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Giants react to final game of 2018

QB Eli Manning

Q:  What are your thoughts on the first drive out there?

A: Bad decision by me. Tried to get a little high-low in the corner and thought he might sit on it. I just have to see it and push it out. Bad decision by me.

Q: How would you describe how the season went? You lost eight games by a possession or less.

A: I think a lot of close games early in the year. Obviously we were not playing well offensively. I thought we lost a couple of close games and in the second half, we played a lot better offensively and got into a rhythm. We made plays and felt good about what we were doing. We made adjustments but still had some close heartbreaking games, especially these last two. We just were not able to make plays at the end to win but we had an opportunity at the end. We had an opportunity in this game to make it a two-score game at the end and didn’t take advantage of that and had to settle for a field goal. We had to settle. We needed 15 yards to get in field goal range and threw four straight incompletions.

Q: Can you talk about your emotions today and getting off the field given the uncertainty of what is next?

A: We just tried to go out and win the game. It is never exciting to play the last game of the season when you know you aren’t going to the playoffs. We still wanted to go out and play well. We had that feeling in the locker room where we felt good about what was going on and about the work that was being put in. I think we made a lot of progress. It was just a tough loss. Dak makes a great play on fourth down. We had an opportunity to win it; we just did not make the plays. I am disappointed with the game.

Q: Any big picture feelings?

A: No. Try not to think about that or put anything on that. Just try to finish this season on a good note.

Q: Does the locker room feel different to you this year than last year given similar circumstances?

A: It feels different. We went into every game this year feeling like we had a great opportunity. We had a chance to win games and score points. Last year, guys were injured, coach gets fired during the season, a lot of things going on. This one, you saw the progress. You saw us getting better and felt good about things, what we were trying to accomplish. We just saw hoped that we could turn things around. We lost some tough games towards the end.

Q: You have been doing this for 15 years. Is the passion still there? Is this still fun?

A: Yes. This is all I know. I love coming to practice. I love game planning, getting plays that will work and competing. Winning games, celebrating touchdowns, all of that. All of that is fun. The losses hurt and they are tough to deal with. They are tougher now than in the past because you know your opportunities are running low to make playoffs and championship runs. When you are not doing as well as you want to, it is tough to handle. 

Q: You came on the field to take photos with your daughters before the game. Was that anything significant?

A: No. Ever hear the phrase ‘a happy wife, a happy life’? I think that fits that category.

Q: What was it like at the end when the fans were chanting your name?

A: I guess I was focused in on what we were doing. I didn’t hear it. I wanted to go win that game and make a run. Go have a two-minute drive to win it. Unfortunately, I feel bad. We should be able to do that and make those plays.

Q: Can you talk about Evan Engram and his progression this year?

A: He got off to a little slow start during the year. I thought he had a great camp and was doing a lot of things. He got off to a slow start and had the injury that kept him out a few games. Same deal, second half he came back and has played great. He played great last week and made some huge plays this week. We know he is a playmaker. He was making those plays, felt confident and stepped up his role. Just knew what to do and became a leader of this team and this offense.

Q: What is your level of desire to be here next year?

A: There is great talent and great character guys here. Guys you love to come to work with and you appreciate what they do and put in to get better, learn and listen to do the right things. You appreciate being able to come to work every day when you have guys that love what they’re doing. It makes it fun.

Q: You didn’t take a moment at all today to process this could be your last game here?

A: No. You try not to worry about those things. Just enjoy the moment and enjoy playing football. Enjoy every aspect. That is always your mindset. Playing in games, enjoy the circumstances and the situations. Enjoy the opportunity to go try and win a game. I think you have to always look at the positives and embrace it because you just don’t know.

Q: This has been the only job you have wanted and you have been here for 15 years. Why do you think the marriage between yourself and this market has been so good?

A: I don’t know. I think I have put all I could into it, playing quarterback for the Giants. I have tried my best to go out there every day and compete. That is all you can ask for from yourself.

Q: How do you feel when your coach says he believes in you just a few minutes ago? Does it impact your thinking at all?

