EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After going through all the ugly details of the Giants' debacle at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, New York coach Tom Coughlin delivered a message of hope to the defending Super Bowl champions.
If the Giants (8-6) win their final two games, they will be back in the playoffs either as the NFC East champion or a wild card.
While it sounds simple, Coughlin admitted Monday that he didn't believe Jon Berger after the team's senior director of football information explained the postseason scenario to him while on a plane. So he had him recheck it.
For the Giants, ironically, it's the same scenario as a year ago. Win the last two, play on. The question, though, is this: Can this talented team once again find that elusive consistency and become a postseason force? Especially after losing 34-0 to Atlanta?
New York closes against Baltimore (9-5) and Philadelphia (4-10).
Your back is against the wall, Coughlin said. You don't have any choice. What we really want is right there for us. There is only one way to get it and it's not like playing like we did yesterday.
The Giants can clinch at least a wild card berth this weekend by beating the Ravens, along with receiving help from several different teams. They could also be eliminated if they lose in Baltimore, and have several things not fall their way elsewhere.
But the easier way to look at it, is to gaze at the big picture across two weeks:
Win the last two. And leave no doubt. Simple.
Of course, it's hard to figure which team will show up because the Giants have had Coughlin scratching his head of late. They posted impressive wins over Green Bay and New Orleans, but also lost to Pittsburgh and Washington with a lot on the line. They also didn't meet expectations against Cincinnati.
And then came Atlanta.
Sunday's game was about as bad as it gets. New York, which scored 52 points against the Saints the week before, was blanked for the first time in the regular season since 1994. The offense had three turnovers and failed on three fourth-down tries.
The defense didn't help. It failed to cause a turnover, in fact, allowed 394 total yards, including 129 yards rushing, and missed 18 tackles.
It was a game very much like the dismal effort New York had in losing to the Redskins, 23-10, last season to fall to 7-7. All in all, that was a no-show effort that had everyone thinking the team wasn't going anywhere.