So the New York Giants are the only team from last year's Final Four to not make it back this year. So as conference championship weekend approaches, we take a look at five games that cost the Giants an opportunity to defend their title in the postseason.
The Giants finished 9-7 this season but needed one more win to get back into the playoffs. Today we examine the Giants’ 19-17 loss in Philadelphia in Week 4.
Even though this was an early loss, Tom Coughlin sounded as if he needed therapy afterward. He knew back then that this could come back to haunt the Giants.
"I take full responsibility for that," Coughlin said the day after the loss. "And as I told the players, I will start the (Monday) meeting off by talking about my sins, and that's one that I will confess to."
What went wrong: First, the Giants could not hold on to a 17-16 lead. With 6:45 remaining in the game, the defense allowed Philadelphia to drive down to the Giants’ 2-yard-line before settling for a field goal to go up 19-17 with 1:49 remaining.
Later on that drive, Vick leaked out for a 13-yard scramble. The Giants defense, which struggled to contain McCoy and Vick from getting to the outside in the second half, was able to force a field goal with a sack on Vick.
Coughlin used all his time outs on defense trying to preserve clock for a comeback.
So with 1:49 remaining, Eli Manning started a drive that actually got the Giants down to the Eagles’ 26 with 25 seconds remaining. The Eagles were flagged for two pivotal defensive pass interference penalties on passes intended for Ramses Barden.
Turning point: This is where things suddenly took a turn for the worst. Instead of setting up for a game-winning field goal and being conservative, the Giants got aggressive. Manning tried taking a shot toward the end zone for Barden but this time Barden was called for offensive pass interference, pushing the Giants back to the Eagles’ 36.
Giant regret: That flag was a killer but the Giants still had 21 seconds left, plenty of time when you got Manning. On second-and-19, Manning threw an incomplete pass for Domenik Hixon.
So faced with a third-and-19 with 15 seconds left and no timeouts, Coughlin opted to go for a 54-yard field goal instead of taking a risk and trying to get a quick sideline pass for a potentially closer field goal. Tynes, whose career high is from 53, left the potential game winner short.
What if: The defeat dropped the Giants’ record to 2-2 at the time but a critical 0-2 in the division. Meanwhile, the Eagles went on to lose 11 of their next 12 games.
Obviously the Giants blew their opportunities to make the playoffs down the stretch with two big no-shows in Atlanta and Baltimore. But Coughlin knew back in late September that this one –- which seemed to be in their hands before the pass interference call against Barden –- would haunt him.
“The first Philadelphia game, 19-17… your thoughts are, ‘Boy, I hope this one doesn’t come back to haunt me, bite us in the butt in the long run,’” Coughlin said at his end of the season press conference with reporters. “But in reality, that’s what happened.”
Tell us below what you thought of this Giants' loss and how much this one hurt.