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LANDOVER, Md. -- As New York Giants center Rich Seubert was being carted off the field with a dislocated right knee cap, he had one wish for fellow lineman David Diehl and the rest of his Giants teammates.
"Make sure you beat these guys, win this game," was what Seubert told Diehl as he was being lifted onto a cart and taken off the field with nine minutes to play in the first quarter.
"That just showed you what kind of guy he is," Diehl added. "Even though he was hurting he thought about the team more than he thought about himself."
The Giants fulfilled Seubert's wishes, beating Washington 17-14 on Sunday evening in Washington. But they fell short of a playoff berth when Jay Cutler and the Bears came up short in a 10-3 loss to the Packers.
"Richie asked us for one thing, he asked us to win the game and we did," Tom Coughlin said.
Seubert's loss was another tough pill to swallow in a day full of them for the Giants, who became the 19th team in the last 33 seasons -- since the NFL went to a 16-team playoff in 1978 -- to win at least ten games and fail to qualify for the playoffs.
Seubert appeared to get tangled up while blocking on 1st-and-10 play from the Washington 34. He immediately motioned for the trainers after he went down. He did not return to the game.
The lineman was on the ground for several minutes, surrounded by teammates.
"I was out there holding his hand because I knew he was in pain and I just told him I loved him and keep his head up," Diehl said. Seubert was carted off with his right leg stabilized. The full extent of his injury, including surgery options and potential recovery time, is unknown.
At halftime, he delivered the same "win the game" message that he did as he was being hauled off the field.
Seubert, a nine-year veteran and the longest-tenured Giant, was replaced by reserve lineman Kevin Boothe at center. It was Boothe's first action at center in the NFL. From there, Seubert's impact on the running game was clear - the Giants ran for 41 yards on three carries with Seubert at center; they gained just 41 yards on 29 carries the rest of the day.
Seubert was starting at center for the injured Shaun O'Hara. Seubert has started seven games at center this season. O'Hara and others have repeatedly called the career guard the MVP of the Giants offensive line this season.
"Everybody knows what he's been through and what it means," Coughlin said. "Talk about heart and soul in the way he played this year and the things he was able to accomplish for our team. We lose our center and this guy goes in there and just does a super job."
In their most recent stretch with Seubert at center, the Giants ran for a combined 410 yards. The Giants ran for an average of 151 yards on the ground in the six previous games Seubert started at center.
The Giants offensive line has also been decimated by injuries this season. O'Hara, Diehl and reserves Shawn Andrews and Adam Koets have all missed significant time this season due to injury. Sunday's starting line was the team's seventh different combination this season.
Seubert is no stranger to serious injury. The 31-year-old out of Western Illinois suffered a leg fracture on Oct. 19, 2003 that forced him to miss the rest of the 2003 and the entire 2004 season.
Seubert also played the entire 2009 season with a shoulder injury. He underwent surgery last January to repair the injury.
"Thankfully it wasn't as drastic as initially thought and he'll recover," Snee said of Sunday's injury.
Some speculated in the offseason that Seubert would lose his starting job if the Giants decided to shift left tackle Diehl to guard and insert 2009 second-round draft pick Will Beatty at left tackle.
But they decided to keep Seubert in the starting lineup, and he, right guard Chris Snee and right tackle Kareem McKenzie anchored a Giants rushing attack that ranked fifth in the league entering Sunday's game.Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.