Despite poor start, the Giants have shot in weak NFC East
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After losing four of their first five games, the New York Giants would be out of the playoff hunt in most seasons.
This isn’t most seasons in the NFC East. No one has a winning record.
Washington (2-2) saw its lead in the division shrink Monday night with a 43-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Dallas (2-3) and Philadelphia (2-3) are tied for second with the Giants a game behind.
“The key is to win your division and give yourself a chance to compete and go on from there,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday after the Giants held a walkthrough for Thursday night’s game at MetLife Stadium against the Super Bowl champion Eagles. “That’s what we are battling for.”
The Giants have been competitive. Three of the four losses have been by a total of 14 points. They were close against New Orleans until the fourth quarter.
“There is no panic,” Shurmur said. “There is urgency to win, every week. That’s what we are fighting to do. Along the way, every team goes through stuff and we’re in it. We just have to go win some games.”
Defensive captain Alec Ogletree isn’t taking solace with other division foes struggling.
“You know you still have a chance to get to where you want to go, but we definitely would rather be 4-1 or 5-0 or whatever,” he said. “But we are not, so we have to take it day by day and get ready for this week.”
The Giants thought they had their second win of the season Sunday when Eli Manning threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley with 1:08 to play to take a 31-30 lead.
The Panthers stunned them with an eight-play, 30-yard drive that Graham Gano capped with 1 second to play with a career-best 63-yard field goal. It was 1 yard shy of the NFL record set by Matt Prater in 2013.
Cornerback Michael Thomas said his only focus is getting some wins.
“If we eliminate the self-inflicting wounds, those self-inflicted mistakes, I think we will be fine,” he said. “Let’s just worry about us and not anybody else’s job.”
Manning said the division race is wide open, especially with five more division games in the final three months.
“There has to be some urgency,” said Manning, who threw for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday. “We have to get going and we have to get hot and get on a streak.”
Manning said he spoke with Odell Beckham Jr. about the receiver’s recent comments about how he wants the team to throw the ball more than 20 yards and that the team lacked heart and energy.
“Coach handled the situation well with Odell, having him address the team and setting the record straight from his point of view,” Manning said. “I think that was smart and big by him in that situation, owning up to what was going on, setting the record straight and avoiding the distractions, the this and that, and just worrying about playing football.”
Manning said the poor start probably led to comments by Beckham, who caught eight passes for 131 yards and threw a 57-yard scoring pass to Barkley.
“When you are not winning there is usually not a whole lot of energy around,” Manning said. “That’s kind of the way it can work. You are probably not playing well on Sunday so you are not excited about things. That’s football. The energy, the excitement, all those things, they come with the execution.”
NOTES: Shurmur said there is a chance that starting TE Evan Engram (knee) may play this week after missing the past two games. LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) also may play for the first time this season. TE Rhett Ellison (foot) and placekicker Aldrick Rosas (quad) were hurt Sunday. Rosas has been perfect this season. The Giants may add a kicker to the practice squad, the coach said.