The Giants are about as beat down mentally as they are physically. And if that’s not bad enough, Big Blue is currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak with the defending champion Packers up next.
Following Monday night’s shellacking at the hands of the Saints, head coach Tom Coughlin has had to quickly circle the wagons and remind his team that they’re still worthy of playoff contention.
Justin Tuck, who’s in the midst of one his worst seasons yet, used words like “embarrassed” when talking about the consequences of not being ready this weekend both mentally and physically for the high-powered Packers (11-0). Tuck, who’s battled injuries all season, said now is the time for the Giants to show critics this season won’t end like recent seasons past.
“It’s tough, because we know in the back of everyone’s head they are going to say, ‘What’s wrong with the Giants’ after three straight losses,” Tuck said. “But for us, we look forward to the next game because we feel like it’s the playoffs right now. We aren’t going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We are going to go out there and fight.”
Antrel Rolle, who is always good for a feisty sound bite, said no one is going to feel sorry for Big Blue.
“We’re going to fight. I don’t care what corner we’re going to back ourselves up to,” Rolle said. “We are professional football players. We are the New York football Giants. We are not going to go out without a fight.”
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How much fight the Giants can put up physically depends on who is actually healthy enough to dress. Wednesday’s pre-practice injury report read like a medieval scroll.
Starting left tackle Will Beatty was placed on injured reserve (IR) following eye surgery for a detached retina late last week. Beatty was also suffering from a back ailment that caused him to miss the Saints game. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle sprain) missed the second half of the Saints game and Coughlin said that “chances are” Umenyiora won’t play Sunday. Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who was already filling in for the injured Michael Boley (hamstring), also hurt his foot in the Saints game and was seen around the team’s facilities in a walking boot.
Such maladies would break most teams, but Coughlin said his squad is resilient. He added it’s not like they have a choice because the league slows down for no team.
“We can’t get down and we can’t get frustrated,” said Manning. “We have to figure out how to bounce back. We know we’ve lost three straight games and we know we have a short week and a big game coming up. These last five games for us are big and will determine our season. We just need to figure out how to play better football than what we are doing right now.”
If it’s any consolation, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said via Wednesday’s conference call that he certainly sees the Giants as a viable threat to end their unbeaten season. Rodgers considers himself a historian of the game and referenced two other times when the Giants ended late-season unbeaten streaks — 1998 versus a 13-0 Broncos team and of course Super Bowl XLII when they knocked off the 18-0 Patriots.
“That’s a talented team over there,” Rodgers said, specifically pumping up their defense. “There’s a lot of guys with a lot of pride, so I’m not putting a lot of weight on [the Saints game].”
Big Blue notes
»The Giants enter Sunday’s game having been outscored a whopping 93-54 during their three-game skid. The putrid performance on Monday night also gave way to numerous benchmarks for futility. The 25-point loss to the Saints was their worst since a 45-17 loss in Green Bay (Dec. 26, 2010); New Orleans’ 49 points were the most allowed by the Giants since a 50-21 loss to Washington (Sept. 19, 1999). They had not allowed more than 45 points since their last visit to New Orleans, a 48-27 defeat (Oct. 18, 2009). The Saints gained 577 total yards, the second-highest total ever allowed by the Giants and the most they have surrendered in 68 years (The Bears gained 682 yards on Nov. 14, 1943); New Orleans’ 205 rushing yards were the most by a Giants opponent in exactly a year (Jaguars, 207 yards on Nov. 28, 2010); The Saints’ 372 net passing yards were the most allowed by the Giants since Green Bay (396 yards on Dec. 26); New Orleans’ 31 first downs were the most by a Giants opponent since Tennessee had 31 (overtime on Dec. 1, 2002) and the most in a four-quarter game since San Diego also had 31 (Oct. 19, 1980); The Saints scored seven touchdowns. The last Giants opponent to score seven touchdowns was New Orleans (Oct. 18, 2009); The Giants trailed at halftime, 21-3, making the fourth consecutive game in which they did not score a first-half touchdown; The Giants’ defense did not have a sack for the first time since Nov. 14, 2010 vs. Dallas; The Giants did not force a turnover, ending their NFL-long streak of 23 consecutive games with at least one takeaway. The last time they did not have a takeaway was on Sept. 26, 2010 vs. Tennessee.
»Manning’s 47 attempts were his highest total since he threw 48 passes vs. Dallas (Nov. 14, 2010). Manning also shattered a team record by completing 21 consecutive passes from the late second quarter to late in the fourth. That is tied for the sixth-longest streak in NFL history and is the longest since his brother Peyton hit 23 straight on Dec. 18, 2008. It was the longest one-game streak since David Carr, who’s now Manning’s backup, completed 22 consecutive passes for Houston (Nov. 19, 2006). Phil Simms owned the franchise’s previous record (13 in a row at Cincinnati on Oct. 13, 1985).
Manning has now thrown for 3,358 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He is the fifth quarterback in NFL history with seven consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdown passes. The other four quarterbacks to accomplish the feat are Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino and Brees.
»Running back Brandon Jacobs scored his 53rd career rushing touchdown, leaving him two behind franchise record-holder Tiki Barber.
»When the Giants faced the then-winless Dolphins he implored the team to “ignore” their terrible record. But now that they’re facing the league’s lone unbeaten team, Coughlin has gone the other way and embraced the challenge, openly talking to his team about ending the streak: “We’re blatantly honest about this.”
»Taking Beatty’s place on the roster will be a familiar name: linebacker Chase Blackburn. With injuries to both Herzlich and Boley, bringing back Blackburn made too much sense. Blackburn played on the Giants from 2005 until last year and can play all three linebacker spots. Blackburn is also a special teams ace, having been Big Blue’s special teams captain last season.
Beatty’s replacement in the lineup will be last season’s starting left tackle David Diehl, while Kevin Boothe will take Diehl’s vacated left guard spot.
» The Giants made another roster move by signing wideout/return specialist Isiah Stanback to their practice squad. To make room for the former Cowboy, quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was waived yet again. It was sixth time Perilloux was released this season.
»The Giants’ pre-practice injury list was extensive: wideouts Mario Manningham (knee) and Victor Cruz (hip); linebackers Herzlich (ankle) and Boley (hamstring); running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot); cornerback Derrick Martin (hamstring); and defensive ends Justin Tuck (ankle) and Umenyiora (ankle/knee).
» It was not all bad this week for the Giants, as their 2011 Ring of Honor class was announced. Five new faces will be formally introduced during Sunday’s game: running back Alex Webster, linebackers Brad Van Pelt and Carl Banks, tight end Mark Bavaro and punter Dave Jennings. Bavaro was humbled by the honor: “It’s an honor. It’s great company to be in. It’s very fitting I’m going in with Carl Banks. He helped me become a better player by practicing against him all the time.” Banks, who many thought should’ve been inducted into last year’s inaugural class, was also taken aback: “I’m honored and humbled and I never expected it. That’s not why I played. I played to help my team, but I’m glad it’s happening.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for team news throughout the week from practice leading up to the game.