A: No. I appreciate coach Shurmur and everything he has done. He has had my back this whole season, especially during the tough parts of the season. He has been great to me. The whole coaching staff has. I appreciate him. I think he is a great coach and the right man for this job. I appreciate his support and everything he has done for me.

Q: How do you evaluate your team when Odell is out there versus when he is not?

A: I think you get a good evaluation of the guys that are out there. The guys that are making plays and stepping up. Sterling playing in different spots, more outside than normal. Guys have to step up. Evan stepped up. Cody stepped up and made some big plays. You see other guys in situations to make plays and you rely on them. Odell is a tremendous player. When he is in games, he is going to attract the ball. It gives you an opportunity to trust those other guys and to see if they can make plays. They did.

Q: Do you have a gut feeling on if you will be back?

A: No, not right now. We will figure it all out.

RB Saquon Barkley

Q: What have you learned about yourself and the team as a whole throughout the season? 

A: Yeah, this entire season as far as obviously the season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to be, but I learned a lot from those guys, from the vets, from my teammates and I feel like as a person, as a player, I’m definitely a better player on the field. I see the field differently and the speed of the game. I look forward to watching film of this game, watching myself from this year and figure out how to take it to another level. 

Q: When you guys didn’t reach your team goals, what does it mean for you to reach these historic milestones? 

A: It doesn’t mean so much to me. Obviously I’m not going to lie to you, it’s an amazing feeling, it’s awesome to accomplish those things. That’s stuff that you dream about as a little kid, but you can’t do that by yourself. It’s a team thing. When you get a record of anything, it’s a team thing, so you definitely have to give credit to my offensive lineman, first and foremost, but also the quarterbacks, wide receivers and the coaching staff… And the tight ends. 

Q: What did you see on your touchdown leap? 

A: To be completely honest, right there, (I kind of knew if I just fell over I would be good?). I just tried to get into the end zone by any means necessary and thankfully I got the ball over. I got to be a little more careful there, that’s something you can learn as a rookie, understanding that you can’t lose the ball in that situation. But thank God we were able to get a touchdown. 

Q: What’s it like to take off from the 4-yard line and reach the goal line? 

A: You don’t even notice it. I didn’t even know that I took off from the four. I kind of just made up in my mind that by any means, I had to get in for my teammates. Whether it’s over, under, through, that certain situation was over. 

Q: What was the most challenging part of your rookie year? 

A: What was the most challenging part of my rookie year? Honestly, losing. But also understanding that, if you lose a couple of games in the beginning, you can’t panic, you can’t panic. At one point, we were 1-7 coming into the bye week and out of nowhere, boom, we were back in it just like that. That was probably a challenge in the beginning, but something that I learned. Definitely learning from the vets, understanding it’s a long season, a long grind and you just got to stick with it and stay with each other. 

Q: What does it mean to you to set the rookie running back catch record and get 2,000 yards? 

A: It’s an amazing feeling. Like I said, 2,000 yards, to be mentioned in the same name as Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James, it’s definitely an honor and privilege, but you don’t do that by yourself. To be honest, you have to give credit to your teammates and coaching staff. Without them, you don’t get that 2,000 yards or however many catches it was, so definitely got to give thanks to those guys. 

Q: What does it mean to the team positively or negatively to lose so many close games? 

A: I think it would say that one, we have to figure out how to win those games. I think eight games were seven or under losses. That’s something that you understand and find out in the NFL real quick as a rookie that a lot of the games are going to come down to the wire. I think one, we have to figure out as a team how to finish those games and execute in those moments, but it also shows you that some of those games, we were down. We had to fight and come back and it shows that dog mentality that we have on this team and this no-quit mentality that we have on this team. If we can keep that and figure out how to execute and finish those games, we’ll be a way better team next year. 

Q: You seemed very happy when Wayne (Gallman) got his touchdown. Can you talk about that? 

A: Yeah, definitely. I was very happy for Wayne. I did not know that that was his first touchdown of his career. I thought that was his first one of the season, but to find out that that was the first one of his career, it makes it even more special. That guy, he works so hard. It’s not fun being a backup. I don’t think any backup would get up and tell you that. But he works so hard to stay with it. He helps me when I’m on the field, he’s watching, he’s locked in and when he’s on the field, I’m locked in. When we go to the sideline, we talk to each other, what we saw, what would we do different. Not just him, but all of my teammates. I get joy from seeing all of my teammates especially when you got a guy who would obviously be in a different position, but continue to have that mindset to work and grind through it. When you see him get honored with touchdowns, it’s amazing.

