The Giants’ season ended Sunday the way so many of their games did this season, coming up just short in the fourth quarter.
That painful 35-30 loss to the Eagles, likely the finale of Tom Coughlin’s Giants coaching career, made it difficult for Rashad Jennings to reflect on the season. Yet when pressed, the 30-year-old running back said he felt pretty good about the way things have gone for him.
“I’m definitely happy I got an opportunity to get in sync with the offensive line,” Jennings said. “I’m excited because I’m just now getting in my prime late in my career. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Being a 30-year-old running back is like a 40-year-old swimsuit model or a 12-year-old soprano in the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Jennings’ best years are supposed to be behind him. After seven seasons, his career is supposed to be winding down.
Instead, in the past month, it finally kicked into high gear. On Sunday, against the league’s worst rushing defense, Jennings carried 27 times for 170 yards and a touchdown. That pushed his season total to 863 yards, a career high. He finished especially strong, with 432 yards and two of his three rushing touchdowns in the last four games as the Giants abandoned their committee approach to the ground game.
“The offensive line did a great job of getting body on body,” Jennings said. “And again, it comes down to finding ways to get those ugly yards, and my offensive line gave the backs opportunities for that this game.”
Jennings said the toughest aspect of the season was that the team got so close to winning so many games. Eight of the Giants’ 10 losses came by a combined 26 points, including five by a combined 11 points.
“The most frustrating thing is we found a way to lose in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We had so many close games. If the game was a couple of seconds less, our record would be different. It is frustrating because you work so hard. The guys work so hard when the coaches aren’t around. The coaches work so hard when the players aren’t around. Everybody gives good effort day in and day out, but this is the outcome.”
Jennings knows he has to put it behind him quickly, because he is eager to prove he can continue to produce at what is a rather advanced age for his position.
Speaking of the offseason, he said: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be right here. I’m going to prepare like I’m in the playoffs, because I want my body to know what that will feel like.”