ATLANTA -- Here we are again.
For the third straight year, the Giants have lost a Week 15 game in crippling fashion to lose control of their own destiny.
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Two years ago, a collapse against the Eagles helped keep the Giants out of the playoffs for a second straight season. In 2011, a flat loss to the Redskins jeopardized their playoff hopes, although they rebounded to win six straight and a Super Bowl.
On Sunday the Giants were blown away by the Falcons, 34-0, to lose control of their own fate in the NFC East race.
"We have had crappy games like this and came right back out and played like Super Bowl champions," Justin Tuck said. "No, my confidence is not shaken."
Still, even Tuck had to admit that this was the worst loss at the worst time among all of those slip-ups.
The been-there, done-that story line is starting to wear thin with the players.
"That don't mean nothing," Jason Pierre-Paul said. "That was last year. All that talk that we been here before, forget all that. I'm tired of hearing it. We just have to go out and play. There's no 'we been here before.' "
The Giants always say they play their best with their backs against the wall. The Falcons may have pushed them through the wall and out onto the street.
The Giants have two games remaining -- against the Ravens and the Eagles -- and will need help to capture the division title. If the Giants win those two games, they can't be eliminated from playoff contention because they hold tie-breakers over the Bears and Vikings for the wild card and either the Cowboys or Redskins will lose in Week 17 when they face each other. But the Giants hardly looked like a playoff team against the Falcons.
Tom Coughlin, who called the final four games of the season must-wins, now faces a remaining schedule that is half as long and twice as significant. He believes the Giants can rebound from this loss.
"There is a lot of fire and a lot of character in that locker room," he said. "We have to come back from a devastating loss and shake it off somehow, some way. We have to come back as competitors and prepare ourselves for a very difficult game next Sunday and then one to follow."
The Giants could become the first defending Super Bowl champion to miss the playoffs since the 2009 Steelers.
"I'm not worried at all, man," Hakeem Nicks said. "In our profession, two weeks is a lot of time. We just have to win our last two games, we have to do what we need to do, and I have faith that the favor will be our way."