The Giants have taken it on the chin during this five-game losing streak, but for head coach Tom Coughlin, his team has no choice but to get off the canvas, because no one is going to feel sorry for their plight.
The mood is still upbeat at the team’s facilities and in fact, the grizzled Coughlin who can sometimes be cantankerous, opened his Wednesday press conference with some humor.
“We could be in Buffalo, [so] smile,” said Coughlin, likely trying to lighten the mood for a squad that must’ve felt their playoff window practically close after last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
But there was Coughlin, ready to move on to Sunday night’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, fully aware that their season is on the brinks – but seemingly loose and still defiant about the team’s prospects.
“Keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting,” Coughlin repeatedly said when asked what his main message was this week. “That is all it takes, one game at a time, [and] bounce back. It’s about all those eyes that look at me on Wednesday morning. I am looking at them, quite frankly, trying to bring them through the disappointment [and on] towards the next opponent.”
That next opponent is the hated Cowboys, a team that already owns a win over the Giants earlier this season. But for Coughlin, even though the Cowboys are considered amongst the elite by some, he thinks the sight of their detested foe could actually spark Big Blue and they can use that emotion and contention to break the schneid.
“I think divisional games are a little more [meaningful]. We’re certainly blessed, if you will, to be in a division that’s highly competitive where everybody calls everybody a rival,” noted Coughlin. “I think playing them so much and knowing them so well makes for some very interesting games and competition. … There’s a lot to be learned from that first game that we can take away from and apply and play better the next time around.”
Safety Antrel Rolle said he hears Coughlin’s message loud and clear and thinks a win could indeed spark some new life into Big Blue.
“I just want to win a game, period. I’m a winner. We’ve got to go out there and win a game [and] still give ourselves a shot at the postseason – and you can only do that by wining the next game,” said Rolle. “We’re going to fight regardless. In the situation we’re in right now, we have to go out there and fight – play hardnosed football. We all understand what’s at stake. We all understand where he [Coughlin] is coming from with his messages – bounce back … We are going to try to get a win at all costs.”
Bouncing back used to be part of Eli Manning’s mystique, and he’ll need to regain that aura against the Cowboys. Fresh off his five-interception game against the 49ers, the embattled quarterback said he feels he and the team have the ability to block out any distractions, naysayers, or doubts to perform well, Sunday night.
“You’ve just got to turn the page and bounce back quickly. You’ve got to be upbeat and excited about this next opportunity,” Manning said, adding his and the team’s collective psyche is just fine. “You play this game long enough and you’re going to have tough games, bad games, and games that are hard to get over, but you’ve got to put it behind you. You need a short-term memory and can’t let anything get to you … I think I’ve done a good job doing that over my career and I’ve got to do it again this week.”
If Manning and Co. can’t bounce back this week, Big Blue will likely go from a squad that can take one on the chin to a knock-out victim.
Big Blue notes:
Left guard Geoff Schwartz (toe) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring) fully practiced on Wednesday.
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) was limited.
Left tackle Justin Pugh (hip), linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion), and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not practice.
Jenkins was able to participate in the pre-practice walk-through, but was then seen working on the sidelines on his own.