Entering Christmas Eve, the New York Giants had just lost for a second time to the Redskins, were 7-7 and were about to play the Jets with the strong possibility of missing the playoffs.
Jobs were potentially on the line, and Tom Coughlin might've been on thin ice had the Giants lost to Rex Ryan's Jets and sat out the playoffs for a third straight year.
But the Giants proceeded to go on a magical run that ended with their fourth Super Bowl title.
Coughlin went from hot seat to a seat on a parade float; Eli Manning went from a 25-interception quarterback in 2010 to two-time Super Bowl MVP; and the Giants went from mediocrity to world champions.
Here's the 2011-12 report card for the Super Bowl champion Giants.
Giants postseason awards
Offensive MVP: QB Eli Manning. Clutch, tough, elite and now a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Defensive MVP: DE Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP did it all, sacking QBs and even blocking a field goal.
Special-teams MVP: P Steve Weatherford. The punting game went from a weakness to a weapon.
Most improved: WR Victor Cruz. Went from an unknown to a record-breaking receiver.
Least improved: RB Brandon Jacobs. He was supposed to get more carries but the running game struggled.
Biggest surprise: Cruz and LB Chase Blackburn. Blackburn went from his couch to notching a Super Bowl INT.
Biggest disappointment: TE Travis Beckum. Underused Beckum received few targets even with Kevin Boss gone.
Best rookie: LB Jacquian Williams. He impressed with his speed and had a big forced fumble in San Francisco.
Best offseason acquisition: Weatherford/OL Kevin Boothe. Boothe started at C and LG.
Worst offseason acquisition: TE Ben Patrick. He left the team shortly after being signed to help replace Boss.
Best-kept secret: TE Christian Hopkins. Jerry Reese raved about this practice squad player as the next unknown to potentially emerge.
Best coaching move: Perry Fewell cleaning up communication breakdowns and playing Blackburn.
Biggest concern: The salary cap. The Giants have 21 free agents and players who want raises such as Cruz and Osi Umenyiora.
Key to the offseason: The Giants have to fortify their offensive line, their running game and their return game.
Player ready to emerge next season: Linval Joseph. Joseph had a solid first year as a starter with room to improve.
Least likely to return next season: Mario Manningham. Not because the Giants don't want him but they might not be able to afford him after the Super Bowl.