It's typical of this season that even when the Giants were idle, they wound up going backward.
That was the case this weekend when they were on their bye and saw all three teams in the NFC East win. Two of those wins -- the Cowboys over the Vikings and the Redskins over the Chargers -- came in the final minute of play. The results left the Giants 21/2 games behind the first-place Cowboys and still mired in last place in the division.
"It was tough," right tackle Justin Pugh said Monday. "I was watching the Vikings game and they're winning with two minutes to go and Dallas comes down and scores. That one was definitely a tough one."
It was just a little more than a week ago that the Giants were pleasantly surprised by the final minute of a Cowboys game.
"I remember after our win versus Philly I was like, 'Dang, Dallas is gonna win,' " cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "And then they lost [to the Lions] with 30 seconds left and I was shocked and happy in that moment. Minnesota played them tough and I wish they had gotten the 'W,' but it doesn't affect us at all. We can't control what they do. All we can control is us."
The Giants have already gotten a ton of favors from the rest of the division just to remain in the race with a 2-6 record. Now, even if they win their final eight games, there is no guarantee that they'll make the playoffs. Eventually, they'll need help . . . even if they are loath to admit it.
"Create your own help, that's how I look at it," Antrel Rolle said. "Create your own help. If you can't do it by yourself, then just don't do it. That's how I feel about the game."
Still, it's hard not to take things a little personally.
"I felt in the Dallas game and the Washington game that the opposing teams had great opportunities to win the game and didn't quite come through for us," Eli Manning said, skipping right past the fact that they didn't come through for themselves.
The Giants begin the second half of their season with three key home games that could conceivably pull them right back to the top of the standings. They host the Raiders, Packers and Cowboys. If they can win those three, they'd be 5-6 and riding a five-game winning streak. It might not translate into first place, but it could.
When the Giants were losing their first six games, one of the life preservers they clung to on a weekly basis was the idea that no one was running away with the division. Now that they can keep themselves afloat, though, the idea of scoreboard watching and relying on other teams' ineptitude seems to have disappeared.
Tom Coughlin said he did not even mention the standings to the team when they reassembled Monday.
"We've got to take care of our business," he said.
That was the focus during the time off for the coaches, coming up with what Coughlin calls a "worst to best" list of the things the team does well and not well during the self-scouting. This year's diagnostics didn't reveal any secrets or portend any dramatic changes in philosophy.
"We need to play better," Coughlin said. "We need to play better and we need to win more. That's the dramatics."