EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When an NFL team spends weeks searching for an elusive victory and doesn't take advantage of late-game opportunities to secure on, the customary response has become that team must learn how to win. It's even more common when the team is young and/or led by a first-year head coach.
Enter the Giants, who have 19 first or second-year players, a new head coach and an 0-5 record as they prepare to host the 1-4 Washington Football Team tomorrow in MetLife Stadium.
But that coach, Joe Judge, is not a fan of the phrase because it implies victory is dependent solely on executing in the game's final minutes.
"I've heard that a lot lately - everyone talking about learning how to win, teaching them how to win," Judge said this week. "This is my belief on that. You don't win in the 60th minute. There is not some magic formula, there's not some grand scheme playbook that you come out with that this is how you win games. The way you win games is playing every play with the best technique, assignment and focus you can, eliminating mistakes and capitalizing on your opponent's mistakes. That's really the secret. It's not easy, but it's simple. I say that to our team a lot. We just try to keep football for what it is. I don't mean to just generalize that right there, but to me, that's the way I address it to our team. I have no problem saying that publicly. But the secret to winning is just doing your job for 60 minutes, and that's what it comes down to."
That's exactly what the Giants will attempt to do when they host the Washington team that has lost four consecutive games after a Kickoff Weekend victory against Philadelphia.
The Giants have had opportunities to walk of the field with a victory. In three of their five games, they had a chance to win the game or tie the score in the final moments. But they committed an offensive pass interference penalty in Chicago, threw an interception in Los Angeles and punted away the ball to set enable the Cowboys to drive 72 yards in five plays and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired in last week's 37-34 loss in Dallas.
"Definitely, guys are frustrated," linebacker Kyler Fackrell said. "I think coach Judge has done a great job of keeping us focused. I think we all have kind of bought in. We're doing the right things. We're working every day, working the right way. I think we just have to keep working and keep moving forward with the belief that it's going to turn. There are definitely things that we need to clean up as well. I think defensively, especially, I will just speak for the defense, there's definitely obvious things we need to clear up and be able to execute a lot better. "
"We haven't gotten the results that we would have hoped for to this point, but I think every week we go in expecting to win," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "We go in expecting to execute at a high level and play our game. We're confident. Washington is a good team, they're a good defense and they do a lot of good things. We'll have to prepare and be ready to play. But we try to go into every game ready to go and ready to execute."
Judge has consistently said the team is improving and making progress, which he points out when the players and coaches review game tape. But he's also the first to admit the Giants have not played at the level necessary to earn that coveted victory.
"We're very honest with all of the results we have," Judge said. "We talk every week in terms of where we're at as a team, what we've done well, what we've done that needs to be improved on. That ties into obviously tangible results on the field with wins and losses. It's a production business. We're all very conscious and aware of that. It's my job to make sure they understand what we need to do better, what we need to clean up. But then it's also my job to highlight and show them where they've made improvements and where we've made progress as a team, so they understand what we have really to build with."
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team.
The Giants continue to work hard and plug away, certain their efforts will be rewarded on the field and in the standings, with Sunday the newest target date for the first triumph of the Judge era.
"I feel like we are improving as a team," Jones said. "We've taken steps. As an offense, some of our best football has been in these last two games. The challenge is to keep building. We have to find a way to make a few more plays and convert some more opportunities. That's the challenge, and I think we are taking a step in the right direction. We just need to finish games."
"I feel like what we have here on this team is special," said defensive tackle and captain Dalvin Tomlinson. "The guys we have here, the way we come to work each and every day, whatever we have to do each and every day at practice, we go and do it, no questions asked. The mentality of the team, I feel like we have something special here. … (If) we come in with our heads down and just work, it's bound to pay off in due time.
If it does Sunday, what will it take for the Giants to earn that first victory?
"I think it would mean the same thing it means to us every week," Judge said. "We prepare hard. We want to see results. We want to get this for the fans. Look, it's the NFL. Every week, everyone is training and playing hard to get the win. For this team, it's no different. We go out there every week, we give it our all. We want to make sure we don't make mistakes to set ourselves behind. But for us, it's just about one game at a time. What we're trying to do right now is go 1-0 this week."
It certainly beats the alternative.
*In 2019, the Giants swept the season series with Washington for the first time in five years. In their three-game winning streak in the series, the Giants outscored Washington, 105-54 as Eli Manning and Daniel Jones threw nine touchdown passes and just two interceptions (both by Jones).
*The Giants lead the all-time regular-season series, 102-68-4.
*Washington is the only NFL averaging less than 20 points a game (17.8), less than 100 rushing yards (81.4) and less than 200 passing yards a game (181.6). It is the only teams with a 60-yard rusher in any game this season.
*Washington's 4.2-yard per-play average is last in the NFL.
*The "Bud Light Giants Gameday" radio pregame show will begin at 11:30 a.m. on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and will stream live on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.
"Giants Postgame Live" presented by Mercedes-Benz can be heard immediately after the game - also on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and streaming on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.
*The Giants have launched "A Giant Hero" campaign, presented by Quest Diagnostics, in which fans can nominate frontline workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Simply fill out the form at Giants.com/gianthero and provide a description of how this person is a hero in the community. Submissions will be accepted from Tuesday, October 13, through Friday, October 23.