Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Giants look to rebound against Packers
By Ohm Youngmisuk
It wasn't even an hour after the Eagles had completed their New Meadowlands Miracle that Justin Tuck began the Giants' recovery process.
Make no mistake, this was as devastating a loss as there possibly can be. Blowing a 31-10 lead with eight minutes to go and losing on a 65-yard punt return on the final play of the game is about as traumatic as your fiancee leaving you -- for your best man -- at the altar.
It's something not many people experience. And the Giants went through it with the entire country watching, judging and dissecting.
"I'm not as mad about this game as people might think I am because I am looking forward to the next one," Tuck said not long after the 38-31 loss.
And just like that, the Giants' captains began step one of the recovery. Even if they wanted to sulk and go over everything that had gone wrong, the Giants' leaders couldn't publicly. Tuck started it off by saying he wasn't that angry and was already looking toward Green Bay.
By Monday morning, offensive captain Eli Manning channeled his Tony Robbins and called a players meeting to deliver his first solo speech to the team in the locker room.
The message was to take the remainder of Monday and the off day Tuesday to get the Eagles debacle out of their system, and come ready to fight for a playoff spot Wednesday morning. Despite the fact that the Giants looked inept in the final eight minutes of that fiasco, Tom Coughlin's team can rinse Sunday's nasty taste out of its mouth with a victory in Green Bay.
Beat the Packers, and the Giants are in the playoffs. After all that happened Sunday, the Giants can still accomplish their goal of making the postseason.
They might not win the NFC East anymore, but they can still play for the Super Bowl.
Even if the Giants lose in Green Bay, they can still get into the playoffs, but they will need help. The Giants can't afford to leave their fate in others' hands.
Or Matt Dodge's, for that matter.
Knowing Coughlin, he will have the Giants primed for a major bounce-back in Green Bay. He has rallied the troops before when things appeared bleak.
Earlier this season, Coughlin's job status and his grip on the team were in question after the Giants were 1-2 following painful losses to Indianapolis and Tennessee.
Antrel Rolle wondered about the leadership in the locker room and whether Coughlin was too controlling. Tiki Barber said Coughlin was in a "crisis."
The Giants promptly responded with a five-game winning streak.
Then, after two straight losses to Dallas and Philadelphia and with injuries mounting, Coughlin got his team to rebound with three consecutive wins.
Now, the Giants have suffered a collapse for the ages, and they finish the season on the road in Green Bay and Washington.
Don't go betting the house on Coughlin's team to fall apart the way the Metrodome did. The Giants have been resilient. They are capable of playing dominant football; they manhandled the Eagles for 52 minutes. They just need to finish an entire game without beating themselves with killer turnovers or suffering defensive breakdowns.
In the hours after the Philadelphia loss, Coughlin's biggest leaders in the locker room were already busy building the team's confidence back up.
After Tuck started with his postgame presser and Manning held the players meeting, a defiant Rolle did his best Patrick Ewing impression and tried to pump the locker room full of swagger by saying the team will beat Green Bay.
"I don't think, I know it," Rolle said. "That is what is going to happen. I know it is going to happen this weekend. I have no doubt."
The Giants have beaten all of their NFC North foes so far this season with wins against Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota.
A victory in Green Bay with a playoff berth at stake would be their best win of the season.
Seems like a good time for the Giants to return to Lambeau for the first time since their 23-20 overtime win in the frozen NFC Championship Game during their magical 2007 season. Perhaps it will remind them of how resilient and tough they can be.
"Hopefully, the parallel I am looking forward to is Dallas beat us twice that year too and we got an opportunity to go to Dallas and beat them [in the playoffs]," Tuck said after Philadelphia swept them this season. "Obviously we got to get into the tournament."
"A lot will be told Wednesday when we step onto the football field and how we react to being back on the field after such a crushing loss," Tuck added. "I know this football team, and the majority of them are very resilient. The only reason why I say majority is because we got some first-time guys who haven't been in this situation so we will see how they respond."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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