It’s come to this for the Giants.
“I’m going to be cheering for Dallas hard [Monday night],” Justin Pugh said in the postgame locker room. “We don’t have to play them again, so I’m hoping Dallas goes and handles some business and at that time we’re still tied for first.”
The hated Cowboys face first-place Washington Monday night. A Dallas win — something they haven’t accomplished without Tony Romo at quarterback this year — would create a three-way tie for the NFC East lead at 5-7 with the Cowboys a game behind. A Washington win would give them a full one-game lead with four games to play.
Either way, the Giants are far from eliminated. It’s just that they have done little in the last month to show they are capable of winning a game, never mind a division.
“We have everything we need in front of us,” Pugh said. “We can’t let these three games characterize us. That’s something I’ve learned from the past two seasons. We can’t have a stretch of games where you lose five in a row, so we have to bounce back.”
There have only been two teams in NFL history to make the postseason with a losing record in a non-strike year, and both have come in recent history. The 2010 Seahawks were 7-9 and won the division in a tiebreaker with the Rams. Last year the Panthers won the NFC South at 7-8-1, edging the 7-9 Saints by winning percentage points.
There seems to be a pretty decent chance that this year’s NFC East winner will also be in that immediate .500 range. So, why not the Giants?
“We make this last run and we put it together, we’re going to be a scary team to play,” Pugh said, looking ahead to the possibility of the Giants in January. “Every single team we played, we’ve had a legitimate shot to beat those teams. If you go into the playoffs and say, ‘Who is a scary team to play?’ I think no one is going to want to play us because we have nothing to lose, we can go out and make some big plays.
“But we have to get in,” he added. “We have to make a better effort to close out games. We can’t keep trying to say we’re learning from our mistakes. We have to go out there and do it or else we’re going to hurt ourselves and not do what we want to do . . . We have to get to the playoffs. We have a legitimate shot.”
Oh, and, go Cowboys!