Q: How surprised would you be if Eli Manning wasn’t your quarterback next year? 

A: I don’t know, to be completely honest. The only thing I know is that he has a lot of ball left, that this team believes in him. Even though the season didn’t end up how we wanted it to, we were in a lot of games, we just have to finish those games. I really can’t answer that question, but all I have to say is I know Eli has a lot of ball left in him and I know we believe in him. 

Q: What changed after that 1-7 start? 

A: I think we figured out that you have to play for each other and believe in each other. When you go out there, you play for your teammates. You go out there and have fun like a little kid playing little league football, things just happen. Big plays happen, wins happen. I think that was the message that we had during the second half of the year. I think that’s what really helped us. 

Q: What did you learn from Eli this year? 

A: I learned a lot. I learned a lot from Eli. In practice this week, since I knew it was going to be our last game, I just went up to him and said thank you. I don’t think I did that enough this year. I should have done it a lot more, but I just wanted to say thank you. He taught me so much. One, he taught me how to handle you guys, first and foremost. But just the way it doesn’t matter, up, down, win, loss, great game, bad game, he’s not going to change. He comes in with the same mentality, with the same mindset. He’s going to continue to believe in it, continue to work it. I think that’s the right recipe and the way that you should do it. Obviously it’s worked for him in his career being a two-time Super Bowl champion and a two-time Super Bowl MVP. 

Q: What’s going to be your personal focus as you go into the offseason? 

A: Me, I overthink a lot of things. I’m probably going to overthink everything and go back and watch film. I know I’m going to watch every single touch that I had. See what I can do better there. I had too many drops in my opinion this year. Go back to catching the ball, try to get better in that area. See what I can continue to do to get better. Understanding the game, understanding seeing the field, understanding defensive schemes and pressures of what they’re going to do. But that’s what I’m going to do, just see how I can elevate my game to another level. 

Q: Were you able to understand the protections more as the season progressed?

A: Yeah; definitely, definitely I was able to understand a lot more. I had a lot of help in college under a really good coach and I feel that I was very prepared coming in [into the NFL]. Obviously, things are disguised a little bit differently in the NFL, so I definitely credit Coach [Craig] Johnson. He helped me understand it and a lot of credit to Eli [Manning]. He’s very helpful; when you have a veteran that good and you’re back there trying to scan the field and see what is going on, he’s like, ‘This guy is coming’, it definitely helps me a lot, too. That’s something that I have to improve on and I think that’s what you have to be able to do to be a complete running back and to be a threat at any point; weather it’s blocking, catching, or running the ball. 

Q: It’s always about making adjustments, like you said, from college to the pros, what would you say was the biggest adjustment that you had to make to your game?

A: I would say, I think a lot of people said coming into the draft, I don’t know how to take the ‘tough run’, or I don’t know how to get vertical or have balance, or that I try to do too much. I think the biggest challenge that I think I did a good job of is blocking that noise out and just staying true to who I am. Obviously, for your coach to come out and say something like that, listen to him and see how to get better, but not letting the media and all of the national attention come with it change you, and that’s a hard thing. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, especially in nowadays age and go through your phone, you see that this person said this and this person said that, but I think that was the biggest challenge, but with the help of my family and the people that I surround myself with, my teammates and the people in the building, I think that they did a good job of helping me stay grounded and helping me understand what really matters.

TE Evan Engram

Q: How much of a process was it for you this season to get comfortable in this offense?

A: It’s a process to everything honestly, especially if you get some adversity in there, and things aren’t going the way you expected them at first. Definitely it was a process, but we’re staying patient, keeping faith, and just taking advantage of opportunities when we got them.

Q: What are your thoughts on (RB) Saquon (Barkley) and his accomplishments today?

A: We were talking about it before the game of how much he had to get. I was proud of him when he did, and happy for him. He was a big difference maker for us this year. A special talent, a special leader, special kid. Possibly, probably one of the greatest ever. So, I was proud of him, happy for him, and he deserves it.

