Victor Cruz said Monday night he doesn't want to think of the Giants as spoilers. But with games against Seattle and Detroit left on the 5-8 team's schedule, what else is there?
The Giants are not playing for the postseason -- they were mathematically eliminated in Sunday's 37-14 loss in San Diego -- and no Giants fan wants to hear they are playing for pride. Especially after Sunday's lackluster performance.
"It's unusual," Cruz said, "but you just have to continue to play football and continue to stay positive and finish the season strong and keep everyone healthy and do the right things from a football standpoint and cherish the small moment that we have together and keep it going from there."
Wins over Seattle and Detroit would be something to cherish. But how much would it go toward helping the organization figure out how to get better and avoid another playoff-less season next year?
"We've got a three-game schedule," coach Tom Coughlin said, "and we're going to try to play and coach as hard as we can and take these things one at a time and then at the end of this season, we'll reflect. But right now is not the time for me, anyway."
The first test is the Seahawks, who at 11-2 are tied with the Broncos for the NFL's best record. Seattle is 5-2 on the road. The Giants are 3-3 at MetLife Stadium.
"I don't think there's any question about the fact that we'll be motivated because of the nature of the team that's coming in here," Coughlin said. "We'll be excited to play against the Seahawks and we'll be excited to prepare . . . I was telling the team today, six out of the last seven weeks, physically, competitively and every way, we've done a reasonably good job on the field and we've gained respect and so on and so forth. We felt good about ourselves. We didn't play well [Sunday], but that's not going to change the way in which we approach each game and, yes, we're excited to host this outstanding Seahawk team. It is no doubt a tremendous gauge for our team or for any team playing against a team that has the record and has accomplished what the Seahawks have."
Along with trying to raise their game to match the competition, Giants players will be motivated by self-interest. As in showing the Giants or another organization what they can do to keep their job or secure a new one in the offseason.
"I think that's one of the secrets about the NFL," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "We're always constantly being evaluated. There's a huge turnover, so we always feel as if we're playing for our careers and for our jobs. That isn't going to change, but when it comes down to it, this is one of the toughest seasons we have had, so we have a lot of pride at stake that we have to make sure we go out and show. I think that's the most important thing, to make sure we play with that sense of pride and passion . . . Obviously, this is not the situation we wanted to find ourselves in."