After pathetic start, Giants number is up

Justin Tuck sits on the bench during the Justin Tuck sits on the bench during the second half of a game against the Carolina Panthers. (Sept. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Bob Glauber Newsday columnist Bob Glauber

Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets and

The number is printed on a sheet of paper in the middle of a bulletin board at one end of the Giants' locker room. It is in full view of any player who walks by on his way to the cafeteria, meeting rooms and practice fields.

It is a stark reminder of just how pathetic the team's situation has become three weeks into a season that look as if it might turn out to be one of the worst in recent memory. And perhaps the worst in the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning era.

131.

It's the number of days until Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, the place where the Giants play their home games, the place that's just a few hundred yards across the parking lot from their training facility.

The place that now seems impossibly far away after a humiliating performance in a 38-0 loss to the Panthers. The Giants are 0-3, they've played progressively worse in each successive week, and it feels as if there's no end in sight to the miserable performances. Up next: at the 3-0 Chiefs, who might be the most improved NFL team this season.

Coughlin is left to wonder when the losing will end. So much so that he's exhorting his players not to fracture despite the difficult circumstances.

"We need to stick together, stay together," he told reporters Monday, a day after the worst loss since Coughlin took over as head coach in 2004. "We don't finger point. We don't blame anybody. There's no excuses."

Coughlin later suggested he had appealed to the players' pride when he met with them during a team meeting. Pride? In September? Whoa. You almost never hear that word in an NFL locker room until late November or December, and usually when a team is out of playoff contention.

After all, it was only a few weeks ago the Giants came into the season brimming with optimism, hopeful of a turnaround season that would lift them into the playoffs and catapult them to the Super Bowl.

Three games into the season, they are left to wonder when they'll actually win a game.

This is now a disturbing trend that has carried over from the second half of last season, when the Giants collapsed after a 6-2 start. They wound up losing five of their last eight games.

Why, if they had the talent to win a championship not even two years ago, do they appear so far away from even thinking about winning another now?

"Each year is a new year and each situation is a totally different situation," Coughlin said. "We're scratching and biting to try to find answers."

So far, there have been none, only an increasingly mind-numbing sequence of mistakes on the field.

"When you lose, 38-0, anything you say about us is probably deserved to be said," Manning said. "It's something we're not happy about as players. You're embarrassed about it. We've got to fix it. The only way to change that or get people saying something different is to go out this next week and play better than we did last week."

The Giants can at least take some solace that the NFC East as a whole is pretty awful right now. The Redskins are 0-3, the Eagles 1-2, and Dallas has the early advantage at 2-1. But the way the Giants are playing, it doesn't matter what the other teams are doing.

Already, time is running out; 131 days until it's all over.

And the Giants see someone else playing in the Super Bowl.

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