Giants coach Tom Coughlin said this week that he wanted to see his team play with pride and dignity in Week 17 against the Eagles.
They certainly pulled that off, intercepting Michael Vick on Philly's first possession and then scoring five times in the first half on their way to an easy 42-7 victory in what's almost certainly the last time they'll face an Eagles team coached by Andy Reid. Somehow, though, we imagine Coughlin will still be disappointed in his team at some point on Sunday night.
Thanks to the blowout losses in the last two weeks, the Giants' overwhelming victory means nothing as their season will not include a trip to the postseason. The Bears beat the Lions 26-24 in Detroit, formally eliminating the Giants from a playoff race that they tapped themselves out of with their dreadful play against the Falcons and Ravens.
As pleased as Coughlin might be that his team brought their best game with them this week, it has to be galling that they were so uncompetitive in two losses that wound up ending their Super Bowl defense after just 17 weeks of football. The offseason is sure to bring changes, a topic we'll cover plenty in the coming weeks, so we'll just take one last chance to talk about this particular Giants team.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran with a furor we haven't seen in more than a month, picking up 148 yards from scrimmage and scoring a touchdown. David Wilson also got into the end zone and gained 90 yards of his own, heralding a future with more for him to do and less grind on Bradshaw's chronically injured body.
Eli Manning was 13-of-21 for 208 yards and five touchdowns, lighting up the Eagles secondary for big plays all day and enjoying the kind of time in the pocket that hasn't been in evidence all that much over the second half of the season. How much of his performance was thanks to the Giants getting back in an offensive groove and how much had to do with the Eagles being terrible is up for you to decide, but it is certainly nice to have a laughable enough game that even Henry Hynoski scores a touchdown.
The defense also showed more spark, although, again, they were playing a thoroughly beaten football team that seemed totally uninterested in competing outside of the occasional post-play shoving match. Give credit to the Giants for treating a team like that like it deserved to be treated, but there wasn't any way for a blowout this week to be satisfying without the outside help the Giants were forced to rely on to make it to the postseason.
It was an enjoyable way to end a season against a bitter rival, but not enjoyable enough to wash away all that went awry for the Giants this year. After all, pride and dignity are only things you play for when the real prizes are no longer on the table.
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