LANDOVER, Md. -- Chants of "Green Bay won!" started to spread in the stadium in the game's final minute, taunting a New York Giants team in no mood to celebrate a victory of its own.
The Giants got the win they needed but not the help Sunday. New York's 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins was rendered moot for postseason purposes when Green Bay topped Chicago 10-3 to claim the remaining wild card berth in the NFC.
"This is the most somber winning locker room you'll ever see," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "And that's because we fell short of our goals. ... Knowing that we won but we didn't fulfill our own destiny and we came up losers on the day, it's definitely weird."
In the dreariness, there was positive news for Tom Coughlin. Co-owner John Mara said after the game the coach would return next season, despite back-to-back years in which the team faded down the stretch.
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Osi Umenyiora stripped Rex Grossman twice as the Giants forced four turnovers to complete a 10-6 season, making New York and Tampa Bay the first NFC teams since 1991 to miss the playoffs despite double-digit victories. The Giants have only themselves to blame: They blew a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead in a loss to NFC East leader Philadelphia on Dec. 19, then got blown out 45-17 by the Packers last week, costing them the tiebreakers against two teams also in the hunt.
"It was all self-inflicted," said linebacker Keith Bulluck, who had an interception. "We were in the driver's seat. And then we were in the passenger seat. And now we're in the back seat."
Last year, the Giants started 5-0 before losing eight of 11 down the stretch. Questions were raised about Coughlin's job security just three years after he led the team to the Super Bowl title, but Mara said "there was never any doubt" the coach would be back.
Coughlin's players showed up against the Redskins, never trailing even as they tried to ignore the Chicago-Green Bay game that was played at the same time.
Eli Manning completed 17 of 29 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Mario Manningham had 101 yards receiving on four receptions, including a 92-yard touchdown catch. Derek Hagan, starting in place of the injured Hakeem Nicks, had a career-high 70 yards receiving on six catches.
A spinning one-handed snag by tight end Kevin Boss set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs. Manning was never sacked behind a reshuffled offensive line that included Kevin Boothe playing center in the NFL for the first time, after Rich Seubert was carted off the field with a dislocated right kneecap in the first quarter.
But none of that mattered when the Giants looked at the video screen and saw the replay of the Packers making a game-sealing interception.
|New York Giants|
|The Giants forced four turnovers, which more than offset the 385 yards it allowed. The offense managed one big pass play and mostly hung on in the second half, playing not to lose. The running game was stopped.|
|Washington's defense stopped the run, but could not pressure QB Eli Manning, whether with blitzes or by winning one-on-one situations. The defense played better in the second half, but allowed one big play. The offense managed a lot of yards, but only 14 points and they also turned it over four times.|
|By John Keim|
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"To win the 10 games was nice," Coughlin said. "But we all wanted to win the 10 games so we could get a chance to play next week as well."
The Redskins (6-10) finished last in the NFC East for the third straight season. They went 2-6 at home, their worst mark since 0-8 in the 3-13 season of 1994. Mike Shanahan matched his worst full-season record in his 17 years as an NFL coach -- he was also 6-10 with Denver in 1999.
"A lot of unwanted news and distraction," said fullback Mike Sellers, when asked about the most frustrating thing about the season. "But that's football. You've got to be professional, and not even worry about that."
Grossman went 26 for 44 for 336 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, but he also lost two fumbles. He got his longest completion of his career when he hit Anthony Armstrong for a 64-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Grossman had seven touchdowns, four interceptions, four lost fumbles and a 1-2 record in his three starts after McNabb was benched.
The big consolation for Redskins fans was that New York didn't make the playoffs, either.
"Their fans were all cheering and whatnot," Cofield said. "That shows you the state of their team, that they have to cheer about us failing. That's when you have no success; those are the kind of things that excite you."
- New York has won six straight against Washington and nine of 10.
- Umenyiora finished the season with 10 forced fumbles, tying Jason Taylor's record set in 2006 with Miami. The stat has been kept since 1994.
- Redskins WR Santana Moss had nine receptions for 74 yards, setting a career high in catches (93) for the season.