How long has it been since the last Giants win?
Consider this: The temperature at kickoff that long-ago day at MetLife Stadium was a balmy 77 degrees. That was against Washington on Sept. 29 (of this year, in case there was any doubt).
On Sunday, when the Giants faced the Packers, that very same field where the Giants last celebrated was covered with snow for most of the afternoon.
The falling flakes in the first quarter made for an appealing visual but could not cover up the latest squall in what has become one of the most dreadful stretches of football in franchise history. The Giants lost their eighth straight, 31-13, to match 1980 and 2004 for their second-longest losing streak ever.
When they play the Eagles next Monday night in Philadelphia, they will try to avoid tying the record for futility set by the 1976 team, which lost nine straight. By the time they play that game, it will be 70 days since that last Giants victory, marking the longest in-season winless streak in the 95 seasons of Giants football.
That this loss officially eliminated the Giants from playoff contention was just a formality. They’d long ago relinquished any realistic ideas of making a run at the postseason. That this despair came in front of a pro-cheese crowd that would routinely break into chants of “Go Pack Go!” and cheer Packers successes only added to the humiliation of the day.
Oh, and it was John Mara’s 65th birthday. Wonder what he wished for when he blew out his candles on Sunday night.
“At some point we’ll be good enough to win,” Pat Shurmur said of a team that has only seven victories in the 28 games in which he has been here and has fallen to 2-10. The only head coach in Giants history with a winning percentage worse than Shurmur’s .250 is Bill Arnsparger, who went 7-28 over parts of three seasons.
That “some point” Shurmur referenced felt too far off to be seen on Sunday. But right now, the hope that this streak will not go on forever may be the only thing to which the Giants can cling.
“I know I sound like a broken record, but I promise when this thing turns around, I’m going to sound like a genius,” running back Saquon Barkley said after his weekly oath of public optimism.
On Sunday he even gave a vote of confidence that the Giants have the structure in place to get there.
“I do believe that we have not only the right guys on the team but the right guys on the staff to get it done,” he said. “I just know it.”
Considering he’s one of the few members of this team who don’t have to worry about job security, that could go a long way. But he’s also a 22-year-old second-year player whose perspective on such matters probably carries little weight against those of team decision-makers who, say, for instance, just turned 65.
As for this loss, the Giants were within a possession of the lead late in the third quarter, trailing 17-13, when the Packers embarked on a 14-play, 75-yard drive to re-establish control of the game. And they did it, predictably, with Aaron Rodgers (four touchdown passes) picking on the young defensive backs for the Giants.
The Packers converted an early third-and-6 on a pass-interference call against Sam Beal, converted a fourth-and-10 on a 15-yard pass to Geronimo Allison against Grant Haley, converted a third-and-2 on a 6-yard pass to Davonte Adams against Haley, then scored on third-and-goal from the 17 on a pass to — say it all together now — Adams against Beal. That gave the Packers a 24-13 lead with 14:22 left.
The Giants aren’t just having growing pains, they’re having growing convulsions.
“There’s no better training ground than playing,” Shurmur said. “We’ve just got to clean up the mistakes.”
Daniel Jones threw his second interception of the game on the ensuing possession and the Packers turned that into a drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Marcedes Lewis that made it 31-13 with 7:05 remaining.
When Jones threw his third pick with 6:15 left, about the only fans left in the building were cheering for it. Shurmur said the score “got away from us.”
So the Giants move on, trying in their next game to shake the infamy and dodge the nine-game losing streak from 1976 that defined an entire generation of bad Giants football.
“No one goes into the game planning on losing,” Barkley said of facing the possibility of tying the team’s long-standing record for futility against the Eagles.
With these Giants, though, it’s hard to go into a game envisioning them doing anything but.