Giants lacking ability to finish games this year

Eli Manning looks on in the fourth quarter

Eli Manning looks on in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 6, 2013) (Credit: Mike Stobe)

Justin Tuck said something Sunday that he's said before in seasons past.

"I think I'd rather get blown out than to think I have a chance of winning one and losing at the end," he said. "That's tough, man."

What makes it even tougher is that the Giants haven't had many opportunities for an either/or among those choices. They are in almost every game deep into the second half before a sudden outburst of points from the opponent leaves them in the dust. The final score is lopsided, but the majority of the play is not.

The main reason for the Giants' abysmal 0-5 start is that they aren't able to finish. That word, finish, was a key to their Super Bowl run less than two years ago. Now it's a foreign term to this team.

The way these games spiral out of control so quickly is a phenomenon. The Giants lost to the Broncos by 18 points, to the Chiefs by 24 points, and to the Eagles by 15 points. All of them were three-point games or less late in the third quarter or into the fourth, the types of games Tuck says he wouldn't choose to lose. And yet each of them ended with the Giants at least two touchdowns behind.

Tom Coughlin addressed the frustration over these short but costly gaps last week, before the most recent one against the Eagles.

"It's not the third quarter," he said. "It's three minutes to go in the third quarter. Very deep into the third quarter where we're very much in the game. We're right there to make a play, to put ourselves into position to win the fourth quarter, win the game, and we haven't done it."

So what happened?

On Sunday, it was a span of 2:03 that doomed the Giants. Eli Manning threw his first interception with 10:35 remaining in the game and the Giants trailing 22-21. By the time there was 8:32 left he'd already thrown a second and the Eagles scored two touchdowns to make it 36-21.

A week earlier, it was 10-7 until Dexter McCluster returned a punt 88 yards with 1:34 left in the third quarter. The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their next two possessions and wound up with a 31-7 win.

Perhaps the most startling blitzkrieg against the Giants was dealt by the Broncos. Brandon Jacobs scored a touchdown with 3:08 left in the third quarter to cut Denver's lead to 17-16, and the Giants had a chance to take the lead had Mark Herzlich been able to hold onto a fumble that the Broncos recovered. Instead, the Broncos marched on and scored three touchdowns in 5:12 to go ahead 38-16 in their 41-23 romp.

"It's frustrating," Spencer Paysinger said. "You play your heart out, this is your profession, and the fact that it doesn't go your way as a team when you don't play a complete game, it kind of stings a little bit."

Tuck said that was why many of the players were so deflated after Sunday's loss. Because it was there. The crowd was into it.

"That was reminiscent of better times here," he said. "That's why you see guys a little bit more down than normal because we haven't played four quarters yet. We've been in football games and, I mean, it's tough . . . We just have to figure out a way to finish that, to keep the positive momentum in our favor."

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