Commentary

G-Men need a 'W' and a lot of luck

There's no fight in this Giants team, which now needs help to get into the playoffs

Updated: December 24, 2012, 6:59 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

BALTIMORE - Mathematically, the New York Giants are still alive for the playoffs.

Spiritually and emotionally, the defending champions look like they are done.

"S---, do we deserve it by the way we played? Do we? S---, I don't think so," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We went out there and p----- on our legs, there's really nothing more I can say."

For the second consecutive week, the fading Giants threw away control over their playoff fate and didn't even look like they cared to put up a fight in a 33-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Like they did in a 34-0 loss in Atlanta the week before, the Giants looked almost catatonic.

The Giants (8-7) are still alive for a playoff spot but they need to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at home next Sunday and need a Dallas loss or tie, a Minnesota loss and a Chicago loss to have a crack at defending their title.

But beating the Eagles is no given considering how the Giants have barely shown a pulse the last two weeks in being outscored by a disturbing total of 67-14.

Certainly, the Eagles would love to spoil the Giants' season in what could be Andy Reid's final game.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Gail BurtonGiants quarterback Eli Manning faced pressure from the Ravens pass rush all Sunday afternoon.

But the defending champs have bigger issues than the Eagles. Their biggest opponent might be themselves. They have played like a team that is already satisfied with the rings it won last year.

"I think we have a pretty good team," a frustrated Pierre-Paul said. "We've got so much talent on this team. The games that we've lost, we shouldn't have lost, but that's in the past.

"Guys have just got to find their hearts and rise to the occasion, which we're not doing. We're iffy, man, and I don't like that."

Tom Coughlin said he takes responsibility for the actions of the team. But his players look like they are just going through the motions and playing out the season for some reason.

After letting Matt Ryan do whatever he wanted in Atlanta a week ago, the Giants defense offered little resistance to Joe Flacco and the Ravens, a team that had lost three straight.

Flacco looked as cozy in the pocket as if he were lounging at home on his couch. Playing without Justin Tuck (shoulder) and Kenny Phillips (knee), the Giants got little to no pressure and had one late sack.

The once-vaunted pass rush has a total of three sacks in the past four games.

Pierre-Paul believes the passion was there at the start of the game for the Giants.

"[There] was definitely fire," Pierre-Paul said. "But they threw water on it, man."

Flacco targeted cornerback Corey Webster, who looked as uncertain at times on Sunday as a rookie corner making his first start. Webster gave up the first touchdown to Torrey Smith on a 6-yard pass and then a 43-yard pass to Smith that helped set up a Flacco 1-yard touchdown sneak to put the Ravens up 14-0 in the first quarter.

He would've had another touchdown scored on him in the second quarter, but officials reversed a touchdown catch by Jacoby Jones.

Webster, though, was far from the lone culprit. Blame should be spread all around for this stinking mess.

After talking all week about stopping the run and wrap tackling, the Giants run defense was shredded by Baltimore for 224 yards, as Ray Rice rushed for 107 yards and backup Bernard Pierce added 123 more, most coming on a 78-yard run.

Whether it was poor execution or just a lack of effort, a Giants defense that once dominated the likes of San Francisco and Green Bay this season is in complete disarray.

Offensively, it isn't any better. Eli Manning was under a great deal of pressure, and threw for just 150 yards while being sacked three times.

The magic Manning wielded so many times last year is just not there this season. A hobbled Hakeem Nicks finished with no catches for the first time in his career.

Victor Cruz had just three catches for 21 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw played through a painful sprained knee injury, but the running game was pretty much a non-factor outside of David Wilson's 14-yard touchdown run.

The Giants say they are not full and satisfied after winning it all last year. But if this team gave forth the effort it did last year or even like it did at times earlier this season, the Giants would not be in this predicament of going from Super Bowl champs to likely missing the playoffs.

"I think everything goes into play at this particular point in time, especially when you lose games by such a huge margin," safety Antrel Rolle said when asked if effort or execution was the problem. "I am just kind of at a loss for words right now. I really don't know how it went wrong but it definitely has taken a wrong turn and we have to find our way back."

One of the questions leading into this debacle was whether the Giants would repeat their feat from last season and win the final two games of the regular season to get into the playoffs and get hot.

Or would they be closer to the 2010 team that suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Eagles, then was blown out in Green Bay before winning the season finale in Washington, only to finish out of the playoffs because they didn't get enough outside help?

The answer appears to be pretty clear. Once a team that had lofty aspirations of repeating as champs, the Giants now hope to finish above .500 and get lucky.

"We're going to play it out and try to get us a win, try to be 9-7," Pierre-Paul said. "It's better than 8-8."

Rolle was asked if this team has anything left.

"Absolutely, we have a lot left for next week," Rolle said. "We damn sure didn't put out in these last two weeks, so we definitely should have a lot left.

"Our season is not over yet, so we are going to go out and go out like champions."

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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