Antrel Rolle invoked one of this year's biggest NFL stories in describing the challenge the Giants face in the final quarter of the NFL season.
"We just have to find a way to win," said Rolle, the two-time Pro Bowl safety. "Like Tim Tebow going out there and finding a way to win, we have to find a way to win."
The man spelled it out clearly and correctly.
The Giants came together just hours after their heartbreaking 38-35 loss to the undefeated Green Bay Packers yesterday in MetLife Stadium. Mason Crosby scored the game-winning points on a 31-yard field goal as time expired, negating a Giants comeback from 11 points down in the third quarter. Any loss is tough to accept, but particularly one in which a team fights valiantly against the defending champions, a team that is all but unanimously acclaimed as the NFL's best, only to lose at the end. The Giants had tied the game on Eli Manning's third touchdown pass, a two-yarder to Hakeem Nicks, and a two-point conversion with 58 seconds left.
But Aaron Rodgers completed passes of 24, 27 and 18 yards in that condensed time frame to set up Crosby's game-winner and sent the Giants to their fourth consecutive loss.
The Giants had two choices. They could continue to lament their lost opportunity or they could look forward to a better last month of the season. They unanimously chose the latter.
"It's more the fact that we can build off of it," said Nicks, who scored two touchdowns against Green Bay. "We can take nothing but positives out of that game. It was a hard-fought game. It went down to the wire. It was two teams battling."
"Hopefully, we can take some momentum from the game," quarterback Eli Manning said. "A lot of good things, a great fight, great determination coming back from being down at times and fighting back and tying up the game. Those are the things you like to see. You like to see that competitiveness amongst the players. I thought there was great energy, great enthusiasm and great confidence throughout the whole game. We have to make sure we take those things into practice this week and into the game next week."
Although the Giants have lost four straight, they are in a better position than most NFL teams, because they can win their division without relying on help from anyone else. With a 6-6 record, the Giants are one game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The teams will face each other Sunday night in Dallas, the first of two meetings in the season's final four weeks.
That will be the Giants' final game away from MetLife Stadium. They will have home games against the Washington Redskins and the Cowboys sandwiched around a game against the Jets in which they will be the visitors.
If the Giants win their final four games, they will be NFC East champions, no matter what anyone else does. That is what the Giants focused on today, not the sting of a last-second defeat.
"Our goals are still in hand," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "Everything that we wanted to achieve at the very beginning of the season, having played 12 weeks, they're still there. This is obviously a big game in the division, in Dallas, for first place in the division."
"Obviously, we got off to a fast start in the season and won a lot of games," Manning said. "That's helped keep us in position to be fighting for the division. A lot of times that's all you can ask for. When you get into December you want to be playing important games and every one is important right now, none bigger than this one. We're playing against Dallas, who is the leader in the division right now, but we have a chance to change that. This is going to be a fun one."
Coughlin today reiterated what he said in his postgame news conference: the loss to Green Bay can make the Giants a closer team because they rebounded from a poor performance last week in New Orleans and stood tall when many outside their locker room expected a game as lopsided as the loss to the Saints.
"I think it will be," Coughlin said. "I mentioned that because of what they've been through here. I think it brings you a little bit closer together when you set your eye on something that nobody believes that you can do and you believe it and you play that way. It's very, very difficult, and I mentioned last night, there's no solace to playing well and losing. … I'm just saying they have to gain something from knowing that together they were able to accomplish it. For the most part all three phases did support one another."
If the Giants can continue to do that and play as they did against the Packers, they can reverse their fortunes yet again and seize a division title that is there for the taking.
"We control our own destiny," Rolle said. "We just have to make sure we play ball and take it one week at a time."
"We know where we want to be, we know what we want to do," Nicks said. "We just have to get the job done."
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