Commentary

Coughlin upset with cavalier display

Big Blue's coach was harsh postgame, questioning his team's effort and will to fight

Updated: November 22, 2011, 5:18 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin has walked into his postgame presser feeling disappointed before.

The loss to Seattle earlier this season comes to mind and certainly no one will ever forget last December's debacle against the Eagles at the New Meadowlands.

While the level of frustration doesn't quite reach that devastating loss from last year, this latest 17-10 setback to the Eagles feels like someone punched the Giants in the mouth and gut while stealing something from them.

And worse yet, Coughlin believes his team stood there and did nothing about it.

In one of his harshest assessments of his team's play, Coughlin questioned his team's effort and called the Giants out for being manhandled by an Eagles team that simply wanted it more in keeping their season alive for another week.

"As I just said to each one of the players, first start off with yourself and look at yourself in the mirror," Coughlin said not long after the Giants lost their lead in the NFC East. "Ask yourself. Because my question for them was 'why?' What does it take to understand what the Eagles were going to be like coming in here? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the team is 3-6 with back to the wall, they are going to play their butts off."

"I am very disappointed because coming out of San Francisco the talk was -- by the players -- we'll fight, we'll fight, we will play hard and we will do all those things," he continued. "I didn't see that."

What Coughlin saw was a Giants team that had so much to play for and yet acted as if they could spare a loss.

It might only be Week 11 but this might as well have been a must win. The Giants lost their lead in the division and are now tied with Dallas at 6-4 but in second place due to their 1-2 record in the NFC East.

And their next three games are against New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas.

Tom Coughlin
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesTom Coughlin wasn't happy with what he saw from his Giants on Sunday night.

But forget about Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. The Giants couldn't even stop Vince Young, who dusted off his shoulder pads in relief of Michael Vick and morphed into John Elway for one fourth-quarter winning drive.

With the score tied at 10-10 with 11:36 remaining and the game up for grabs, Young engineered an 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate up nearly nine minutes off the clock.

Last December, the Eagles erased a 31-10 deficit in the last eight minutes to crush the Giants' playoff hopes and ultimately their 2010 season.

Those eight minutes felt like they happened in a blur with DeSean Jackson ending it suddenly with the infamous walk-off punt return. This loss and the 8:51 that decided the game felt more like slow death as the Eagles exposed a Michael Boley-less defense, converting six third downs with the last coming on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Young to Riley Cooper that saved the Eagles season.

"We didn't want it as bad as they did," Brandon Jacobs said. "There's no explanation for a game like that. They wanted it more. Their backs up against the wall. And we let them wake up on us."

There was one more chance to send the game to overtime and perhaps put Philadelphia's so-called dream team to sleep. But like last week in San Francisco, Eli Manning drove the Giants down to within scoring distance only to see another fourth-quarter comeback stalled. On a 1st-and-10 at the Eagles' 21, Manning scrambled toward the right before Jason Babin hit Manning from behind, forcing the ball out and allowing the Eagles to recover and win the game with 1:17 left.

Babin never stopped trying to get to Manning. It was the kind of effort that Coughlin wanted to see from his team.

But instead, Coughlin felt his team didn't show enough fight, especially after Trevor Laws and Trent Cole sandwiched Manning after a play was over following an interception in the first quarter.

"A guy drills the quarterback in the back, you would think your team would rally but we didn't do that," Coughlin said. "We had someone come forward and try to retaliate but that did nothing more than take our 15-yard penalty away. I would have expected our team to rally and I didn't see that either."

The Eagles physically set the tone of the game. Not only did they slam Manning to the turf after that one play, Philadelphia's much-maligned defense sacked Manning three times and hit him 10 times on the night.

The Eagles also knocked D.J. Ware out of the game after Cullen Jenkins delivered a bone-jarring hit that could be felt throughout the stadium, giving the Giants running back a concussion.

There were plenty of minor skirmishes on the field but when the Giants needed to show more fight and physicality in the trenches, they came up short.

"We have no rushing yardage with [just] 29 yards, which is about as pathetic as it can get," Coughlin said of the Giants' rushing total. "It was a very poor performance."

"Not only running the ball but pass protection," the coach added. "We got physically handled."

Manhandled in a division game with so much at stake to a hated rival is about as bad as it can get. Well, almost as bad as it can get after what the Giants went through last December here against the Eagles.

But now the whispers will certainly begin again of another second-half collapse by the Giants. They are on a two-game losing streak that can grow into a playoff-ending slump if they don't rebound next Monday night in New Orleans.

When told that people will start talking about the Giants struggling again after Halloween like they have done before under Coughlin, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said people need to slow down and stop writing the Giants' 2011 obituary with six games left to play.

"The story is still being written," Kiwanuka said. "Regardless of what is being said now, it all depends on how we finish the season."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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