Jon Beason sounded angry.

"We still, for some reason, collectively, have this problem with finishing," the defensive captain said Friday. "We all realize we've all got a hand in this and it's bad."

Wait, didn't the Giants . . . win? Didn't they snap their two-game losing streak with a 32-21 victory over Washington on Thursday night, giving themselves a much-needed sigh of relief with 10 days until their next game? Didn't they become, as Tom Coughlin said, "relevant" in the NFC East?

Yes. But just as platform dives and gymnastic routines are judged mostly by the way they end, the Giants still are grouchy about their ability to close out opponents.

They went three-and-out with two minutes remaining and allowed 15 fourth-quarter points, including a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Washington had 33 offensive snaps in the final period. The Giants most definitely did not stick the landing. "We do need to understand how to finish better than we did," Coughlin said.

"You always want to be a team that's known to finish strong," Beason said. "I don't want other opposing teams to think, 'Hey, we're playing the Giants. Whether they have a big lead or we keep it close, we know in the fourth quarter they're going to give us this and that.' You don't want to be that. That's something we have to put more emphasis on and we have to figure out what the issue is, because you just can't be consistent in this league and try to win games if you're doing that."

There was a part of them, of course, that recognized that there are no style points in the NFL. A win is a win. And so it was a much more easygoing day for the team on Friday -- especially with the next opponent more than a week away.

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"This is certainly a lot more fun than it's been the last couple weeks," Coughlin said. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say we didn't enjoy our meeting time today.""It was a Thursday night game, so guys can go see their families this weekend, which is nice," offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. "It's something that we've been so close to the past two weeks, to finally get over that hump and to win the game is definitely huge. Hopefully it's the spark that gets us going and really sets the tone for this next part of the season."

At the very least, it allowed the Giants to keep pace -- even if it is a sloth's pace -- in the division.

"I think we're very, very much in the thick of things with it being just Week 3," Beason said. "To get the win was huge, knowing that we can, knowing that we are a good football team. We need to start thinking that. The way we are in the locker room, outside the doors, the way we carry ourselves in the community here, we're a great football team and we have a chance to go far if we decide to do that."

Notes & quotes: Coughlin said the plan is to have WR Victor Cruz (calf) practice next week and play in the Oct. 4 game against the Bills. "I hope so," Coughlin said. "That's what we're being told." It would be Cruz's first game action since he tore his patellar tendon last October. He's been sidelined by a calf injury since Aug. 19. . . Beason (knee) said he was sore after his first game of the season. He played 28 defensive snaps . . . Coughlin said CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion) will return next week. He did not know about LT Ereck Flowers (ankle).