EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As collectively embarrassed as the Giants appeared over their no-show performance against Washington, their Christmas Eve matchup with the Jets is making them quickly forget that debacle.
They have no choice, according to quarterback Eli Manning.
“You have to deal with this like other losses,” he said Monday after watching Hakeem Nicks drop a sure early touchdown pass and seeing himself contributing to the 23-10 setback with three interceptions. “We’ve lost games, but we still know where we stand. We’ve got a big one ahead of us. Get this bad taste out of our mouth and go out and play our best football this Saturday.”
With backs firmly against the wall — the Giants have to beat the Jets and Cowboys to reach the playoffs as NFC East champions — linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka saw little chance the Giants would suffer a similar letdown against the Jets. But, at least in Kiwanuka’s mind, it won’t be because they’re playing their MetLife Stadium neighbors.
Circumstances being what they are, with both teams hanging desperately onto playoff hopes, intramural confrontation is the least of it. Even as coach Rex Ryan proclaims his Jets, by virtue of their two championship game journeys in his tenure, as the better squad.
“I know we’re the better team,” Kiwanuka said. “We just have to go out and prove it. I’m not worried about something anybody says, especially someone who’s not going to have pads on.
“I expect the urgency to be there this week because, if nothing else, because of what happened last week. For whatever reason, we didn’t have the intensity, the execution, or attention to detail. Given what’s at stake, there’s no way we can come out the same way this week.”
Safety Antrel Rolle told WFAN radio Monday that the Giants’ tenuous playoff hopes should provide plenty of motivation.
“Unfortunately, we’ve made this extremely hard on ourselves,” Rolle said. “As the record shows, we play a lot better when our backs are truly up against the wall.”
Whether any of that provides an extra push for the Giants on Saturday remains to be seen. They are hurting, with players such as defensive end Justin Tuck and linebacker Michael Boley still fighting through injuries.
They also have a middle linebacker in Chase Blackburn whom they cut after last season. And their secondary continues to make major mistakes.
It’s too late to find able players on the waiver wire. And coach Tom Coughlin said he would not want them, anyway. The current roster has to fix things against a Jets team that comes off an equally humbling 45-19 loss to the Eagles.
“You just have to keep working,” Coughlin said. “I don’t want a new quarterback. I don’t want a new secondary. I don’t want a new linebacker. The ones we have have got to play better. These guys have put us in a position where as of a day ago, we were in the lead in our division.
“The same players are going to have to finish this job. We talk about it endlessly. I’m going to continue to preach.”
Notes: Kick coverage man Devin Thomas, who lay motionless on the field for almost 15 minutes with a pinched neck nerve after his tackle on the last kickoff of the first half, was cleared to practice. Tom Coughlin said he expects him back at work Wednesday. . Coughlin said TE Jake Ballard could miss time with an aggravation of an old right posterior cruciate knee ligament injury, but could not say how much time. “He’s day to day,” Coughlin said. “At this point, I’m hoping it’s not a season-ender. It’s a matter of how fast the knee comes around.”. Coughlin left open the possibility pass-rushing DE Osi Umenyiora, still rehabbing knee and ankle issues, won’t play again this season. “We’re hoping to have him back, but we have to see some major improvement to be able to say he can go.”