Mathias Kiwanuka knows there are different kinds of wins.
There are the ones in which you make mistakes and are lucky to come away with a victory. There are the ones in which you steamroll an opponent in a laugher. And then there are the ones like this one, which just feel as if they will mean something down the road.
"When you are down and you have to come back and everybody has to pull together and you can look in everybody's eyes and see that no one is down, no one doubts, everyone is fighting and everyone believes in it,'' Kiwanuka said. "Those kinds of things can give you momentum to go throughout the season.''
After only five weeks, there's no telling where the Giants are headed in 2014. But Sunday's 30-20 win over the Falcons -- in which the Giants scored the final 20 points, getting touchdowns by rookies Odell Beckham Jr. and Andre Williams -- certainly had players who have been to the summit feeling as if they can return.
"This,'' Kiwanuka said, "is a championship-caliber team.''
Asked what the come-from-behind win says about the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul said: "It says we've got a great team. That's it. We've got a great team and we're going to continue winning.''
The Giants are 3-2, their first time above .500 since the end of the 2012 season. They remain a game behind the Eagles and Cowboys, who happen to be their next two opponents on the road.
"That's going to set us right in the driver's seat,'' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said confidently of the two-game stretch. "We're right where we want to be . . . You go in there and get a win and take a bye week, relax, and then hit the ground running.''
There may have been a little too much relax in the Giants in the first half of this game. After a 10-day mini-bye following their blowout victory in Washington, they seemed to be on their heels. They trailed 13-10 at halftime, then allowed a 74-yard touchdown catch-and-run by running back Antone Smith, who broke a tackle attempt by Antrel Rolle and sprinted down the sideline in front of the Giants' bench.
The Giants were down 20-10 against the league's top-ranked offense. Their most productive offensive player, running back Rashad Jennings, was sidelined with a knee injury. Their best cornerback, Rodgers-Cromartie, was going in and out of the game with an ankle injury. And then . . .
"The fourth quarter was ours,'' Tom Coughlin said. "We won a game that was a most difficult game to come back and win.''
The comeback started late in the third quarter. Beckham drew a key 26-yard pass-interference penalty to spark an 81-yard drive that ended with Williams running 3 yards into the end zone and over linebacker Paul Worrilow.
After a three-and-out by the Falcons (2-3), the Giants drove for the go-ahead points on Eli Manning's 15-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Beckham.
"I was proud of the guys,'' Manning said. "No one started getting uptight or getting worried. Everyone knew we would eventually start making some plays and getting things going, and guys made some big plays for us in some clutch moments.''
Two field goals by Josh Brown, including a 50-yarder, and a sack of Matt Ryan by Johnathan Hankins on fourth-and-1 sealed the win.
"Besides my big play, I think we played lights out,'' Rolle said of the second half. "Offensively, defensively and special teams, I think we did a phenomenal job.''
The Giants are certainly on a roll. They have scored at least 30 points in three straight games for the first time since 2009. Manning has posted a passer rating of more than 100 for three straight games for the first time since 2010. Their next two games could determine whether they can keep pace with the Eagles and Cowboys in the standings and perhaps do something for the first time since 2011.
"We just gotta beat them,'' Pierre-Paul said of the upcoming division opponents. "We just gotta beat them, that's it.''
If they do, and keep going, this win might be the one the Giants point to in February as the first glimpse of their championship mettle.