Some players will point to the X's and O's as a reason for a defeat. Tuesday, when reflecting on the 17-16 loss to the Redskins on Monday night and some others in the Giants' recent slide, Antrel Rolle seemed to be blaming it on the xoxo's.
The Giants, he said, are a bit too lovey-dovey with their opponents, particularly in the days leading up to games, and they need to stop it.
"I think we need to start giving more credit after the game as opposed to before the game and leading up to the game," Rolle said in his weekly radio spot on WFAN.
"Personally, that's something I haven't been too fond of. Do I respect my opponents? Yes, I respect them. I'll give credit where credit is due. But I'm not going to kiss anyone's butt before the game. That's something that I'm never, ever going to do as long as I'm playing the game of football . . . We'll give loves and kisses after the game, but while the game is on we're respecting no one. That's how the game of football has to be played."
The Giants have faced some dynamic players lately, from a pre-injury Ben Roethlisberger to Aaron Rodgers to Robert Griffin III. Many Giants were very impressed with Griffin after their first meeting in October and let those feelings be known leading up to Monday's game.
The Redskins certainly had no problem making their animosity toward the Giants known. ESPN reported that some Redskins coaches and staffers had pasted up quotes from Giants president and CEO John Mara last week in which he publicly scolded the Redskins for abusing the system during the uncapped year in 2010. The Redskins were penalized $36 million in cap space over two seasons. Mara, chairman of the NFL's management committee, was quoted as saying the Redskins (and Cowboys) were "lucky they didn't lose draft picks" and "I thought the penalties imposed were proper."
Then, after the game, multiple outlets reported that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walked into the winning locker room, shook hands with one of his lieutenants and chirped: "I hate those ---- ."
Justin Tuck shared a moment on the field with Griffin and offered what he said were "encouraging" words.
"I think we just need to get back to being a little nasty, having a nasty attitude,'' Rolle said, "and like I say, don't do anything outside the lines of football but have a little bit more nasty attitude and have a little bit more dog in us. Go out there and play the game. Play the game physical, play the game tough, play the game hard."
The Giants didn't do that for long stretches in the second half Monday night. It wasn't only Rolle who noticed it. Tom Coughlin scratched his head immediately after the game.
"I don't know what happened in the second half," he said. "We certainly didn't come out and play."
"They outworked us," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We got outworked in the second half . . . We just didn't execute our plays the right way and play to the whistle and it wound up biting us."
It was after a difficult loss to the Redskins in Week 15 last year that Rolle spoke out about the Giants' lack of toughness. The players responded -- not only to that battle cry but to other impetuses -- by winning six straight games, including the Super Bowl. Perhaps Rolle's words after this loss to the Redskins will have a similar effect.
"I don't see enough dog out there on the field," Rolle said, the term "dog" his pet word for the ferocity and anger of a wild dog. "I don't see enough dog, I don't see enough manhandling out there, and I don't see us putting opponents away who we know we could.
"We're a very dominant team, we're a very good and gifted football team, and sometimes it shows and sometimes it doesn't, which leads to the inconsistency. But we need to go out there and play ball, man . . . have that dog mentality, and go out there and make it happen."