EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- There were many embarrassing moments on this day for the New York Giants but one play was humiliatingly symbolic.
It came, of all places, on a field goal attempt. Lawrence Tynes tried from 44 yards. He missed the kick. That was bad enough. But on the play New York was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty. So the kick was missed and a Giants player was caught doing something asinine. It was symbolic.
The Tennessee Titans were chirping the entire game, and they finally cracked a seam inside the Giants' cranium leading to a rash of Giants players getting caught retaliating in a childish spate of personal-foul penalties. The talking was purposeful by the Titans. They knew they could rattle New York's players, and they were right.
The Titans won 29-10 at New Meadowlands Stadium because Tom Coughlin didn't have his team prepared. Actually, it was worse than that. The Giants were outsmarted and beaten by a primordial Tennessee offense still unfamiliar with the forward pass.
The lack of discipline displayed by Coughlin's Giants was shocking. It was like watching Paul Crewe take on the guards.
The only thing missing was a Giants player taking a swipe at someone's crotch.
So, as a result of this disaster, the Bill Cowher-to-the-Giants speculation will begin in earnest. It's not fair. It's wrong. It was Coughlin after all who led the Giants to one of the more spectacular runs in team history that culminated in the Giants upsetting the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl a few years ago. He deserves leeway and cache but he won't get it and the Cowher mentions will get increasingly relentless if performances like this one continue.
This type of day for New York was easily foreshadowed. The Giants were blown out by the Colts last week and running back Brandon Jacobs was fined for tossing his helmet out of frustration. This week Antrel Rolle, in an interview with New York's WFAN radio, said Coughlin had too much of a stranglehold on the team.
Despite Coughlin saying the Giants had a good week of practice –- and quarterback Eli Manning saying the off-field controversies had no effect on the Giants –- the team clearly looked discombobulated against the Titans. What happened off the field caused issues on it. That was clear.
Coughlin has seen this before. During the Super Bowl run the infighting and finger pointing became vicious. Then team leaders like Mike Strahan eventually calmed the locker room and the team rallied. The question for the Giants becomes: Who can rally the players now?
|Tom Coughlin looks for help from the officials. Could he be searching for employment next? (US Presswire)|
"It's my fault," Coughlin said. "It's my responsibility. Put it on me."
Some of the things the Giants did were absolutely surreal. Kareem McKenzie was twice penalized in the fourth quarter for unnecessary roughness. The second time Coughlin was so disgusted he yanked McKenzie. Then Rolle, in the wake of complaining about the team's lack of freedom on the field, was himself penalized for unnecessary roughness. He got yanked, too.
Jacobs, one week after his helmet shot-putting, was also called for a personal foul. David Diehl was busted snatching the helmet of Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan. Eli Manning threw a pass left-handed that bounced off a receiver's hands and was intercepted.
"I'm not very good at throwing left-handed," he said.
Who is? Unless they're left-handed.
It's early in the season and Coughlin has rallied the Giants before. He has a chance to do it again. But this was bad. This was as bad a regular season loss as the Giants have had in a long time.
If games like these continue Cowher had better charge his cell phone.