EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The Giants today conducted an autopsy on their latest disappointing defeat while insisting they are very much alive with seven games still to play in the 2014 season.
Their outlook was considerably brighter today than it was in the gloom of Seattle's CenturyLink Field, where they lost yesterday to the Seahawks, 38-17. The game was tied entering the fourth quarter before Seattle exploded for 21 unanswered points to send the Giants to their fourth consecutive defeat. At 3-6, the Giants have a good distance to travel just to return to playoff contention. But they're excited to confront the challenge. Their next two games are at home against 5-4 San Francisco and 7-3 Dallas.
"The point of the matter is what we have to do is we have to stick together as a team and continue to work hard," coach Tom Coughlin said today. "I talked a lot about improvement last week. Obviously, there is more that has to be done. We need to find a way to win a game."
No one is more aware or more intent on doing that than the players.
"We understand the position we are in and we understand what we need to do," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Everybody knows we need to get a win. Let's get that positive feeling back in the locker room, and I think we know we can do it, we just have to put it together. We have flashes of playing really good football, and we are just a few plays and a few mistakes from doing some really good things."
"Obviously, everyone is disappointed about the performance that we put out on the field," linebacker Jameel McClain said. "That is kind of going to be the initial feeling of it after the game, but everybody believes in the journey. Everybody believes in the destination. We know that we still have games to fight and go out there and play. That is what I get from the team. Right now people are disappointed with the performance that we put out there, and we should be."
It's difficult to disagree. The Giants must address the shortcomings that doomed them in Seattle. First among them was the run defense, which gave up 350 yards – the highest total by a Giants opponent in 36 years – and five touchdowns. Running back Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and four scores, and quarterback Russell Wilson added 107 yards and the final touchdown. The Seahawks won despite throwing just 17 passes, a statistical anomaly in today's pass-centric NFL.
"You have to look at a couple of things," Coughlin said. "First of all, you have a very powerful back. There were times where we didn't tackle as well as we would have liked to, and there were times when he ran right through the tackles. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that. On other occasions, there were, for example, when you assigned people to the dive, on occasion he did cut it all the way back outside the guys responsible for the dive, some of that did occur. Then we were out of position and didn't react well enough in containment or a leverage position to the quarterback when he kept the ball.
"It's option football, assignment football. … There were occasions where we didn't have anybody in position to contain the quarterback. He got the ball outside too easily and made yardage. When they did go conventional, they made some yards in their conventional lead blocker concept-type of runs. The ones that hurt us, I think, are the quarterback keeps and the option dives."
McClain said the responsibility for the poor performance lies with the players, not the coaches.
"We were definitely prepared," he said. "Coach had a great game plan. The game changes. There always will be a few surprises. We can't predict exactly what they are going to do. They did have a few wrinkles that we did not know of. Within those wrinkles, they got some plays off of it. All in all, it is just a player thing. It is not about being surprised. It is not about the game plan. It is not about being bad. It is not about anything. It is about coaches coach and players play. Us players, myself as a player, we need to play better.
"We just didn't play sound football. People weren't where they were supposed to be, myself included. I always look at myself first. There was a time or two where I wasn't in the position that I was supposed to be in to help the defense. We really didn't play solid football. That is it in a nutshell. As a starting linebacker or as any linebacker, it is anybody on this defense, even someone who was watching the game, no one likes that feeling. No one wants records to be set on them, no one."
Wilson averaged 7.6 yards carry while continually beating Giants defenders to and around the edge. This week, the Giants will face Colin Kaepernick, another mobile quarterback capable of putting up big rushing numbers.
Can the Giants improve enough not to be victimized in the same manner?
"Absolutely, it is fixable," McClain said. "It is more communication. It is more attention to detail. It is more (if someone doesn't know), ask a question. Everything can be fixed."
"That will be a positive thing for us in terms of learning from the experience we just had," Coughlin said, "knowing full well what they are capable of doing in the style of offense and the quarterback being involved as much as he is. Perhaps we will learn something that can really benefit us going forward."
This is the second season in a row the Giants are 3-6. But at this juncture in 2013, they had won their last three games after a 0-6 start. They finished the season with a 7-9 record. Manning believes this team has more potential.
"I feel like we are a better team," he said. "We are doing some good things. For whatever reason, we are not able to put four quarters together. It is not like we come out and totally don't do anything. I thought we had chances in the second half yesterday to do some good things. We had some decent drives going and it almost felt like the Cowboys game in a sense where we got to the 40-yard line a couple times in the third quarter and then all of sudden go backwards. We just have to find ways to keep competing and keep putting pressure on the opposing team and making the plays that are out there."
"We are blessed," McLain said. "We are in the NFL. Each week we get another opportunity to prove ourselves all over again. In these past weeks, we haven't done well, so this is the time the iron strikes and it is hot. We get it rolling the way it is supposed to be going and … we do face the same offense over again. People really have to look at themselves. Starting with me, I have to look at myself harder and see what I can do better."
He's not alone.
photos that tell the story of Sunday's loss to the Seahawks