By Ernie Palladino
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One of the last views the Patriots had of the Giants was Mario Manningham streaking down the Lucas Oil Stadium sideline for the 38-yard catch that set up Ahmad Bradshaw’s 6-yard, Lombardi Trophy-winning touchdown run in Super Bowl XLVI.

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Seeing it from the Giants’ current vantage point, that victory seems light years away. As the Pats come into MetLife Stadium Sunday at 8-0, certainly not an atypical record for them, the 5-4 Giants sit on the cusp of turning around their fortunes since that second Super Bowl win in the Tom Coughlin era.

If the Giants are ever going to put together a “game of the year” effort, this would be a great time to do it.

They haven’t had one of those in a while. Except for the handful of folks who have taken up residence in a cave, everyone knows that the three seasons since 2011 have been anything but fulfilling. No playoffs, two straight outright losers and a 9-7 mark in 2012 which qualified them for nothing except an early baggie day.

So, with a bye week coming up, with all its inherent benefits of physical rest and emotional relaxation, getting a nice, shiny win against Bill Belichick’s undefeated squad would certainly add a few more PSI of oxygen to Coughlin’s muddy group. Or at least for the ones who remain on two feet, a typically ever-shrinking club given MLB Jon Beason’s and DT Jonathan Hankins’ recent moves to injured reserve.

Note that those moves came on defense, a unit that could ill-afford to lose personnel considering the season-long issues it’s had stopping opponents. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo undoubtedly has worked overtime to come up with something to at least hold down an offense that has scored in the 20s only twice this season. And no, the other six games haven’t ended with little scores.

Forty against Buffalo.

Fifty-one against Jacksonville.

Thirty against Dallas.

Thirty-four against Indianapolis.

Thirty against the Jets.

Thirty-six against Miami.

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Those are numbers the Giants’ offense only dreams about. They hit 32 last week against Tampa Bay, but that was only because Trevin Wade returned a fumbled razzle-dazzle play for a touchdown as the clock ran out. If there was ever a time for Eli Manning to repeat his six-touchdown performance in New Orleans, this would be the game.

Teams just don’t beat the Patriots and Tom Brady with 28 points.

Unless, of course, Spagnuolo finds a chunk or two of kryptonite to vanquish the whole Brady-Rob Gronkowski-Julian Edelman Axis of Terror the Pats have going on.

It’s not impossible. Spagnuolo has done it before, in his first go-around with the Giants. His scheme was the one that ruined Brady and company’s bid for undefeated history in Super Bowl XLII. Well, that and David Tyree’s helmet. But then, Spagnuolo did have Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Antonio Pierce leading the way.

Now he has to try it with a nine-fingered Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers, Jr., and some kids — Kerry Wynn, Devon Kennard and Landon Collins.

Not exactly the ‘85 Bears, right?

Still, stranger things have happened.

A fumble? A pick? A sack?

One break may be all the defense needs.

Then, it’s up to Manning, Odell Beckham, Jr., and a backfield whose four-player rotation numbers more like a Senate subcommittee than any coherent rushing unit.

But this is what the Giants have. They’ve had less this season, and they’ve still won more than they’ve lost.

If they make it ugly enough on defense, and pretty enough on offense, they might just have a chance.

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It’s not impossible. They just need to play the game of the year.