NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — It’s one thing to say the Giants still have their playoff destiny in their own hands.
It’s another believing they will do anything with it, especially after the way they played Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
With first place in the NFC East on the line, the Giants showed no desire and embarrassed themselves in a 23-10 loss to a team that had lost eight of nine games and has been eliminated from postseason contention.
“Call it whatever you wanted,” Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. “Stunned. Shocked. Appalled, all that stuff. That’s a tough loss to swallow. But unfortunately we’ve been here before, and we’ll get back.”
The loss was the fifth in six games for the Giants (7-7) and left them a game behind Dallas (8-6) in the division race with two games left in the regular season.
“I told the players that I just expected to see more,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “We didn’t look like the team that played (last) Sunday night.”
The Giants will face the rival Jets on Saturday, while the Cowboys will be home against the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8), who still have a shot at the division title after ripping the Jets 45-19. The Giants and Cowboys will play here on the final weekend of the season.
If Coughlin’s team wins out, it will capture the NFC East and return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.
Winning two in a row though seems to be asking a lot from a team that was dominated by the Redskins (5-9).
“I’m very disappointed in how we played today,” Coughlin said. “I accept responsibility for it. But I expected to see more — quality execution — and we didn’t get that.”
What made the performance so disappointing was that it came a week after the Giants rallied late in the fourth quarter to beat the Cowboys on the road and move back into first place.
Instead of building off that game, the Giants didn’t show up and Rex Grossman and the Redskins built a 17-0 lead.
“We looked like the four-win team out there today rather than the Redskins,” defensive tackle Chris Canty said. “It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed.”
Safety Antrel Rolle, who has talked a better game than he has played lately, said the Giants need everyone on the practice field this week and they have to start playing with passion.
“It’s football, man,” Rolle said. “Need I say more? If you don’t got it in the heart, I don’t know. We’re 10 times better than what we showed out there on the field today. I don’t know man, I don’t know. I don’t know.”
The Redskins were the only ones who looked like a playoff team in embarrassing the Giants for the second time this season.
“I don’t feel like we had enough ‘fighting mode’ to come back in this game,” said Rolle.
Grossman threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Santana Moss, Darrel Young scored on a 6-yard run after one of the Redskins’ interceptions against Eli Manning, and Graham Gano kicked three field goals and Washington controlled the ball for 35 minutes.
Grossman, who was 15 of 24 for 185 yards, was more interested in the Redskins than the Giants.
“You go out, you execute, and you win,” he said. “That’s plenty of gratification and that’s all we really care about. Spoiler? I don’t really have an opinion on who makes the playoffs.”
The Giants obviously are concerned about the postseason.
“I still have confidence,” Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “We laid an egg today, but I’ve seen us rebound from things like this a lot of times. There’s no quit in our guys. This was kind of an eye-opener. We have to keep the intensity going the whole game, and we didn’t maintain it today.
Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield enjoyed spoiling the party hopes of his former teammates.
“A party broke out for us. I’m proud of how we came out and played,” Cofield said, adding Washington has played well in recent weeks.
This marks the third straight year the Giants have seen their playoff hopes slip in the second half of the season and the fans weren’t happy with them Sunday. The stadium was almost empty when Ahmad Bradshaw scored with less than a minute to play.
Manning finished 23 of 40 for 257 yards. Lawrence Tynes had a 40-yard field goal for New York’s only points in the first half.
The Giants were their own worst enemy. Hakeem Nicks dropped what might have been a 54-yard scoring play on their second series on a play in which he got behind the defense and had the pass hit off his facemask as he looked back into the sun.
NOTES: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul followed his NFC defensive player of the week award with a 16-tackle performance that included a sack. … Giants DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) and C David Baas (neck) each missed their third straight game. …London Fletcher led the Skins with 12 tackles. … CB Josh Wilson had Washington’s other interception, picking off Manning’s pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. .. .CB Corey Webster and S Kenny Phillips had the Giants’ interceptions.
Do you have faith that the Giants will win out and make the playoffs? Sound off below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)