By Ernie Palladino
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The image is still sharp, and oh, so painful.

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Victor Cruz, in the back of the Lincoln Financial Field end zone, leaping, then falling, then crumpling and grabbing the right knee that blew apart on the incompletion.

It was a heartrending scene, made even more so in its aftermath. Not only were the Giants deprived of their best pass receiver on that third-quarter play on Oct. 12, 2014, but it ruined what well could have turned into the NFL’s best receiving combination. Instead, Cruz and Odell Beckham played just one game together.

The number remains static.

The Giants still wait for Cruz’ return, only this time it’s a troublesome left calf, not the original right patellar tendon that surgeons stitched back together. And now, as they head into Philadelphia for Monday night’s game, they could well have to operate without their current receiving star, Beckham, due to the hamstring he yanked last week against San Francisco.

Life has a funny way of repeating itself. At least that one challenge — finding a way to get the ball downfield — becomes the same now as it was then. No Cruz then, at best a hobbled Beckham now. Regardless, the Giants must make sure the final result changes.

They lost that game a year ago 27-0 and with it, eventually, their season. After heading into the Linc at 3-2, they went on to lose the next seven straight starting with that one. It wasn’t just the Cruz issue, or the emotional toll it took on the squad. The offense was still adapting to first-year coordinator Ben McAdoo’s scheme, and the defense had problems of its own.

Switch to the present. The Giants are 3-2, alone atop the NFC East. They have won three straight, just like then, and have a chance to gain a little more separation from a division opponent.

They must find a way to win. Only, it’s unlikely Eli Manning will have his greatest weapon, Beckham. The wide receiver missed an entire week of practice. Rueben Randle tries, but at his best he is no replacement for the Giants’ electric star. Besides, he, too, is coming off a significant hamstring injury from last week and worked only in limited capacity this week.

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Besides that, there are the defensive injuries. Prince Amukamara, their best cornerback this year, is out from two to four weeks with a partially torn pectoral muscle. Linebacker Devon Kennard won’t be there because of a bad hamstring. Middle linebacker Jon Beason’s concussion may linger enough to limit his workload, if he takes any snaps at all.

Jason Pierre-Paul and his mangled hand don’t even merit an afterthought now. That July 4 fireworks accident turned him into a non-factor, a player written off.

Still, none of this helps a pass rush that doesn’t get home nearly enough.

Cruz’s injury sunk the Giants’ season last year, even as Beckham rose to unanticipated heights.

Health again threatens this game, and by extension, the season.

The Giants must find a way to overcome.

It is not impossible. It takes grit and heart. Like last week, it takes the secondary actors to step to center stage — the Larry Donnells and Dwayne Harrises. It takes a Beckham to talk his way back into the game and draw a key pass interference. It may take Jayron Hosley picking off Sam Bradford to cancel an Eagles drive.

The Giants know the Linc as the place that started the fall to 6-10 last year.

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As similar as the situation is now, they must turn that Eagles nest into the place where the rise to success took deep root.