Not here. Not this week.
That’s the mindset of the Giants as they prepare to face the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Although the game is important to the Giants’ playoff chances and there are myriad reasons for them to want a victory, one of the most pressing seems to be to delay what could be an inevitable celebration by their biggest division rival.
The Cowboys will clinch the NFC East title with a win over the Giants. At MetLife Stadium. Few outcomes, several players told Newsday, would be worse than that.
“If they won it on our field, that would be as close to devastating as it gets,” defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “That is one of the main things we’re fighting for. You don’t want anyone to come in your house and win, but to come in your house and win a championship?”
He couldn’t answer his own question.
“I don’t even like talking about that,” he said. “I don’t like putting that in the universe.”
Long-snapper Zak DeOssie, who has been playing the Cowboys as a Giant for nearly a decade, put it bluntly when asked about the possibility of a Dallas coronation Sunday night.
“I’d rather them not,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to avoid that. We don’t want to see that . . . I think that’s pretty paramount to us.”
The Giants still believe they have a chance to win the division title, and mathematically they do, albeit by the slimmest of margins. They trail the Cowboys by three games with four to play, including this one. A win would give them a head-to-head sweep of the Cowboys and move them within two games with three to play, but they still would need help.
“We’re still in the hunt,” cornerback Trevin Wade said. “If we aren’t driven by that, then we’re never going to be.”
Conversely, a loss would not eliminate the Giants from playoff contention, which is, of course, the ultimate goal for the end of the regular season. They have not made the postseason since 2011, and getting back there is one of their priorities.
Two weeks ago, when they had won six in a row, it seemed preordained. Now it’s a bit tighter.
By the time the Giants and Cowboys take the field on Sunday night, the Giants could be in virtual must-win mode.
Six-win Washington plays the floundering Eagles at 1 p.m., and seven-win Tampa Bay hosts the Saints at 4:15. A loss to the Cowboys with some other unfortunate results from around the league, and the Giants could enter the final three weeks of the season holding a one-game lead over a trio of current six-win teams for the final wild-card spot. All three of those teams — Washington, Minnesota and Green Bay — hold head-to-head advantages over them.
The Giants still would be alive, though, and somehow would have to regroup.
“Our end goal here is to make the playoffs in any capacity,” DeOssie said. “If that’s the case, it would be unfortunate. We’d have to do it the hard way. Like we did in ’07.”
“It would put a damper on things,” Wade said. “You would have to move on, but that would still hurt because you let something slip away.”
They obviously would prefer not to be in that situation. That’s why some told Newsday they are not even allowing for the possibility of the Cowboys winning, let alone clinching, on Sunday night.
“I don’t give a [expletive] what’s going on with them,” guard Justin Pugh said. “I’m worried about us winning the game and us getting into the playoffs. We have to go out there and handle our business, and them not clinching comes with handling our business.”
“That’s something they’re probably thinking about; they want to clinch it right now,” linebacker Keenan Robinson said. “But we just want to win.”