Linebacker J.T. Thomas was asked the big question after Sunday's second straight loss in which the Giants held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter: Why can't the defense close out games?

"I won't say we can't," he said, "we just haven't yet."

That's pretty clear.

In the last two weeks, the Giants allowed the Cowboys to score twice and the Falcons to score once on critical late-game drives. All three drives resulted in touchdowns. In those three drives, the opponent faced third down just twice. The Cowboys scored the game-winning touchdown on a third-down play, and the Falcons converted a third-and-6 with a 17-yard gain.

The totals of the three drives: 19 plays, 218 yards in a time of 6:18.

"That's what it boils down to, us being able to make plays against their offense," Thomas said. "We've seen our guys do it and we're confident that they can. In critical situations, being able to experience some of these things early in the season are things that are going to help us be better as the season continues to go on."

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The problem is that the help may be too late. Yes, the division is in disarray right now, but the Giants are a big part of that muddled mess and have shown no signs that they will be able to snap out of it.

"I'm not concerned," Thomas said. "There are a lot of good things to take away from this game. Of course the loss is not one of them. We want to be in position to end the games where the defense has a chance to take the field and win ballgames for us. That's what it's going to take for us to be a good ball club."