Here is a look at how the Giants did, position by position, against the Panthers.
Eli: I'm Sorry
A: Well, just penalties, turnovers. The mistakes hurt us. The first drive we did a lot of good things, made some plays. But we just couldn't overcome a penalty -- we actually overcame that but then you have a turnover. Those things – in big games – you can't afford to have that. It was just that way all day. Offensively in the second half we did some good things; we moved the ball. But we didn't have enough time and still didn't make enough plays to get back in the game.
Q: This is little known territory for you – not getting ready for a playoff run. Is it kind of odd for you right now?
A: Yes. Four years in a row where we have made the playoffs. You get to thinking that comes with the territory. That is something that happens every year. You forget how difficult it is to make the playoffs. It is not easy; it is not something that happens every year. You look at Giants Stadium – having been around for 34 years and they made the playoffs 14 times in those years. It kind of hits you and you say, "What we have done these last four years is not typical." And especially we won a lot of games. I think it kind of opens your eyes back up again in that we have to get back to playing better football. We didn't have our best football this year. It will be a big season for us to turn it around and do it next year.
Q: How important is it to end this season on a good note?
A: I don't know. Right now my focus is on having a good week of practice this week, going out to Minnesota and seeing if we can end the season on a good note. I think offensively we have done some good things. We have made some strides, especially some young guys – young receivers who have played well and done some very good things. I'm excited about the guys we have surrounding this team and what we can do in the future. But let's go out there and end on a good note. I know the one year we didn't make the playoffs, we did win our last game versus Dallas in the '04 season. It was good – a good win to go into the offseason. That following year we go 11-5 and win the NFC East. So I think it will be a big game for us – just go out there, prepare well and see if we can play our best football.
Q: What about the pride of the team being questioned?
A: Well, I think that is why we need to go out there and play well just because that is our job. We are here to play football. And our job is to go out there and prepare our best and play to the best of our ability and give our full effort. So that is what we are going to do.
Q: Based on the magnitude of yesterday – just the closing of the stadium and still trying to stay alive in the playoffs – what can you say to the fans who today are saying, "Boy, it really seemed like the team had no fight?"
A: I apologize. I'm sorry. I wish I had an answer. I wish we could have come out and played better football. I don't have the answer to why it happened or why it has happened kind of throughout the season where we have been up and down in our play. We have to find a way to be more consistent. That is what you see from the good teams in this league – they are consistent week in and week out. You might not win every game but you are going to be in the fight for every game.
Q: How unexpected was yesterday's performance?
A: I thought we prepared during the week. I thought we had good practices. I thought we knew what was going on – at least offensively on what we were doing. We made a lot of good plays. We had some good drives. The penalties and the mistakes – penalties and turnovers – and those things can happen. There were not a whole lot of mental errors. We just didn't do enough good things and the bad things hurt us.
Q: There is no one answer to all of this, but over the last couple of years – starting strong and then not being able to finish strong within the season – '07 certainly was an exception. How disappointing is it knowing that you have gotten off to such good starts and put yourself in such good positions and not finished strong?
A: Well, I thought this year we got off to a great start. And not only …….the whole last fourteen weeks we didn't play real strong. Obviously we lost some players. You deal with some of those things. But we weren't very consistent and we got down early too many times in games. We are not a team that is good at playing from behind. And sometimes if you are a little behind you can fight. But it seems like when we get down and things go bad they continue to get worse. That is too bad.
Q: When you look at the last couple of weeks and the ups and downs, and you thought maybe you had gotten out of the funk and were ready to go on a roll, why didn't it get going?
A: I think offensively we did a lot of good things. Dallas, Philly, Washington – we played well. We got off to a pretty good start this past week; again, turnovers and penalties. It continues to come back to those things. And that is not mental mistakes for the most part. It is not like you are not giving great effort. We were fighting hard and trying hard and trying to make plays and get extra yardage. You have to be smarter or just in tune and be more careful in what you are doing.
Q: After the game yesterday Harry Carson questioned the pride in this room. The fact that it comes from a guy like Harry who has meant so much to the organization – does that bring it home more for you?
A: I haven't heard anything he said. I think we do. I think these players do have pride in what we are doing and take great responsibility for our jobs and enjoy what we do and work hard at preparing each week to go out and play. From our side of the ball – I know my guys; I know our offensive line has great pride in what they are doing. Our running backs do, our receivers are young and work hard each week and are competitive each week and trying to get better and are working hard. I think we are going out there and trying. But trying is just not enough sometimes. It is about going out there and getting the job done. And that is what we haven't done.
Q: You were talking about how it opened your eyes on how it is not easy to make the playoffs. Do you think that it has been a thing all year with this team – that you kind of expected things to happen rather than try to make them happen?
A: No. I think we learned that early on. Sometimes you go 5-0 and you get off to a great start and things seem easy, especially when you have a young team – you might think, "Hey, this fun, this is great. We are going out there, we are winning every game easily" and you think everything is just going to happen naturally. We went through the stretch where we weren't playing good football and regrouped and thought we could kind of get on a hot run late in the season. But we just didn't play good football. And that is what it comes down to. To win games you have to play great football and be consistent and make plays and not make mistakes. We weren't doing that.
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