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Giants are optimistic despite finish

On Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, the Giants cleaned out their lockers after losing to the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday, and talked about how disappointed they were that the season was over, but they still felt there's reason for optimism about the future. Credit: Handout

The large bags were a mix of clear and dark, scattered in front of lockers for a team about to scatter in 53 different directions — even more, considering the players on injured reserve and the practice squad. The bags were filled with cleats, clothes and memories of a good season that ended badly.

The Giants’ run came to an abrupt halt on the frozen tundra of Green Bay on Sunday. They lost to the Packers, 38-13, in the wild-card round after an 11-5 regular season, which followed four previous seasons without a playoff invitation. So the locker room at their New Jersey training complex Monday was filled with a mix of regret and hope after this one-and-done postseason.

“I hate that we had to go out the way we did, but I’m optimistic about what we can do,” linebacker Devon Kennard said. “For me, there’s no moral victories. Our ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl. We definitely did some things well. It’s not easy to win 11 games in this league. So the fact that we did that is a testament to our coaching staff and the players we have in this locker room.

“But I’m by no means satisfied. I don’t think anybody in this locker room is satisfied with how things ended. It’s going to be motivation for us moving forward.”

The finality stung many Giants more than the 4-degree wind-chill at kickoff.

“This is the first time in a long time I cried after a game,” running back Rashad Jennings said. “When you end the way we ended on countless opportunities that we didn’t cash in on, that’s frustrating. I feel like . . . we just left a lot of ball out there.

“We feel we should be getting ready to go play Dallas and try to beat them for the third time this year. But it didn’t happen . . . It’s not going to be the same 53 roster. What’s discouraging and unfortunate is that’s the last time this unit will ever be together. But what is encouraging is that the guys who come back are going to remember this taste.”

He added, “Listen, we set a heck of a foundation.”

Jennings was one of 32 Giants who gained their first taste of the postseason.

“Experience is a key to a lot of things,” safety Landon Collins said. “In doing so, it’s definitely helped a lot of guys out in having an understanding of how the playoffs is and what it takes to be there and what it takes to win, and being accountable.”

The Giants need to figure out what it takes to score more after failing to hit 20 points in the final six games, their worst streak since 1980, and never reaching 30.

“It was just little stuff that was holding us back,” receiver Sterling Shepard said. “So we’ve just got to focus on the little things going into next season . . . We have the pieces. It’s just a matter of going out and executing.”


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