It hasn’t been a full 24 hours yet since Big Blue’s deplorable opening day loss, which means wounds are still open.
Fresh off their unbelievable 27-26 last-second loss to the Dallas Cowboys, head coach Tom Coughlin admitted emotions are still raw.
“It certainly doesn’t feel any better today than last night. I feel very badly for our team. They played hard and gave good effort,” said Coughlin. “The football wasn’t perfect and we were deficient at times. I’m disappointed and upset about it. The players feel bad, too, but this is something we will bounce back from.”
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Big Blue entered AT&T Stadium as the inferior squad – or so many pundits believed. But for 58-plus minutes, they were better than the Cowboys and seemed as if they could be much better than anybody thought they would be. That notion went up in smoke with 1:35 remaining in the game and nursing a six-point lead, leaving Coughlin and Co. in disbelief and already searching deep down to see if they have the resiliency to put that Dallas horror show behind them and focus on their next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons.
The coach relayed the message he told his team upon getting back to New Jersey, adding it’s imperative for all to get rest – and have amnesia.
“There’s not much sleep upon getting home. The guys were tired, sad, and disappointed. Following a game like that, it’s been a different kind of day,” said Coughlin. “But we talked about going forward. Sometimes it’s a couple days for a game like that to [emotionally] hit you, so I told them to get some rest early tonight and tomorrow night. I told them to just be ready and rested to get back to work on Wednesday.”
Defensive end Cullen Jenkins noted it’s certainly difficult to immediately put that loss on the back-burner, but added the task to rally the team is up to the veterans.
“We need to stay positive and rally together. It’s definitely one of the toughest losses I’ve ever had in my career. We’ll get through this together,” Jenkins said. “I thought we were playing well. We were fighting, playing physical, and rallying to the ball. It’s something we can build off of. It’s a start.”
The Giants completely muffed the end of a winnable game, and by doing so, their playoff window lowered slightly. Sure, it was only one game, but with the margin of error already so small for a team that many predicted would have a difficult time even going .500, Sunday night’s loss could be a bad omen.
The Giants won’t be heading anywhere but another playoff-less campaign if they don’t shore up execution and decision making. Perhaps the most damning issue with the loss is not the defeat itself, but how they earned it. Offensively, they failed to burn the clock. But perhaps as alarming was the lack of passion and aggression on the defensive end down the stretch, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was able to march down the field. Gone was the aggressiveness. There weren’t any blitzes, creative stunts, or twists. Instead, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo schemed for his defense to flood the secondary. Alas, Romo went 5-of-6 for 72 yards on that drive.
Coaching scared is as egregious as playing scared, and the coaching staff essentially did nothing as Dallas stole the victory.
“We need to be more of an aggressor. We didn’t give them much opposition,” Coughlin lamented.
Big Blue better shake whatever doldrums remain, as their home opener is coming up. And it’s highly unlikely that Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. will have sympathy for any possible hangover.
Big Blue notes:
-Despite yielding the game-winning touchdown catch to tight end Jason Witten, undrafted rookie linebacker Uani Unga played well. Starting for injured captain Jon Beason (knee), Unga registered a team-high 12 tackles and had an interception.
-Coughlin said there’s no updates on wideout Victor Cruz (calf) or linebacker Jon Beason (knee).
-Left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) will be further evaluated and undergo an MRI. Coughlin added that the rookie played well, even after tweaking the ankle.
-Coughlin reiterated that the blame falls at his feet regarding the Giants’ final offensive drive: “The responsibility and management of time and play-calling are mine, so this goes to me and no one else. We were within striking distance of being 10-points up, and that’s all I wanted. They had a history of going down the field and scoring late on us, and I felt that would’ve been enough, especially with no timeouts and very little time.”