Recognizing that the likelihood of ending this season as champs is all but gone, the Giants are instead focusing on the avoidance of being "chumps."
That's what Antrel Rolle and others said Wednesday as the team began preparing for its final regular-season game against the Eagles and, barring a confluence of events of staggering proportions, the Giants' final game as defending Super Bowl winners.
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"Going out there, hopefully going out there and getting a win against a division opponent, it's just going to take care of that day," Rolle said. "Will it help the season or make you feel any better about the season? Probably not. But you know, it will make us feel better about that day, understand that we didn't go out like chumps. We're fighters and at least we'll have a fighting chance at that point."
Although he did not use those words exactly, Tom Coughlin presented the team with a similar message, imploring them to "resurrect a little bit of pride here in our last game."
"That's what I talked to our team about this morning was pride, honor, dignity, playing the game the way we're capable of playing the game," Coughlin said. "Finish the season with a game we can all be proud of."
Even if they do and trounce the Eagles, they could still miss the playoffs. That scenario might help end the season on something of an upswing, but it will not go far toward soothing the disappointment of a season without a postseason appearance.
"I have a short memory and I've got these two games," Coughlin said of the losses to the Falcons and Ravens by a combined 67-14 when asked if a dominant effort on Sunday will be enough to give him some pride in the 2012 season. "I'm proud of the individuals, I'm not proud of what's been accomplished."
It isn't often that the Giants are reduced to playing for pride's sake, and they do have a thread of hope to make the playoffs. They have to beat the Eagles, have the Vikings and Bears lose, and have the Cowboys either lose to or tie the Redskins.
For a team that was as deflated as it was after Sunday's loss to the Ravens, a game after which even Coughlin conceded that the playoff chances were "remote," getting back up for this game will be a challenge.
"It's a little difficult," Victor Cruz said. "Understanding that we've got to win this ballgame, and potentially still get in, even though some of us are definitely disappointed. By no means are we satisfied with our position right now, because this isn't where we saw ourselves a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, we're not satisfied. But we have to come out and play some good football, win this ballgame, and kind of sit back and see what happens."
Maybe they'll get one last taste of playing like champs. Or they could, as Rolle said, finish the season as chumps.
"We're going to find out a lot about a lot of guys in this locker room based off this game," Rolle said. "Their approach, how you go out there and play the game, I think it's going to speak volumes for the kind of caliber guys we have in this locker room."