Indianapolis - Giants coach Tom Coughlin made no excuses in the immediate aftermath of the Giants' late-season problems that cost them a playoff berth. But after a few weeks of reflection, Coughlin thinks the injuries were a bigger factor than he initially let on.
"I’m not going to use any excuses," Coughlin said today during a press briefing at the NFL Scouting Combine. "The one thing the coach wants is to have his team together at the end of the season, but [not having that] was a factor."
The Giants were 9-4 and seemingly headed for a playoff berth with a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead over the Eagles. But in a stunning meltdown, the Giants surrendered 28 points in the game's final eight minutes to lose, 38-31. They lost the following week in Green Bay to fall to 9-6, and even a win over the Redskins on the final week wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs.
The Giants suffered injuries to starting receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, and defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was also lost with a season-ending neck injury.
"At times during the season, I came away from games saying we may really have something here," Coughlin said. "As soon as I said that, Steve Smith had his knee problems. It's not all about that. Everyone overcomes injuries. There were games we didn't play as well. The No. 1 factor was the turnovers. You lead the league in takeaways but you lead it in giveaways. Had that been more in the norm for our team, I think we could have probably won two more games, at least. That certainly was huge part of it, but it wouldn’t be fair or honest if asked the question and I ignored the fact that some of the players were not able to play. The injury factor really did take a toll."