Thanksgiving has arrived and the Giants’ playoff yearnings have been devoured.
Five more games remain on their schedule, and in theory, each is meaningful. Yet how can they move forward now with the same urgency and motivation they carried into last Sunday’s pivotal matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, which ended in a 24-21 loss?
A 14-play Cowboys drive that concluded with a 35-yard field goal by Dan Bailey rendered the remainder of the Giants’ season unessential. A win over the Cowboys would have been the Giants’ fifth in a row and placed them deep in the race for the NFC East title after a 0-6 start. But at 4-7 with a division record of 1-3, the Giants’ chase of the 6-5 Cowboys, who are 4-0 versus division opponents, and the 6-5 Philadelphia Eagles, who hold a 3-2 division mark, is futile.
“We lost a game that we were all excited about having a chance to win, but it’s gone,” said coach Tom Coughlin following the Cowboys defeat. “Let’s go win five games and let’s give ourselves a chance to hold our heads up high.”
The Giants’ head coach knows it will be a challenging charge to motivate his collective roster to focus and prepare as if the stakes are higher than if they were just playing for pride. That isn’t to suggest that the Giants will not put forth maximum effort on game days. It’s the monotony and routine between games that becomes even more taxing when the postseason is no longer an attainable goal.
“We’ve got to keep our heads held high, we’re still professionals and we still have a job to go out there and do,” said safety Antrel Rolle on Monday. “Nothing’s going to change around here … That’s not who we are, that’s not what we do. We’re all professionals and, more importantly, we’re Giants. We have a certain standard to uphold here, and we’re going to do that. Unfortunately for Rolle and the Giants, their standards were compromised when they lost the first six games of the season. The Cowboys cemented their fate on Sunday.
Five more long weeks to go. Pride over playoffs.