The Giants have not splintered. They have not given up. They have not turned on each other. Those are some of the few accomplishments by this year's team of which Tom Coughlin said he is proud.
"It's not easy,'' he said.
But although it may be noble that they are putting up such a fight in the face of games many would call meaningless, it also is the most damning part of the last few weeks of their seven-game skid. As they head to Nashville to face the Titans on Sunday, the Giants have proved to the world that they are not quitters.
They're just bad.
It actually might be easier if they had some kind of crumbling locker room to point to as a reason for the mounting losses. If they weren't giving maximum effort, there would be some bizarre consolation in that. We may be losing, but if we tried harder . . .
Instead, they just seem incapable of winning.
The last two games marked the first time in their history that the Giants lost consecutive games after leading by at least 11 points at halftime in each.
They scored 21 points in the first half of each of those games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in Giants history that they scored at least that many points in the first half of back-to-back games and lost both of them.
They have lost the last three games in which they owned a halftime lead. They last did that in a single season in 1994.
Their last three losses have come by a total of 10 points. That hadn't happened since 1974.
The Giants used to believe that in close games, they would find a way to pull out a victory. Eli Manning would come to the rescue. The defense would make a key stop. No longer.
They've been outscored 109-34 in the third quarter of their games, the league's worst point differential in that period, and 189-112 in the second half of their games. That's second-worst in the league.
"We still feel if we can get the ball with enough time, we're going to be able to go down there and score,'' Manning, once the master of the dramatic comeback drive, said this past week. "It's one of those deals where the last couple of weeks, we have gone down to take the lead in the fourth quarter. We're just leaving too much time for the opposing team or getting a field goal instead of getting a touchdown. We still feel we can go score when we need to at times in some crucial moments. We just have to know if we get the opportunity, we'll make it happen and we'll get the win.''
Bless his heart.
"I don't know why we're not finishing games, that's something that is still to be determined,'' safety Antrel Rolle said. "If I had to pinpoint something, I would definitely say your mind frame, your drive, your 'want to.' You have to keep your foot on the pedal. Like we saw last week in Jacksonville, they got an ounce of life and took it and ran with it.''
Through it all, the Giants have managed to stick together. There have been some criticisms of play-calling and strategy, but that mostly has been frustration leaking out immediately after games. When the Giants point fingers, they are more apt to do it at themselves and fight over accepting responsibility.
In the past few weeks, Coughlin, Manning, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and several others have taken "full responsibility'' for shortcomings that, in honest analysis, do not fully belong to any one person.
If only they jumped on loose fumbles the way they seem to want to dive on top of the blame grenade that is rolling around the locker room.
When adversity hits football teams -- especially ones such as the Giants, for whom expectations were high -- they often crumble into chaos.
"That is not going to happen here,'' Rolle said. "That is not what we are about.''
That's fine. But wouldn't it be simpler to pin all this losing on players who have bagged the season rather than face the reality that the Giants are really good at staying together through adversity . . . but not much else?
"No, that would not be easier,'' Manning said. "We don't want that. That's not good for anybody. We're not going to have that. We're going to keep fighting and we're going to keep working and improving and find a way to get this win.''
Notes & quotes:Mark Herzlich, James Brewer and Jacquian Williams are out due to concussions. Without Herzlich, the Giants waived defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton and added linebacker/defensive end Paul Hazel from the practice squad. Running back Rashad Jennings is listed as questionable with a sprained ankle, but he made the trip to Nashville and if he plays will be a game-time decision.