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Coughlin and the Giants recognize the advantages to earning a bye, but also know going all the way hardly is impossible when you have to play four postseason games. Hey, they did it in 2007 as a wild card, just as the Steelers did in 2005 and the Packers last year.
Coughlin even sounds as if he doesn't particularly mind playing this week while four other teams await the winners.
"I'll tell you what, it's exciting. When you're sitting there late at night, it's exciting," he said.
New York hasn't won a postseason game since stunning undefeated New England for the 2007 championship. Atlanta has fallen in both of its playoff games since Matt Ryan took over as quarterback, including a 48-21 home rout at the hands of Green Bay a year ago -- as the NFC's top seed.
Star receiver Roddy White understands the need for excitement, but also the need to temper it a bit.
"Absolutely. When you get into playoff football, you've got to be focused, locked in, tuned in," White said. "You can't go out there and make mental mistakes because any play can be the play. Everything has to be tight.
"Everybody is going to be moving a little bit faster, running a little bit faster. It makes the tempo faster. The mental aspect of the game has to be right, because if it's not, that's how you get beat."
Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez, who holds nearly every career record for tight ends, is 0-4 in the postseason. He's not just looking for one win, but an even higher level of exhilaration.
"It would mean a lot to me, but at the same time, that's not our goal," Gonzalez said. "After the game if we're fortunate to win, don't expect me to be elated. Ask me after the Super Bowl. That's where I'll be truly excited. The goal is not to win a playoff game; it's about winning a couple of playoff games."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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