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New York can’t bring baggage to make-or-break game Sunday

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Vinny DiTrani
December 23, 2010
— Tom Coughlin entered the Giants’ team meeting room Wednesday with a “Good morning, men.”

“They (didn’t) give me much back, then I gave it to them again,” Coughlin said, “and they jump up and down. They were fine with that.”


Coughlin thinks it may have taken a little time, but his players have moved forward from the disaster that was the final 7:18 of Sunday’s loss to the Eagles.


“I think they were a little quiet, but I think they will be all right,” he said. “They responded well in my meeting. There’s a bunch of new stuff that happens on Wednesday, and they really have to focus on the learning.


“So that’s the stage they are in right now.”


The new info this week concerns the Green Bay Packers, who will await the Giants’ arrival Sunday at Lambeau Field for a game that could decide one wild-card team in the NFC playoffs. Despite that embarrassing collapse against the Eagles, the Giants still have their future in their hands: beat the Packers and they’re in the playoffs.


“We’re looking at this game as our season,” said linebacker Keith Bulluck, who like every NFL veteran is programmed to start his work week Wednesday, forgetting everything that has happened until then.


“That’s how football players are trained,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “When you’ve been doing this long enough, you understand Wednesday is a new week and you have a new game to prepare for.


“Today is Wednesday, and my focus is on Green Bay. You game-plan for a team, you study your rules for the five days or six days of preparation, then you forget everything you learned and get ready for the next week. Same thought process.”


“Sometimes it’s harder to do than other times,” defensive tackle Chris Canty said. “But that’s life, not just football; that’s life. There are things in life you can put behind you quicker than others. Still. we all press on. We all persevere; nobody wants to throw in the towel. You keep moving forward because that’s what makes the achievement of the goal so satisfactory. That’s the journey.”


This journey certainly hit a rough patch in the loss to the Eagles. “It’s hard to believe, but I didn’t think about Philly even once when I was on the practice field,” defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. “All I was thinking about was this game and the chance we have to clinch a playoff spot in the second-to-last game. That’s huge.


“This was just another Wednesday for me. We worked on first and second down, like we do every Wednesday.”


No one will know for sure if the Giants have forgotten the devastating loss until they take the field in Green Bay. Their early-week bravado indicates they have moved on and realize they still can make the postseason just by winning Sunday’s game. The same is true for the Packers.


They’re as clear as a bell,” Coughlin said of the stakes, “just like last week. In this day and age, everyone is aware of what’s at stake. They are aware of it and it will be a playoff atmosphere. Both teams will be striving to do the best they can and put their team in position to be in the playoffs.”


“We all know what’s on the line,” left guard Rich Seubert said. “It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere up there. The beauty of the thing is we still have destiny in our hands. Players on a lot of other teams are sitting around wondering what they will be doing in two weeks. We still can make our own fate.”


“I wasn’t worried too much,” linebacker Michael Boley said of how he expected the team to react after the loss. “I had no doubt the guys would come in with their heads up high. What happened before today happened before today. Now it’s all about Green Bay.


“Coming off last week it was one of those things where you get knocked off your horse. You want to get back on and pretty much pick up the pieces. It’s pretty much about getting back to where you want to be.”



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