EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Coughlin often uses the phrase, "remorse for opportunity lost" after a Giants defeat. And though he didn't use those precise words today, the sentiment was very much the same in the wake of the team's 20-14 loss to the Washington Redskins yesterday in FedEx Field.
"We'll just start out by saying again how disappointed we were," Coughlin said at the beginning of his conference call with the media today, "and really in not playing better than we did down in Washington."
The entire team shared Coughlin's opinion. The Giants had a chance to take a commanding two-game lead, plus establish the tiebreaker advantage, in the NFC East. But they fell behind 17-0 at halftime and 20-0 early in the fourth quarter before launching a too-little, too-late comeback.
"I seriously can't speak for everybody," cornerback Prince Amukamara said, "but all I know is we fought in the second half, and the first half we were just disgusted with how we played.
"I think we're well aware that inconsistency is our biggest problem, and we're definitely trying to fix that. I feel like when we're on, we're on and when we're off, we're off, so we just have to be consistent with that light switch."
"(For) three quarters, we did nothing," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We did nothing at all. I'm pretty sure a lot of guys are frustrated, I'm frustrated. I'm upset about it, but at the end of the day, we've got to move on to the next game."
Now 5-6 and tied with Washington atop the division, the Giants will host the 6-5 Jets on Sunday. But the Giants made it clear the local rivalry does not top their list of concerns.
"I think we're all just focused on this being another opponent that we need to beat," Amukamara said. "We're still trying to win the division, and I don't think it's about who we're playing. If we need a rivalry to get us up, I feel like yesterday we should've been more amped than any game on our schedule. I don't think we need it to be a rivalry for us to get up. We know how great the Jets are, we know they came up with a huge win yesterday against the Dolphins, so we know what's ahead of us."
"It's an important game, and obviously a big one," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We need a win to stay where we are in the division, and we have to take it one game at a time. This is the next game and an important one, not just because it's Giants versus Jets and both teams share a stadium in the same city and everything. It's important because of what it means for our playoff hunt. It'll be a great test for us, they're a good defense, their offense is playing well and scoring points, and we have to play well."
The Giants are 2-4 in their last six games, a stretch that includes a loss in New Orleans in which they scored 49 points, and another to then-undefeated New England, 27-26, on a 54-yard field goal with one second left. Including the loss yesterday, five of the Giants' six defeats have been by a total of 15 points.
For many of the players, frustration lies not just in the close calls, but in the belief the team is not capitalizing on its potential.
"The reality is that we're a much better team than we're showing, and we aren't taking advantage of the opportunities," defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said after the game. "We aren't finishing games and we're good enough. We're definitely good enough, which is the most frustrating part about it. We're just not finishing, we're not coming up with the one play or two that'll put us over this hump."
Although they put themselves in a disadvantageous position with their loss yesterday, the Giants still have a chance to realize their objectives of winning the division and being a factor in the postseason. But they must play better than the performance they had in Washington.
"We're disappointed in ourselves, but we're not discouraged," Amukamara said. "We're excited that we have another game this week to go out and prove ourselves. We feel like our goal, which is winning the NFC East, is still achievable. Guys just have to be excited about that."
"I think we just have to find ways to make some plays," Manning said. "We have to prepare for the Jets. We have a lot of new guys on the team that haven't been a part of these teams these last few years, so it's just a matter of us coming together and making plays. I don't think it was part of our effort or understanding the offense or not. I thought our effort was there, I thought our desire to do it was there; just our execution has to be better."
After the yesterday's game, who's going to dissent?
Photo timeline from the Giants Week 12 matchup vs. Washington