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Too little, too late for Giants

Even when the Giants win, they still lose.

Even when the Giants win, they still lose.

Big Blue held on for a 17-14 win over the Redskins yesterday but were beaten by the Packers for the second straight week. Green Bay earned the NFC’s last wild card spot with a 10-3 win over the Bears. The Giants finished 10-6, becoming the first NFC team to miss the playoffs with double-digit wins since 1991.

There’s still one winner on the Giants, though. Coach Tom Coughlin will return for his eighth season.

“I believe in the guy. I believe in stability,” Giants co-owner John Mara said last night. “The players play hard for him.”

They didn’t play hard enough in one of the NFL’s weaker divisions. Big Blue collapsed down the stretch for the second straight year. After losing eight of 11 to end last season, the Giants dropped two of their last three, including blowing a 21-point fourth quarter lead to Philadelphia two weeks ago.

“When you’re in a position to close it out and you don’t do it, you have no one to blame but yourself,”?linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “[Philadelphia and Green Bay] were must-win games, and we didn’t close it out.”

What went wrong ...

1 Eli crumbled — All the capital Eli Manning earned from that improbable Super Bowl win three years ago has been used up. The Giants’ quarterback, who is playing under a $97.5 million contract, threw his NFL-leading 25th interception yesterday in Washington. And it’s not even the interceptions that kill you, but the lack of leadership afterward. Instead of pulling a Brady on the sidelines, Eli throws a tantrum and trudges off the field.

2 Secondary stomped — Perry Fewell had his moments as the first-year defensive coordinator, but the cornerbacks just aren’t good enough to leave out on an island. Terrell Thomas was burned by Anthony Armstrong for a 64-yard touchdown pass late in the game, as the secondary surrendered 336 yards to Rex Grossman.

3 Kick in the pants — DeSean Jackson’s punt return TD on the final play of the game that gave the Eagles a 38-31 win in Week 15 deflated the Giants. They never got back their swagger.

 
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