EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The long-range goal the Giants had at the start of the season of winning the NFC East is no longer obtainable. It expired last night, when the Giants surrendered a late lead and lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-28, in MetLife Stadium.
With six consecutive losses and a 3-8 record, the best the Giants can do is finish. 500. So that's what they will attempt to do. Their weekly objective won't change when they play their final five games of the season, beginning Sunday in Jacksonville. The Giants are certain to finish with their first back-to-back non-winning seasons in 10 years, but they remain fixated on the here and now and are not planning for the future.
"The goal is to win, to win a game," coach Tom Coughlin said today. "That's what we've been talking about for quite some time. Two of the last three have been extremely competitive for four quarters, one was for three quarters. That's all fine and dandy, but the bottom line is what everybody seeks and that's exactly where we are. We'll do everything in our power to focus on and be goal-oriented about winning when we travel to Jacksonville this weekend."
To the players, long-term thinking encompasses only the final five games. They have no reason
or inclination to concern themselves with 2015.
"I think everybody wants to win," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Everybody wants to get that feeling back. I have seen that these last few weeks, we haven't got discouraged, it is frustrating. Everybody is disappointed today that we didn't get that win. We didn't make every play we needed to get that win and left some plays out there on the field. I think guys understand every game is important, everything you are doing is important. You never play for next year. Right now, we are playing for this year, playing for right now. That is the mindset. I think you just have to understand that it is not too late to get on a hot streak and feel good about what we are doing."
"The record right now is not the most important thing," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The most important thing is playing every game lights out and winning every game that we have. Taking advantage of every opportunity to go out there and get a win, because that will salvage or change what we have done in the fact of what we already put out there. It is not about getting to a certain number. It is not about changing or doing anything out of the ordinary. It is about playing hard and just getting wins."
The Giants' six-game losing streak was against five different teams (including the Cowboys twice) that are all above .500 and are no worse than tied for second in their division. Philadelphia, Dallas, Indianapolis, Seattle and San Francisco are a combined 37-18 (.673). None of the Giants' next four opponents is close to .500, though their records get progressively better: the Jaguars are 1-10, Tennessee is 2-9, Washington is 3-8 and St. Louis is 4-7. That's a combined record of 10-34 (.227).
Presumably, the Giants have a chance to end their losing streak and go on a late-season surge. But as Manning pointed out, they cannot take anyone or anything for granted.
"We are going to Jacksonville; they have one win, and we have three wins," Manning said. "I don't think we are in a position to label anybody or to think we are better than anybody. We have to play well. We've got to find a way to get a win, we've got to put 60 minutes together and play great football for that whole time."
The Giants have not lacked for effort, and that will not change. But no matter what happens over the next five weeks, the players will leave this season convinced their record could have – perhaps should have – been better.
"It's frustrating, because I know how good this team is," running back Rashad Jennings said. "I know the talent on this team. It's going in year six (in Jennings' career) and this is one of the most talented teams I've been on. The fact that we're not getting the results that we're capable of – obviously, we're not deserving of them, because we're not fighting hard enough or something. We have to figure it out. We're not a team of excuses. It's just frustrating on all the talent we have and we're not capitalizing. We're going to get that right."
They have five games to do it.
18 photos that tell the story of Sunday's loss to the Cowboys