Q: With all this losing, do you think it’ll pay dividends down the road? Or, will it just go nowhere?

A: The things that we learn through the losses are going to pay off. You never want to lose, and you never want to be happy about losing or what you learn, but the thing is that we have to get better at the things that happen in those losses. That’s more important; that’s going to help us build in the future.

Q: What are the things you think this team needs to get better at?

A: Starting faster – we got better at it this year as an offense, but if we can be consistent and make that an every week thing, we’re going to be in better positions. Probably limiting turnovers and getting more turnovers. Just making more big plays, and growing on each side of the ball. We got better at a lot of things on all sides of the ball this year, but just the small things, small details that if we get better at, we’re going to keep taking steps as a team.

Q: For you personally, are you satisfied with how you finished?

A: Honestly, yes – just kind of stayed the course. I had my teammates, especially the tight ends in my room, and the offense. We just kept working. We kept pushing each other. I just wanted to finish strong. Just take advantage of the opportunities that I got, and to just keep getting better and keep taking steps as a player and a better playmaker.

Q: Is there a common lesson that you feel you can take from all the losing?

A: Finish, we got to finish. I know we were in position tonight to finish, and we didn’t. We were in position to finish a lot of games that we came out with a loss. Those little things that add up to the big picture, when we improve at that, it’s going to help us finish. That’s the biggest thing we can take away this year, is we have to get better at finishing.

WR Cody Latimer

Q: On his touchdown and building momentum after that.

A: It was a good touchdown. It was a great throw, though, by Eli (Manning). Eli threw an amazing pass where I was able to get in where the DB wasn’t. Just something we worked on in practice all the time and like I said, it was a great pass and a great play call. I knew it was – missed most of the year to me being out and I just wanted to be able to contribute. I made it back, busted my butt to get back for these last two games. Just trying to show on film for everybody, for myself, and just trying to do the best I can the last two games. Head down, eyes up, and we’ll see what happens.

Q: It looked like on those two one-handed catches you kind of had to catch them with one hand. Can you take us through the two plays and how you came down with them?

A: Like I said, great passing from the quarterback, from Eli. He threw it where I could catch it and like I said just practice. Just having to make the play, focusing on the ball and like I said, happy to come down with them.

Q: We have seen Saquon Barkley jumping over people, everybody was making all the tough plays. What was one of your favorite moments of the season for the offense?

A: I honestly don’t have just one, there’s too many. Everybody’s made big plays on offense. Even 10 (Manning) got a touchdown last week. Everybody’s made plays, so it’s not just one all play. A lot of them have been ‘wow’ plays because like I said, we have some great playmakers on this side of the ball and everybody gets their opportunity. They always make the most of them and they play hard, physical, and like I said, it’s not just one play, it’s many of them.

Q: Talk about the fight of the team. You guys never gave up, you guys were 1-7, but still battled back. With yourself, you battled back through a hamstring injury. Talk about the fight and character of this locker room.

A: It was just something built throughout the offseason, through training camp, getting everyone together on one page and we had a lot of new guys filling in, like my guy Bennie (Fowler) he’s over here, guys that came in, bought in and brought more energy to the team, but like I said, it’s just been that dog in us. We don’t give up, we fight until the end and like I said, everybody’s making the most of their opportunities. We came up short, but got time to evaluate everything and see what happens.

Q: What did coach say at halftime that sort of helped turn this thing around because it looked like it was more of a struggle during the first half than the second half offensively –

A: He said what he always says. Coach is short and sweet getting to the point. Just gave us one short and sweet. Everybody keep fighting, pretty much. Leaders step up and lead and that’s what they do and that’s what they did and everybody came out to play.

Q: What do you think about the season Eli Manning had?

A: I think he was good. He’s a heck of a quarterback. Definitely Hall of Fame in my eyes. Two-time Super Bowl champ. What more do you want and I think he’s faced a lot of adversity from criticism from everybody in the world and outsiders looking in and I love how he handled it. He’s a perfect example of what a pro should be. Eli never got fazed once and came and kept playing, making plays, playing his butt off, working extra hard, weight room, on/off the field. Somebody I would recommend everybody looked at and like I said, he got that attitude that I don’t care what everybody’s saying, I’m going to keep doing me.

