EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Halfway through the season, the New York Giants were one of the biggest surprises of 2022.
The second half has given Giants fans another surprise. The 6-2 start under first-year coach Brian Daboll might have been a blip, with New York looking more like the team that won four games last season.
On Sunday, Jalen Hurts and the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles victimized the suddenly vulnerable Giants, rolling to a 48-22 victory.
The Giants (7-5-1), who have not made the playoffs since 2016, lost for the fourth time in the six games (1-4-1).
“I mean, we got our (butt) whipped. Point blank,” said Saquon Barkley, who was limited to 20 plays and 28 yards rushing because of a neck injury. “But you can find beauty in everything. I really believe in that, and we’ve got to double down. We’ve got to come in, got to prep better, got to practice better. Everything we want is still in front of us.”
The big game for the Giants will be next Sunday night at division rival Washington (7-5-1). The teams tied 20-all on Dec. 4. Provided they avoid another draw, the winning team will have the tiebreaker should they finish the season with the same record.
Safety Julian Love said the Giants still believe in themselves. He's been in the league four years and this is the first time New York has controlled its own destiny in December.
“We got to shake this one off,” Love said. “We have four games in front of us, starting with this next one against Washington, which is what you want. When you grow up, as a kid, you want games that are ‘everything’s on the line.’ So, that’s how we’re treating it.”
Veteran linebacker Jihad Ward said beating Washington is a must. New York blew a late seven-point lead last week.
“We got to win this game, that’s all I got to say,” Ward said. “We’ve got to win, that’s all the mindset. We just got to do what we got to do. Learn from our mistakes and take everything more serious. I’m saying we always take everything serious, but it’s like this is a must win.”
Injuries have piled up for the Giants in the second half of the season. Starting safety and co-defensive captain Xavier McKinney broke a hand during the bye week and has not played. Top cornerback Adoree Jackson sustained a knee injury and has missed the last three. Linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who had two of New York's four sacks Sunday, only got back recently after missing seven games. Top lineman Leonard Williams also missed Sunday's game with a neck injury.
The Giants' main issue coming into this season was depth. The injuries have allowed opponents to take advantage.
“It’s hard to remain consistent after poor results,” Daboll said. “But I think that’s something that we’ve stressed since day one; there’s no room for excuses. There are a bunch of explanations. We got beat. They outcoached us. They outplayed us. And we got to get ready to go soon; the season’s winding down here, and we got an important one on Sunday.”
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