The Giants, of course, are 2-1 and come off a huge missed opportunity. Sunday’s 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium is one the Giants may rue as the season unfolds.
The Giants lost a chance to remain tied atop the NFC East with the surprising 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles. They lost a chance to drive the defending champion Redskins into an 0-3 hole, instead leaving the division in a muddled mess.
There is also the reality that the Giants face a daunting six-game stretch beginning Monday in Minnesota. The Giants next six games are as follows:
At the 3-0 Vikings; at the 2-1 Green Bay Packers; vs. the 3-0 Baltimore Ravens; at the 2-1 Los Angeles Rams (in London); at the 3-0 Eagles; at the 1-2 Cincinnati Bengals, a team that has made the playoffs five straight seasons.
That’s a six-game stretch against teams with a combined 14-4 record (.777 winning percentage). The only game against a team currently sporting a losing record is in Cincinnati. The Bengals have not missed the playoffs since 2010.
The Giants are certainly capable of winning any of those games. They will, however, have to play much better than they did Sunday against the Redskins to come through this gauntlet with realistic playoff hopes.
“As a team, everything is correctable. It’s one of 16. We know the division games count as two. Next time we see them, we’ll be on their turf to end the season,” coach Ben McAdoo said Monday after the loss to Washington. “After the first two games, we were number one in the league with seven penalties. Yesterday we had 11 for 128 yards in the game and a potential for 14. Five of the penalties were of the 15-yard variety, which there is no excuse for. The turnover ratio, we’re minus-six right now. We have to take care of The Duke better and come up with it on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Giants know that, beginning with Monday’s game against Minnesota, they have to be better than they were against the Redskins.
— Giants’ guard Justin Pugh
“Just get back to work and work hard and stay focused,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said Tuesday. “It is the National Football League, so you are going to have weeks like that. But it is just all about how the guys respond and take it to next week’s game, which is what is pretty cool about the NFL – you always have the following week to prove yourself, especially early on in the year. We have some pretty good football players and some pretty good coaches, and I think that everyone is doing a good job of refocusing on the task at hand.”
“You just go back to what got us here in the first place, go back to the basics,” guard Justin Pugh said. “Make sure we're not hurting ourselves. I think this is definitely a wake-up call for us and you see how easily a game can go the other way. So, just going back to those basics and making sure it doesn't happen again.
“As you play in this league, you’ve got to go and you’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to work. You can't really put everything on one aspect of the game. We know what our job is to do, we’ve got to keep Eli (Manning) upright and open up holes for the running backs. That's a challenge that we're ready to accept. I think it's going to be a huge game. We’ve got to bounce back after last week and looking forward to Monday night.”
Pugh was asked about the upcoming stretch, at least the four games leading up to the London trip against the Rams, after which the Giants have their bye.
“We're locked in, we're ready to go. I think this is something that's going to be huge for us. These next four games; obviously you have two away games against some good teams ... some really good teams. So everyone's got to be all in,” Pugh said. “We’ve got to focus in and get ready to go. Obviously, leading up until the bye week, this four-game stretch is huge for us.”
Indeed, the entire six-game stretch is huge for the Giants. It will tell us a great deal about whether or not the Giants will ultimately have a good chance to break their four-year playoff drought.