Prince Amukamara had a flashback Sunday afternoon, and it had nothing to do with the Giants losing yet another game in heartbreaking, head-scratching fashion.
Instead, it was triggered as Tom Coughlin stood in the postgame locker room and put the blame for the 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets on himself. It’s something that Coughlin often does after losses, both publicly and privately.
What caused the deja vu for Amukamara was that Coughlin’s comments were unopposed.
“I had a flashback to Antrel [Rolle] screaming, ‘No, Coach, it’s not on you! It’s on us! We have to start taking ownership!’ ” Amukamara said. “It made me want to say it, but that’s not my role.”
That no one else did either speaks to the leadership void in the locker room that perhaps has been a reason why so many Giants games have ended in devastatingly dramatic fashion for them this season.
“No one has said what Antrel has said in the past,” Amukamara said. “I think guys know that we need to look in the mirror and guys are pretty aware that players play and we have to execute out there.”
But it’s been silent.
“Guys lead in different ways,” Amukamara said. “It’s tough. When I was here, we had guys like [Justin] Tuck and Osi [Umen yiora] and Antrel and a lot of veteran guys here. Guys do speak up like Cullen [Jenkins] and DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie], and when [Jon] Beason was here, he spoke up.”
Amukamara also said that Robert Ayers has spoken his mind at times and that Odell Beckham Jr. gave an emotional address after last week’s loss in Washington.
But when Coughlin stood among them and them alone and took the blame, no one joined him.
“It’s the same thing every week,” Jenkins said. “We come in and get in position and then make mistakes. Missed assignments, missed opportunities. All of it. It’s something that I don’t understand. It’s something that has to become a priority to us. It can’t be something we try to fix, it’s something that we either fix or we go home.”
Amukamara did not slight the team’s effort in the latest agita-fest. Pointing to his head and his heart, he said, “In here and in here it’s happening. But with the results and with our action, the end result is it doesn’t look like it is happening. I feel like the want-to is there. I feel like guys are playing hard.”
Yet he admitted that the history of recent losses does creep into the team’s thinking. One example was the final sequence of the game during overtime for the Giants. Amukamara said he felt horrible when Beckham was flagged for kicking the football, resulting in a fourth-and-7.
“And then Odell comes back and makes a play and I’m like, ‘OK, it’s not going to end like that, we’re back in it,’ ” Amukamara said. “And then Josh Brown, I’m like ‘OK, this is easy.’ And then boom, he misses it. And here it went again. It went the way it’s been happening.
“It ebbs and flows,” he said of the emotions. “It’s tough. With a season like this, you really have to try hard to stay positive . . . You want to think positive, but you’re a realist at the same time and it’s in the back of your head. You’re crossing your fingers. You’re like . . . ”
And he groaned a grunt that Giants fans no doubt are all too familiar with this season.