Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fall from Grace

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fall from Grace

Article excerpt

A year ago, it was easy for the Giants to enjoy Christmas.

They were basking in a 29-14 Christmas Eve triumph over the Jets that put them in position to win the NFC East the following week against the Cowboys and began a run of six consecutive victories that culminated with their Super Bowl XLVI win over the Patriots.

This year, their Christmas joy will have to come from outside football. A lopsided 33-14 loss in Baltimore on Sunday left their playoff hopes and aspirations to repeat as Super Bowl champions on life support.

Even after losing, 34-0, in Atlanta on Dec. 16, the Giants (8-7) still would have been guaranteed at least a wild-card playoff spot if they won their last two games. Now, even if they find a way to beat the playing-out-the-string Eagles (4-11) in their regular- season finale Sunday at MetLife Stadium, they'll need a ton of help. In addition to a win over Philadelphia, the Giants need Washington to defeat or tie Dallas, Green Bay to defeat Minnesota and Detroit to beat Chicago to get a wild-card spot.

"This certainly is adversity, this certainly is a difficult time for us, but we're going to fight and we're going to do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Philadelphia," Giants coach Tom Coughlin vowed Monday on a conference call with the media.

Their psyche clearly fragile after consecutive blowout losses, the Giants say their focus this week is solely on trying to beat the Eagles. It won't matter if the other three games go their way if they can't do that.

"I guarantee you the worst feeling you can have is if all those teams lose and we don't handle our business and we lose," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Hey, you never know what can happen. It's a crazy game, it's a crazy sport and obviously the scenario is very possible. It's not like a bunch of huge upsets have to happen."

Still, the Giants know the writing is on the wall. They are not playing like a team worthy of being in the playoffs or going anywhere if they do slip in.

A team that found a way to flip the switch at this time last year has come up empty this time. The Giants have lost five of seven since opening the season 6-2 and appearing in complete control in the NFC East, but the last two weeks have been particularly ugly offensively and defensively. …

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