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The 0-5 Giants must not run up the white flag

Jamie C. Harris | 10/10/2013, 4:50 p.m.
The normally resolute head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin, a future Hall of Fame inductee, stood before ...
No wins as Tom Coughlin fights to keep his team together. Photo by Bill Moore

It was a moment reflective of the circumstances. The normally resolute head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin, a future Hall of Fame inductee, stood before the media on Sunday afternoon with an aura of resignation.

An air of empathy permeated the home team’s interview room at MetLife Stadium as Coughlin, in a measured tone, articulated the plight of the 0-5 Giants, who had just been defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles 36-21.

“Very frustrated, very down,” was Coughlin’s characterization of his charges’ mental state. “The guys have stayed together. They’ve worked very hard. They build themselves back up to a really good approach, then the frustration of not getting the win,” he said, the pain of losing evident with each word.

“They’re doing the best they can … I did think there was improvement [today] … We’re just going to have to line up and do it again in a very short week.”

How does a team that held authentic Super Bowl aspirations when the season began reconcile the demoralizing reality that they are now essentially playing for pride, reputation and future earnings? How do they calibrate their minds and bodies to face the desperate Chicago Bears tonight [Thursday] in Chicago on only three days’ rest—a talented 3-2 Bears outfit that is tied with the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North but have lost two in a row?

It is still professional football, men who, by and large, are playing for the love of the sport but also for their livelihood. What it’s not is an overmatched Florida A&M team facing Ohio State, a game in which the Rattlers lost by 76-0 in late September. The Giants are not going back to dorm rooms or a campus cafeteria to find sympathy. They have to endure exasperated fans and the unforgiving media.

“What are you going to do?” defensive linemen Justin Tuck rhetorically asked. “Sulk? Cry about it? There are only two ways to finish this season, and that’s figuring some kind of way to right the ship and getting some positive momentum going here, or you can sulk and feel sorry for yourself and have the worst season ever in Giants history.”