Tom Coughlin on Giants loss: Make the plays when the plays are available to you
Jaime C. Harris | 9/13/2012, 1:46 p.m.
The 17-week NFL season is fluid and volatile. One game in early September does not define nor determine a team's ultimate ending. So the Giants' lackluster 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Wednesday at home to open the season was less critical than it was disconcerting. The Giants came into the game with good health and exceeding confidence as ostensibly distinct advantages over the Cowboys, who are seemingly in a perpetual state of self-doubt and controversy. The Giants handled the Cowboys twice last season, including a seminal 31-14 win in New Jersey on New Year's Day that secured the NFC East division title and catapulted them to a Super Bowl run. But eight days ago the longtime rivals experienced a role reversal, as it was the Cowboys who displayed a sense of urgency, exerting physical and mental will that is normally the signature of the Giants. Usually, teams review film of the previous game early in the week. They breakdown mistakes and reinforce the positive, then shift their focus to the next opponent, with six-days being the normal time between games. However, because the Giants will have had a 10-day layoff before facing their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Sunday (1:00 P.M.), they should be thoroughly prepared to put forth a much better performance than in Week 1. While they aren't facing a division adversary, the Bucs are in the same conference as the Giants. And losses to teams in either category are more significant to their playoff prospects than defeats to AFC opponents. "Hey, you shouldn't; you can't lose a game. Everybody's 1-0, and we're 0-1," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin earlier this week when asked if was concerned about already being one game behind the Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in the NFC East. "We have another big game this weekend. That's the great thing about our profession; we get to line up and play again. Coughlin said the source to besting the 1-0 Buccaneers, who are guided by first-year head coach Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers head coach, has more to do with keying in on what they must do than what Tampa Bay will bring to the table. "Execution," emphasized Coughlin. "Make the plays when the plays are available to you. Be smarter, be the smarter team."