EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants are looking to recapture the mojo they had early in the season and carry it through the five-game gauntlet that awaits them.
Since starting the season 6-1, the Giants have just a single victory in their last five games, and none in their last three. Yesterday, they gained just 112 yards in nine possessions in the second half and overtime and walked off the MetLife Stadium field with a 20-20 tie against the Washington Commanders.
"I think in the building, it kind of felt like a loss," safety Julian Love said today. "It's better than a loss. It's worse than a win. It felt like a loss to a lot of us because we're competitors. We felt like we should have won that game with the opportunities that we were given. But for every game, you feel that way. I think we just chip away at it and grind away at it. We'll get another chance against them. We have an opportunity in front of us with the Eagles. And so, the energy is the same. Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) is pretty consistent in how he is after a win, losses or now ties in addressing what we did well and helping us address and correct what we didn't do well."
"Of course, there's a sour taste in my mouth, we want to win," rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger said. "There's a lot of things that we did personally that could've helped us win and it wasn't so much what they did to stop us it was what we did and our execution that could've helped us win that game."
The team is facing some extended adversity and fielding strong criticism for the first time in Daboll's tenure. The first-year coach understands that hearing negative reactions are included in the job description.
"Adversity and criticism come with the territory," Daboll said. "I've been in, not this seat as a head coach, but a coordinator for a long time, and it's a popular game followed by a lot of people. And I appreciate the support. You also appreciate the negativity or criticism. If you want to be mentally tough and strong, this is the sport to be in, whether you're a coach, whether you're a player. And really, you can't focus too much on that. You appreciate it. I think we're all thankful for the support you get, but you just get back to work. There's adversity after every loss, sometimes there's adversity after a win. We've talked about that since probably April. There's going to be ups and downs, and to stay mentally strong and focused on the task at hand, that's not an easy thing to do all the time.
"But you need to do it. It's a week-to-week league, so have we got the results we wanted? Absolutely not. Have we prepared, worked and done the right things to give ourselves a chance? We have. We just haven't finished, we haven't done enough to win those games. I was proud of the team yesterday for the way they competed, losing two in a row and you're down 10-0 right away. So, the focus for us will always be on us and improving the things we need to improve from each individual, starting with me, all the way down to the team. That's, to me, the only way you know how to coach and work in this business."
The 7-4-1 Giants remain where they were prior to the game, in the sixth seed in the NFC playoff chase. But Seattle supplanted Washington in the seventh and final spot, a half-game behind the Giants. Because they lost to the Seahawks – who play four of their final five games at home - the Giants likely can't afford to stumble.
But they will be pushed. The Giants, who have the NFL's most difficult remaining schedule according to their opponents' winning percentage, will face their toughest test of the season Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the NFL's best record at 11-1. They will then travel to Washington for a prime-time rematch with the Commanders, who have their bye this week, visit the Minnesota Vikings, who are currently 10-2, come home to face Indianapolis and end the season in Philadelphia.
Daboll's field of vision doesn't include all that because he is focus solely on the Eagles.
"I think you just got to get ready to play the next week and the next team," he said. "For us, it's the best team in the NFL right now; one loss. They lost to Washington. They have a star-studded roster. I think (Eagles general manager) Howie (Roseman) has done a great job of putting together a bunch of talent there on that team. (Quarterback) Jalen (Hurts) is playing phenomenal. Those receivers are, they're exceptional (as is the) O-line, defensive line, corners. They've got a star-studded cast."
The Giants will look to upstage them on their home field.
View photos from the Giants' Week 13 game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium.
*Daboll expressed no second thoughts about the strategic decisions he made at the end of the second quarter and in overtime yesterday.
"I'd say status quo from last night," he said. "We certainly talk about everything after a game. We talked about yesterday's game today, and we talked about the decision-making processes, the analytics part of it and a bunch of things. Those are conversations we have each week."
In the waning moments of the first half, Richie James caught a pass for seven yards. The Giants did not get a favorable spot and faced a third-and-one when they called timeout with 19 seconds remaining. When play resumed, Daniel Jones gained two yards around right end. The Giants raced to the line and Jones spiked the ball with five seconds left. Graham Gano came on to kick a 27-yard field goal.
How much did James not getting the first down affect what happened next?
"I'm not going to get too involved into the particulars," Daboll said. "It just played out how it played out."
*Daboll was blunt when asked what happened to the team after halftime, when the Giants scored a touchdown after a takeaway on their first possession before punting six times, taking a knee deep in their own territory at the end of the fourth quarter and watched Graham Gano's 58-yard field goal attempt into the wind come up short at time expired.
"They played and coached better than we did," Daboll said.
In what ways?
"Pretty much in every way," he said.
*Defensive lineman Leonard Williams left the game in the second half with a neck injury.
"I'd say he's sore," Daboll said. "Leo's sore; that's really all I got right now. We'll see how it goes throughout the week after I meet with (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and the training staff. The rest of the guys made it through pretty clean."
I think he's getting better. I think it's too early to tell today, Monday. (He's) making progress. How much progress? Yet to be determined.
*Daboll said it's "too early to tell" whether cornerback Adoree' Jackson or safety Xavier McKinney will return to practice this week. Jackson has missed two games with a knee injury he suffered against Detroit on Nov. 20 and McKinney has not played in four games because of the hand injury he sustained during the bye week.
"I think (Jackson's) getting better," Daboll said. "(He's) making progress. How much progress? Yet to be determined."