GREEN BAY, Wis. - If the Giants do not make the playoffs this season, they can sum up their frustrations in one word: Turnovers.
On Sunday they committed six of them - four interceptions and two fumbles - that thwarted their efforts to clinch a playoff spot by beating the Packers. Although Eli Manning threw four interceptions (three in the fourth quarter), it was the two third-quarter fumbles by Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs that really allowed the game - and perhaps the season - to unravel.
"The turnovers always kill us," Jacobs said. "That makes it 10 times worse."
Bradshaw had lost his job as the starting running back mostly because of his inability to hang on to the football, and since then, he'd been good at keeping it.
But on the first drive of the third quarter, with the game well within reach, he fumbled away a direct snap that gave the Packers field position for a field goal. It was his seventh fumble of the season and the sixth one he lost.
Later in the third quarter, Jacobs took a handoff and ran 21 yards down the right sideline. Clay Matthews, whom Jacobs had cut inside of at the line of scrimmage, was trailing the play and punched the ball out from behind.
"We get going for the first time all game with the running game, maybe we can strike some momentum, and that happens to us," Jacobs said. "I have no explanation whatsoever.
"I'm tired of giving explanations. There's no explanation. You're not supposed to turn the ball over as much as we do."
After a scramble for the ball along the sideline, Kevin Boss had a chance to recover the fumble, but rather than fall on it, the tight end tried to pick it up and advance it. Boss never got a grip on the ball and it ultimately was recovered by the Packers.
"Obviously, I should have just gone ahead and fallen on it," Boss said.
Manning's first interception was a classic case of trying to take too much. He attempted to reach Hakeem Nicks deep down the field on a third-and-11 pass instead of checking down to a wide-open Bradshaw in the middle of the field. Nicks wound up out of position on the pass anyway, and Tramon Williams easily intercepted the pass with two teammates around him.
Manning's second and third interceptions were on desperation passes. The first was picked off by Sam Shields on a sideline pass intended for Derek Hagan and the second was a ball he tossed up for Mario Manningham in double coverage. Nick Collins came down with that one with 6:15 left in the game.
The fourth one, a pass intended for Bradshaw, was intercepted by A.J. Hawk.