Jason Pierre-Paul became the latest Giants veteran to question the team's inner toughness when he said "a lot of guys" on the roster lack the heart to play at a championship level.
"It's not all about attitude, it's all about heart," the defensive end said Thursday when asked about the team's morale after three straight losses. "You can have the attitude, you can have the swagger, you can talk. It's all about heart, and if you don't have no heart to play this game, then you're going to continue losing . . . When it comes down to it, it's all about heart. If you don't have heart, that's something you can't give a player. You just have to have it."
And the Giants? Do they have it?
"It's definitely been missing from a lot of guys," he said. "In this game of football, you can tell when you look at film who is more passionate about the game. Maybe I'm wrong, but at the end of the day, I know what it takes to play this game, and you have to have heart. A lot of guys don't have it. I can sit here and tell you we all do, but we don't."
Pierre-Paul's indictment came two days after captain Antrel Rolle said he saw no "pulse" from the Giants on the sideline during a 40-24 loss to the Colts on Monday night. Tom Coughlin refuted that, saying he thought the Giants played hard.
Coughlin attributed Rolle's comments to his emotional nature, and Rolle does seem to hit on those themes several times a year. But for another player, especially one of Pierre-Paul's stature, to reach roughly the same assessment is alarming.
Coughlin did note Thursday how "emotionally draining" losing can be for a team. And the Giants (3-5) haven't just been losing, they've been getting blown out. Every loss this season has been by at least 10 points. Seven of their last 16 defeats were by at least 21 points, including last season's 23-0 loss to the Seahawks. That's the team they play Sunday.
"We know what we have to do," Pierre-Paul said of facing the defending Super Bowl champions. "We can't lose no more. Everybody knows it. We can't lose no more, otherwise we're just going to be coming in here to play the game and get a check. And I don't want that.
"We've got a good team," he added. "A lot of the times we lost, we beat ourselves. The offense has to get it right, the defense has to get it together, and the special teams.
"We know what we gotta do to win. It's either win or go home. That's how I look at it. I'm pretty sure we're going to come out and play this week. Everybody knows what's at stake."
Playing out the string with nothing at stake is something the Giants experienced last year, and Pierre-Paul agreed it was miserable. He hopes the Tin Men in the locker room can find their hearts quickly enough to avoid another dreary December.
"We all know how it feels here," Pierre-Paul said, "and we all know what it takes to win here, so we'll be OK . . . I can sit here and talk all day to y'all, but at the end of the day, it's all about the individual and what he's got going on. It's definitely been missing from a lot of guys. But we'll get it together."