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Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: October 1, 3:20 AM ET
Giants crank up degree of difficulty

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

PHILADELPHIA -- As Lawrence Tynes' 54-yard field goal fell out of the air, short of the goal post, the New York Giants experienced that sick feeling they get whenever they play the Philadelphia Eagles.

It has become an all-too familiar feeling after losing eight of the past nine meetings to Andy Reid's team.

While this defeat wasn't as painful or as significant as the 38-31 epic meltdown to the Eagles in 2010 that cost them the NFC East, the Giants' latest loss has left them in a predicament that they've never been in under Tom Coughlin.

Nate Allen and Martellus Bennett
A victory over the Eagles is just out of the Giants' grasp -- again.

The Giants (2-2) have started 0-2 in the NFC East for the first time since 1996, when they finished 6-10 under Dan Reeves.

New York's best path into the playoffs likely is to win one of the toughest divisions in football, considering that they own the toughest schedule in the NFL.

They have only four division games remaining. So just how daunting is it to overcome this start in the division?

"Nah," Justin Tuck said confidently. "We've been worse."

Well, as Tuck pointed out, the Giants overcame an 0-2 start overall during the 2007 season before eventually winning the Super Bowl. But those weren't both divisional games, although they nearly did start that season 0-2 in the NFC East before beating Washington in the third game of that season.

The Giants certainly are masters at making life as difficult as possible.

"Absolutely, it is absolutely a deep hole," safety Antrel Rolle said. "There is a lot of football to be played, but you never want to start 0-2 against division opponents. We have to dig extremely deep."

As Rolle went on to say, this doesn't make or break the Giants' season. If anybody knows how to survive when things look bleak, it's the Giants. They won the Super Bowl despite starting the season 7-7 and having to win their final two games against the Jets and Cowboys to get into the playoffs.

But the team that insists on taking the tough route in doing everything just made its season that much more difficult.

By losing to the Cowboys at home in the season opener and failing to find a way to stop LeSean McCoy in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, the Giants now are going to have to steal a few road games on their schedule somewhere and find a way to perhaps win one in San Francisco, Atlanta or Baltimore. Their margin for error has dwindled.

Also, they'll have to do something they didn't do last year - beat the Redskins and take care of the Eagles at home.

Last season, the Giants were swept by the Redskins. And that was with Rex Grossman at quarterback, not Robert Griffin III.

They'll have to go into Dallas and even things with the Cowboys, and they have typically played some of their better games down there.

And if the Giants can still be in the thick of things by Dec. 30, they could be playing the Eagles for the NFC East crown again at MetLife Stadium in the regular-season finale.

Coughlin's team, though, will have to play more consistent defense. Perry Fewell's unit was nearly lights out in the first half, holding McCoy to two yards rushing by halftime. Michael Vick ran for just 19 yards.

But in the second half, the Giants lost containment and McCoy began gashing Coughlin's defense on the edges. The guy known as "Lady Gaga" to Osi Umenyiora did quite a number on the Giants in the second half, rushing for 121 yards after halftime.

On the drive that produced the game-winning field goal for the Eagles, McCoy rushed for 32 yards and Vick added a 13-yard run on the outside.

Eli Manning nearly pulled off another magical fourth-quarter comeback. But on a second-and-9 at the Eagles' 26, Manning lofted a corner pass to Ramses Barden inside the 5-yard-line that resulted in Barden interfering with Nnamdi Asomugha. The penalty cost the Giants 10 yards and forced Tynes to have to kick the would-be game-winning field goal from 54 yards out.

The Giants had no timeouts left but they certainly could have played for the field goal instead of throwing it toward the end zone.

Instead, they are left with that nasty taste that only seems to come from playing the Eagles.

"You are obviously very sick about it and we got a long bus ride back up to New Jersey to think about it," Tuck said.

"Honestly, I think this game, if we use it the right way, can be a huge positive," Tuck added. "Because we know that we are kind of backing ourselves into a wall again. And I know this team comes out swinging when we do that."

The Giants, for some reason, always have to make things harder on themselves in order to respond like champions under Coughlin.

Now, they've added something new and potentially harder to overcome.

"We still can have more wins than anybody in the division when it is all said and done," Tuck said. "There is a lot of football left. If we win out in our division, I think that puts us in the playoffs, right?"

Tuck was asked if the Giants really can win out in the division.

"Can I walk out of here?" Tuck asked. "You can do a lot of things."

And with that, Tuck got up from the table, grabbed his carry-on bag and walked out of the postgame news conference room.