One more game to go.
That might be the best news the Giants have gotten all season, an acknowledgment that this forsaken season is coming to a close.
It’s been filled with injuries and losses, firings and benchings, drama and conflict, humiliation and heartbreak. And now it’s almost over. A month after the Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention, they can see the finish line.
After a 23-0 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday that saddled the Giants with a franchise-record 13th defeat, it was a vision of relief for at least one prominent player. Even Eli Manning seemed to be looking forward to having it all come to a conclusion.
“It’s been tough,” the quarterback said of the season. “Obviously, I think for older players, it’s tougher to go through a season where you’ve been out of the playoffs for a while and the team’s struggling. You only have so many more opportunities left. So it’s been tough. But yeah, I think after next week, we’ll just kind of look forward to moving on.”
Before they can do that, though, there is the unpleasant necessity of facing Washington in the finale. Neither team has anything to play for in terms of standings, and it’s expected to be a cold, miserable New Year’s Eve day in the Meadowlands. So let’s just say MetLife Stadium does not figure to be filled to capacity for the contest.
Add to that the idea that many Giants fans likely would prefer to see their team lose to secure a better draft pick, and it promises to be an ugly ending to an ugly year.
“I know one thing for sure, my son is going to be there supporting me,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “I have one fan supporting me, and that’s all that matters.”
Getting ready for such drudgery undoubtedly will be a challenge. The Giants have been able to accomplish that during the past few weeks — though with very little success in terms of victories — by convincing themselves that a chunk of the schedule remained and it would be mentally unhealthy to check out. Now, though, with the end in sight, it might be more of a challenge.
“I don’t think guys are just giving up and waiting for the season to end,” said wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who was sidelined by injuries in the two games the Giants did win and has not tasted a victory since last season’s Jan. 1 finale. “We love doing this. This is what we grew up doing.”
Pierre-Paul expressed a similar philosophy.
“I’m pretty sure guys will be pumped up to play a division game,” he said. “We need at least one win in the division . . . I’m going to be excited, I’m going to get my teammates going, and that’s how it’s going to be. Everyone knows we hate Washington.”
While the end is nigh, what lies beyond remains a mystery. The Giants are not expected to have a general manager in place by the time the season ends next week, and they certainly won’t have a head coach for 2018. That leaves a lot up in the air regarding personnel.
That includes the quarterback. Assuming he plays — and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo indicated he will — Manning will appear in his 215th regular-season game as a Giant. That will tie the franchise record for games played set by Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.
Manning knows he might not get a chance to break that record, though.
“I’ll figure out next week and go from there,” he said after the loss to the Cardinals.
The Giants’ season may be ending, but the repercussions will continue for a while.