So, what now?
Well, the Giants will show up for work on Monday officially eliminated from playoff contention and we’ll see how they handle that situation, both organizationally and on a personal level.
“Just like we’ve been trying to do the whole season, we’ll try to keep the noise out and just try to play football,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Certainly we’ll re-group and try to do what’s best to win the next game. That’s what our focus will be.”
A number of players who had been battling injuries likely will head to injured reserve in the coming days, including, possibly, Odell Beckham Jr., who has missed the last two games with a quadriceps contusion. The Giants also will have to decide how they want to handle their quarterback situation now that the games are meaningless in the standings, though based on Shurmur’s desire to win, Eli Manning seems unlikely to get benched as a starter in either of the final two games of the season.
Speaking of which, why wasn’t Kyle Lauletta active as the backup quarterback?
Shurmur said he thought giving the job back to Alex Tanney gave the Giants the “best chance to win.” Clearly that meant that in the event someone had to spell Manning, he trusted Tanney more than Lauletta, even though Tanney has yet to play a snap this season (Lauletta went 0-for-5 with an interception in his NFL debut during mop-up action last week). Shurmur had left the door open for that switch back to Tanney all week.
Did it surprise Lauletta?
“It definitely did,” he said. The rookie learned the news when he showed up at the stadium on Sunday morning.
“It’s just disappointing, that’s really it,” he said. “I’m just not happy. But I’ll do what I can to do my role the best that I can, be on the sideline and try to see stuff out there and do the best that I can.”
When’s the last time Nate Solder didn’t reach the playoffs?
It never had happened. The left tackle spent nine years with the Patriots and had never been on a team eliminated earlier than the conference title game. He insisted on Sunday that the postseason is not what he was shooting for this year, though.
“My main focus is my teammates and helping this team do whatever it takes to continue to have an upward trend,” he said.
He added that he thinks there have been “encouraging signs all season” in that regard, although it was hard to spot them in this particular game.
“My motivations will never change based on circumstance,” Solder said.
And the rest of the team?
He’s not as certain.
“We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it,” Solder said. “I have no idea.”
Others were more confident.
“Even though we’re eliminated, we have a job to do,” wide receiver Russell Shepard said. “We’re professional athletes, we get paid a lot of money. There’s always a group of young guys coming in next year who want our jobs. In order for you to stay in this league and win football games and have a great career, you’d better come to work ready to win regardless of the outcome the day before.”
Was that a designed fake punt late in the second quarter?
No. Punter Riley Dixon bobbled the snap, but once he saw that the Titans were dropping back into coverage, he ad-libbed a 14-yard run for a first down. “I looked up and saw guys running the other direction so I decided to improvise and follow them,” he said. He knew that had he kicked the ball, the Giants would have been flagged for illegal players downfield. Said Shurmur: “It worked out well.”
What was Ukeme Eligwe thinking when he nearly ran a downed punt into the end zone for a touchback?
The rookie linebacker said he knew he couldn’t do that, so as he caught the ball at the 9, he tried to flip it backward. Instead, the wet ball slipped out of his hands and went through the end zone for what initially was ruled a touchback. Shurmur challenged and the ball was placed at the 9.
Did Antonio Hamilton knock the ball away from Eligwe?
No, but the Giants cornerback and gunner was trying to stop Eligwe from running into the end zone and reached out to grab him. “I think I scared him,” Hamilton said. Eligwe scared the Giants.
How did the Giants lose the challenge when they thought Derrick Henry stepped out of bounds during his 22-yard run in the second quarter?
Shurmur has no idea. “Obviously, the guy’s foot was out of bounds,” he said. “The explanation I got was that that’s not what the TV had. I don’t know where it came from, but I obviously saw that his foot was out of bounds.”
That left the Giants without a challenge for the rest of the game. Henry would have had a first down anyway. Was it worth the risk?
Shurmur didn’t see it as such. “When you see his foot out of bounds," he said, "I think that should be zero risk in my mind.”