This was one of the most challenging seasons for Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. (54400)

This season, the Giants’ first losing season since 2004, has followed a pattern not uncommon with the volatile nature of the NFL. Fortunes dramatically change for better or for worse in this league.

It would not be surprising if the Giants were back in the Super Bowl next season. That’s the mindset the organization’s brain trust will adapt going into the offseason following their 16th and final game this Sunday versus the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium.

The Giants are 6-9, which makes them 6-3 since starting the season 0-6. It’s a classic case of seeing the cup half-empty versus the cup half-full. What semantics cannot cloud is the fact that they have fluctuated between mediocre and terrible since an opening night defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in September.

Like life, the season has seemed to pass in a flash. And there are no do-overs. So the Giants, who had every reason to believe they were a Super Bowl contender coming out of training camp, can only make a strong effort to finish strong and lay the groundwork for a fresh start.

Thus, their redeeming 23-20 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions on the road this past Sunday after a dispassionate 23-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks the previous weekend was far from meaningless.

“[We] took a lot of shots this year [and,] quite frankly, have earned the criticism,” said Giants head coach, Tom Coughlin, after the Giants mathematically eliminated the Lions from playoff contention.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’ve been able to stay focused and we’ve been able to touch on some real deep values that get overlooked when people are telling you [that] you have nothing to play for. You’ve got everything in the world to play for … Tonight was a good demonstration of that.”

Coughlin will probably be back next year. So will Eli Manning and safety Antrel Rolle. The three comprise a capable core.

“We went out there and showed that we love each other, and we’re going to … compete for each other,” said Rolle, the Giants’ best player this season, during a television interview.

There’s one more game left. Then it’s back to the drawing board.