Q: How much did he make you a better player?

A: A lot. Like I said, watching him, how he prepares, how he came in everyday, how he’s about his business and I always, since I’ve been in the league, talked down and always been put on the back burner and stuff and everybody got their things to say and me knowing that this year coming for him, everybody wanted to say what they want to say and he didn’t worry about it. He kept playing and proving everybody wrong and I love that.

Q: Do you want him to be the quarterback next year?

A: Whoever the quarterback is – of course, I will – but whoever it is is going to be the quarterback. Everybody’s going to have to rock with whoever it is. Of course, you want 10 back in.

Q: What did coach say to the team after the game?

A: That we fought. We’re a strong team. You see how much you progress throughout the whole season and a lot of people come in and out and like I said, new bodies and coming in and making an impact, so pretty much that we all fought together. We’re strong, we’re a team, and that nobody hangs their heads. Like I said, things just happen and we’ll see you tomorrow. See you tomorrow.

Q: Coach was talking about how you guys can learn from all the losing this season. Every loss has its own story, so is there a common thread, you think, that this team can build upon?

A: To keep it simple, a loss is a lesson. We had some lessons and like I said, we built from it. Nobody’s giving up. You can see the fight in this team and what we’re capable of and next year, just got to come in with that mindset knowing that what happened this year, but how hard we fought and kept going, kept being there for each other, playing for each other.

Center Spencer Pulley

Q: When you see Saquon (Barkley) break all of these records, does it make the offensive line group proud?
A: Yeah, definitely. Saquon is a really special player. It was great to work with him this year and I look forward to hopefully working with him more in the future. We definitely take pride in that. I think in the middle of the season, we really looked at our run game and looked at what we needed to do. We got so many guys coming in and out throughout the season, so yeah, I’m proud of that. It wasn’t good enough in my opinion, obviously, we didn’t win enough games, but yeah.

Q: Talk about the progress the offensive line made from the beginning of the season to now.
A: Big time, I thought it was big time. I think there was so much that we left out there throughout the season, it could have gotten better, but I’m really proud of these guys. Our offensive line, our offensive line room, and I’m hopefully looking forward to working with them more in the future.

Q: Does ending with three straight losses carry over into next season?
A: No, it doesn’t. What carries over is that taste in your mouth, that drive. It’s a weird feeling, it’s the end of the season. It’s moving into a different phase, but I know I and most people in this room are pretty fired up to get back. It’s just a tough feeling, but yeah, definitely excited to get back to work. 

Q: I assume you want to be back next year?
A: You never know what’s going to happen, but I had a great year here. I grew a lot with these guys. I love the people here and everything, so yeah, we’ll see what happens.

Center Spencer Pulley

Q: When you see Saquon (Barkley) break all of these records, does it make the offensive line group proud?
A: Yeah, definitely. Saquon is a really special player. It was great to work with him this year and I look forward to hopefully working with him more in the future. We definitely take pride in that. I think in the middle of the season, we really looked at our run game and looked at what we needed to do. We got so many guys coming in and out throughout the season, so yeah, I’m proud of that. It wasn’t good enough in my opinion, obviously, we didn’t win enough games, but yeah.

Q: Talk about the progress the offensive line made from the beginning of the season to now.
A: Big time, I thought it was big time. I think there was so much that we left out there throughout the season, it could have gotten better, but I’m really proud of these guys. Our offensive line, our offensive line room, and I’m hopefully looking forward to working with them more in the future.

Q: Does ending with three straight losses carry over into next season?
A: No, it doesn’t. What carries over is that taste in your mouth, that drive. It’s a weird feeling, it’s the end of the season. It’s moving into a different phase, but I know I and most people in this room are pretty fired up to get back. It’s just a tough feeling, but yeah, definitely excited to get back to work. 

Q: I assume you want to be back next year?
A: You never know what’s going to happen, but I had a great year here. I grew a lot with these guys. I love the people here and everything, so yeah, we’ll see what happens.

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