugh likely to be sidelined for a month with a sprained right knee, the Giants are not saying whether Brett Jones replaces Pugh or they will make other moves. Bobby Hart, who has played right tackle since Marshall Newhouse was hurt in the second game of the season, could replace Pugh and allow Newhouse to return to right tackle. Whatever happens, the line needs to improve. The league’s worst running game has been held under 80 yards the past five games.
RING OF HONOR: The Giants will induct two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin, former general manager Ernie Accorsi and defensive lineman Justin Tuck into their Ring of Honor at halftime.