By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —
After going through all the ugly details of the Giants’ debacle at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, New York coach Tom Coughlin delivered a message of hope to the defending Super Bowl champions.
If the Giants (8-6) win their final two games, they will be back in the playoffs either as the NFC East champion or a wild card.
For the Giants, ironically, it’s the same scenario as a year ago. Win the last two, play on. The question, though, is this: Can this talented team once again find that elusive consistency and become a postseason force? Especially after losing 34-0 to Atlanta?
New York closes against Baltimore (9-5) and Philadelphia (4-10).
“Your back is against the wall,” Coughlin said. “You don’t have any choice. What we really want is right there for us. There is only one way to get it and it’s not like playing like we did yesterday.”
The Giants can clinch at least a wild card berth this weekend by beating the Ravens, along with receiving help from several different teams. They could also be eliminated if they lose in Baltimore, and have several things not fall their way elsewhere.
Ahmad Bradshaw, who didn’t play in Atlanta because of a knee injury, hopes to return to the starting lineup this weekend.
“Right now, we’re inconsistent and that’s just something we’ve gotta work on,” he said. “Like I said, we play better when our backs are up against the wall. Playoffs start now and that’s how we’re looking at it. We lose and we’ll be home for the playoffs. So we’ve got to keep fighting, keep our spirits up.
“That was a down game yesterday and hopefully, (we) get everybody healthy for this week and get going.”
“In is in,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “If you win these two games, you are in. Whether you are division champs or wild card, it doesn’t make a difference.”
While last year’s late-season run is something to draw upon, defensive tackle Chris Canty said the Giants have to fix the problems before time runs out. If they do, history could repeat.
“There’s no doubt,” Canty said. “We have the talent and the ability in this locker room. Confidence comes from demonstrated performance, and this football team can do it. We demonstrated it before. So there’s no question about it, that we can perform at the level that we would need to in order to be where we would want to be.
“It’s just a matter of the guys in this locker room making the decision that we’re going to do that.”