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Tom Coughlin: 4-7 Giants have 'got a lot to play for'

Tom Coughlin looks on during the first half

Tom Coughlin looks on during the first half of a game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. (Nov. 24, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

It wasn't as pithy or catchy as New York football's most famous rallying cry in the face of a season that has become a lost cause, but Tom Coughlin, in his own way, expressed what the Giants' plans are now that they have all but been eliminated from playoff contention.

With apologies to Herm Edwards, they'll play to win the games.

"It's not going to be over until the five games are over,'' Coughlin said Monday. "The one thing that all of you would like to try to figure into this is you don't have anything to play for. We've got a lot to play for. We have a five-game schedule. We're playing against some outstanding football teams. We're trying to assert ourselves.''

Coughlin said the Giants have to "deal with reality'' and that the team created the situation it is in. "We are what we are,'' he said.

So what are they? After Sunday's devastating 24-21 loss to the Cowboys, the Giants are 4-7 and trail the Cowboys and Eagles, who are tied for first place in the division at 6-5, by two games. They do not hold a tiebreaker against either team, nor do they play either of them.

The Giants are a team that began the season with aspirations of playing in the Super Bowl but has been reduced to dangling from a greased rope and hoping that not one but two teams collapse.

For the Giants to win the NFC East, they will have to go 5-0 -- with Washington twice, the Seahawks at home and road games against San Diego and Detroit, that's no easy task -- while both the Cowboys and Eagles do no better than 2-3. Oh, and those teams play each other in Week 17, so one is virtually guaranteed at least one win.

"We know we have to win these next five games to give ourselves a shot, and it's still just a shot,'' Eli Manning said. "Nothing is guaranteed, but there's still hope.''

What a different picture it would be had the Giants won on Sunday. The locker room was predictably moribund less than 24 hours after a game in which they had invested so much emotionally and believed would be their salvation turned out to be just a piece of their demise.

"Are some losses harder than others? Absolutely,'' Antrel Rolle said. "[Sunday] night was a tough loss. We'd been preparing pretty well for these guys and we were in a position to put ourselves in a better position. We just fell a little bit short.''

"This hurts pretty good,'' center Jim Cordle said. "It took some air out of us, that's for sure.''

When the Giants were 0-6, they had the luxury of saying the division title still was reachable. Now that brass ring likely is gone.

For many on the team, this will be their first time playing a string of games after their virtual elimination from playoff contention. They've played one or two over the years, but never five straight.

How will they respond?

"Ain't no quitters,'' Terrell Thomas said of the locker room. "We were 0-6, we could've been there, did that. We gave ourselves every shot to get back into this race. We came up a little short versus Dallas, but it ain't over. It's a long season and you never know what could happen.''

Actually, it's getting to be a short season. And although the details surrounding the team's fate have not yet been written, it's pretty clear what is going to happen.

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