The New York Giants are making a comeback after their worst start in 37 years. So are their fans.
The average ticket resale price for the Giants’ home game against the Dallas Cowboys this week is almost $407, the eighth-highest in the National Football League this season, according to the ticket aggregator TiqIQ. It’s 120 percent above the average price for the Giants’ Oct. 21 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
That 23-7 victory at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, started a turnaround for the Giants, who are the second team in NFL history to win four straight games following an 0-6 start. They have moved within 1 1/2 games of the National Football Conference East lead, and the rebound has many of their fans backing up renewed optimism with their wallets.
“Five weeks ago, this wouldn’t have been the case,” TiqIQ spokesman Chris Matcovich said in an e-mail. “But with the East being very weak and the Giants having a legit chance of winning the division if they can get a win Sunday, it’s not surprising that this rivalry game is a hot ticket.”
At 4-6, the Giants are one game behind the Cowboys (5-5), who are a half-game behind the first-place Philadelphia Eagles in the division. No NFL division leader has a worse record than the 6-5 Eagles.
“When I came in, I said, ‘Wow, there’s so much talent everywhere. Why are we 0-6?’” said Giants linebacker Jon Beason, who was acquired from Carolina on Oct. 4. “And you sit back, evaluate and you figure out -- let’s start over because the pieces are there. That’s what guys have done.”
The Giants, listed by the Las Vegas Hotel’s SuperBook as 2 1/2-point favorites against Dallas, haven’t given up a passing touchdown during their winning streak. It’s the team’s longest such run since 1996, when it went five straight games without allowing a passing score, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
The Giants’ defense ranked 26th out of the NFL’s 32 teams in yards allowed after the 0-6 start. It’s now 11th. In their four wins, the opposing quarterbacks were third-stringer Scott Tolzien of the Green Bay Packers, Terrelle Pryor of the Oakland Raiders, third-stringer Matt Barkley of the Eagles after Michael Vick aggravated a hamstring injury, and Josh Freeman, who started for the Vikings two weeks after being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Giants this week face Tony Romo and a Cowboys’ offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in scoring at 27.4 points a game.
“It’s going to be a really good test for this defense that’s been playing particularly well recently,” said Eric Allen, a former Pro Bowl cornerback who’s now an ESPN analyst.
Romo has 12 touchdown passes in his last four starts against the Giants. In the Week 1 meeting between the teams in Dallas, Romo threw for two touchdowns to Jason Witten, and the Cowboys had two defensive scores in a 36-31 win.
The Giants finish the season after this week with a stretch that includes two games against Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and one each against Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks (10-1), Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers (4-6) and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (6-4).
“Defensively they’ve really amped up the pressure, but these next six weeks they’re facing superstar quarterbacks, so we’ll see if the Giants are for real,” Allen said.
Giants fans are optimistic, if ticket prices for the Cowboys’ game are an accurate indication, exceeding even this week’s Sunday night game between the Denver Broncos (9-1) and New England Patriots (7-3) in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Seats for that game, which is a matchup of division leaders and All-Pro quarterbacks in Denver’s Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady, are selling for an average of $402, according to TiqIQ. The Broncos are 2 1/2-point favorites.
The Giants, with Eli Manning at quarterback, actually have a longer current winning streak than the Broncos and are seeking to join the 2009 Tennessee Titans as the only NFL teams to win five games in a row following an 0-6 start. The Titans that year finished 8-8 and missed the postseason.
No team has reached the playoffs after opening the season with more than four losses in a row.
“We recognized our issues and our problems,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters this week. “The captains, the veteran players that have experienced some great results here, those are the guys that have held this thing together, try to solve our problems and to stay as one. I’m not saying that it’s easy, but that’s what had to happen and it did happen.”