The most amazing thing about the New York Giants' miserable no-show in a disappointing 23-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday is that the Giants still control their own playoff destiny. If the Giants defeat the New York Jets on Saturday and the Dallas Cowboys on New Year's Day they win the NFC East championship.
If you are a Giants fan, can you really have any confidence that your team can do that, however? On top of which do you really believe this miserably inconsistent, defensively-challenged team that talks tough but often fails to play with urgency is really a playoff-caliber team? It's hard to see how.
On offense the Giants have the wonderful right arm and competitiveness of Eli Manning. On defense they have the wonderfully talented Jason Pierre-Paul. Other than that what do they have? A team filled with question marks and plagued by both inconsistent performance and effort, that's what.
Let's examine some of what happened on Sunday.
- A drop by Jake Ballard that would have resulted in a first down was followed by a drop by Hakeem Nicks that would have been a 55-yard touchdown and a 7-3 Giants lead. Right then, you knew this would be a difficult day for the Giants. The Giants dropped at least five passes for the game.
- The Giants intercepted Rex Grossman twice in the first quarter and got no points.
- The Giants had communication breakdowns in the secondary -- again -- including one that led to a 20-yard touchdown for Santana Moss. After that, and getting toasted on a couple of other occasions, rookie Prince Amukamara found himself benched.
- There were three Manning interceptions, even if none was really his fault. One was a brilliant play by DeAngelo Hall, one a tipped ball and one a fade for Mario Manningham where the receiver inexplicably ran the wrong route.
- The Giants had a penalty that took a fourth-quarter touchdown off the board. They had numerous other penalties that hurt them, both offensively and defensively.
- They had missed tackles in the open field, and a defensive front seven that -- aside from Jason Pierre-Paul -- got pushed around by the Redskins.
- Overall, they seemed lethargic. Emotionless. As if the gravity of the situation was lost upon them. Or as if they simply expected to win by showing up.
Thing is, we have seen this song and dance several times from the Giants. They lost a home game to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season. They lost at home to the Philadelphia Eagles in a game Philly entered 3-6 and with backup quarterback Vince Young at the helm. They were completely embarrassed by New Orleans. They had close calls that should not have been close against Miami and Arizona.
The Giants now enter games against the Jets and Cowboys that will determine their season. They may also determine the future of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. If the Giants fail to make the playoffs for a third straight season there will be calls for Coughlin's head. No arguing Coughlin's credentials, but the flat, lifeless efforts have been happening for too often. If the Giants don't make the playoffs it will be difficult to justify keeping him on.
The Giants, though, still have their fate -- and Coughlin's -- in their own hands. From what we have seen throughout this inexplicable season, it's hard to believe they won't drop both.