The New York Giants haven't lost in a month. They've been on one long, hard jam session in Bruce Springsteen's neighborhood, using a cornerback named Elvis and lyrics by rookie running back George Adams, who keeps saying, "We're just trying to turn the boos to oohs."
So far, the Giants have 7 oohs and 3 boos. They are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC Eastern Division and will play the Redskins at RFK Stadium Monday night.
The Giants have won four straight. It's their first four-game victory streak in the regular season since 1979 when rookie coach Ray Perkins led them to nowhere in particular (6-10).
"People say that we've got maturity now," says quarterback Phil Simms. "I say that we've got talent."
Then again, people say a lot of things about the Giants. They say running back Joe Morris (624 yards) is a fumbler, but Morris just happens to be on a pace to become the second Giants player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, joining Ron Johnson, who did it twice (in 1970 and 1972).
People said all-pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor had faded into a megabucks dreamworld -- right before he wrecked the Redskins with a game-high 11 unassisted tackles, including two sacks in a 17-3 victory a month ago.
Defensive end Casey Merrill says, "Last year, we swept Dallas and they were called upsets. We beat Washington once and it was called an upset. We kind of backed into the playoffs last year as a wild card (team). This year we want to win the (division) title outright.
"(Coach) Bill Parcells has molded a team of fighters. Now, we expect to win."
These fighters come in different shapes and sizes. First, there is Simms, who in his sixth professional season is completing a career-high 56 percent of his passes. Then, there is defensive end Leonard Marshall, who has a league-high 12.5 quarterback sacks. His pass-rush pressure has been a bonus that goes far beyond expectations
There is whippet receiver Lionel Manuel, who is merely on a 68-catch/1,200-yard pace for the season. There is punter Sean Landeta, a former U.S. Football League player, who is averaging 45 yards per punt while seemingly ricocheting balls off orbiting satellites.
And how about Phil McConkey, the former Naval Academy star who later flew helicopters over the Mediterranean? He's a slippery sort who is averaging 10 yards per punt return, with his own fleet of game-turning plays.
"It's just a feeling, an atmosphere around here," McConkey said following Sunday's 24-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. "There is no quit in this team."
It would have been easy to imagine the Giants coming to RFK Stadium with a tattered psyche.
After all, not only have they lost three games this season, but two were lost by letting fourth-quarter leads slip away (to Green Bay and Dallas) and the third was lost even though Simms passed for a team-record 513 yards (Cincinnati).
They have endured the absence of all-pro cornerback Mark Haynes, a contract holdout for eight weeks who then returned just in time to pull a hamstring muscle. He has been replaced by Elvis Patterson, who merely intercepted a deflected pass by Philadelphia's Ron Jaworski and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown, providing an abrupt end to a 16-10 overtime victory in Week 4.
The Giants have endured the loss of tight end Zeke Mowatt, out for the season with an injury. He's been replaced by rookie Mark Bavaro, who happened to catch 12 passes for 176 yards against the Bengals.
The Giants have also endured a bizarre kicking situation. They have used three field goal kickers in 10 weeks. The most shocking thing is that they seem to have come out of it in better condition than they began.
Nothing comes easy to these Giants. Not many teams can show a first-place preen when they have a minus-6 turnover differential.
In truth, what has transpired since the Giants last appeared in the league title game, in the 1963 season, is enough to give the franchise a supreme inferiority complex. The Giants' overall record since then is 111-189-5.
"(But) a lot of us weren't here through the trials and tribulations of the New York Giants," said McConkey, 28. "We weren't here for the so-called 'years past.' "