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Monday, December 17, 2012
Giants go from 'All in' to 'Just get in'

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It doesn't matter what happened in Atlanta or whether the NFC East is lost.

For Eli Manning and the New York Giants, all that matters now is what happens in these next two weeks. Beat Baltimore and Philadelphia and the Giants will be able to defend their Super Bowl title in the postseason.

They don't care about whether they enter the playoffs as division champs or as a wild-card team. "In is in," Manning said. "Whether you are division champs or wild card, it doesn't make a difference."

Eli Manning
Eli Manning insists that "in is in" regarding the playoffs after a 34-0 defeat in Atlanta.

"You want to get into the dance," Manning added. "You want to be included because you never know what is going to happen from there."

From "all in" to "just get in." That should be the Giants' new rallying cry. Because as horrid as they looked on Sunday in Atlanta in a 34-0 pasting, the Giants can go from looking like a team with no pulse to a team that nobody will want to face in the playoffs.

The Giants are a team that dominated the Niners and Packers and beat the Redskins and Cowboys once each already. And while they were flattened by the Falcons on Sunday, does anybody really doubt that the Giants could go into Atlanta and beat the Falcons in a playoff game knowing full well that they destroyed Atlanta last postseason, 24-2, in the wild-card game?

The problem has been trying to figure out which Giants team is going to show up on a weekly basis. One week they'll look like the best team in the NFL and the next they'll get smoked in Cincinnati.

Is this the same Giants team that won the last two games last year to make the playoffs after starting 7-7 and dropping a dismal home loss to the Redskins?

Or will this be more like 2010, when the Giants never really recovered from their 38-31 loss to Michael Vick and the Eagles and were hammered in Green Bay 45-17, before beating the Redskins in the season finale only to miss the playoffs?

I still think this group is closer to the one that won it all last season. But that same thinking may be what has the Giants in the current predicament they face. Some in the locker room may think that they can just turn it on when needed -- like now.

"We can draw on the experience," Tom Coughlin said of winning out. "We did a year ago, six times in a row. That's kind of what we have to do here. If we're going to have an opportunity to get into the playoffs at all, we've got to win the next two games. [It's] sort of the way it was a year ago."

Of course, the Giants won't have the luxury of playing the first of the must-win games at home like last year, when they dismissed Rex Ryan's Jets on Christmas Eve in the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium even if they were the "visitors."

They'll have to travel south to face a Ravens team that has lost three straight games. Winning in Baltimore is no easy task. But the Giants can get to Joe Flacco if their defense plays more like the way it did against Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

The season finale against Philadelphia will certainly be tricky and a bit scary knowing how the Eagles and Andy Reid play the Giants annually.

The Giants need to be more physical and nastier in these final two games. They need to plug their run defense and Perry Fewell must revive his pass rush, which has been nonexistent too many times.

"We need to be more physical, we're not knocking anybody back right now," defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "We're not shedding blockers. We're not tackling. I think we said we had 18 missed tackles yesterday. That's not championship defense."

Canty sounded as disturbed about his team's performance in Atlanta in Week 15 as he did after the Giants' loss in Week 15 last year to the Redskins.

The players set off the alarm after that Redskins debacle as they voiced their concerns and how everybody needed to be "All in."

It's time to ring the alarm again. Whether it is Antrel Rolle, Justin Tuck, Canty or Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants' vocal leaders need to start beating the drum again this week.

"There needs to be a sense of urgency," Canty said before a long pause. "A 34-0 loss, when you have everything to play for, that's a reality check. And I think guys will understand that, and I think that will help us, help us pay attention to the details we need to in order to focus on the task at hand."

"Those are all things that we've talked about," Canty later added. "I don't want to make it seem any worse than what it is, because the fact of the matter is, we still have the opportunity to be in the postseason, we still have an opportunity to control our own destiny and be where we want to be."

And they have "hope" as Coughlin called it. As the head coach settled into his seat on the team flight home on Sunday, Coughlin was told that the Giants still control their playoff fate if they win out thanks to conference tiebreakers.

But hope will turn into despair and disappointment if the Giants don't get their act together quickly.

"[Last year] don't mean nothing," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul warned of the Giants relying on their experience from last year. "You have to go out and play. That was last year. All that talk that we been here before, forget all that. I'm tired of hearing it. We just have to go out and play. There's no we been here before."