EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Getting off to an 0-2 start in the NFC East isn’t causing the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants to hit the panic button.
Far from it.
While being either 3-1 or 4-0 would obviously be better, the Giants can deal with 2-2 after their 19-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) Sunday. There are still 12 games left in the regular season, including four in the division.
Don’t forget this was a team that started the 2007 season 0-2 and went on the win the Super Bowl.
“I’m not concerned about any of that,” running back Ahmad Bradshaw said. “We have a great team and we believe in each other. We’ve been down this road before. There’s nothing we can’t handle. There’s nothing we’re not preparing for. Like I said, we played a great game. It’s just how it ended, we didn’t finish.”
If there is a concern, it’s the schedule. Besides the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins, the rest of the Giants’ slate features games with the 49ers, Steelers, Bengals, Packers, Saints, Falcons and Ravens.
Of the 11 opponents left in the regular season — the Giants have two games left with Washington — only Pittsburgh (1-2), winless New Orleans and Cleveland have losing records. The Browns will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday looking for their first win.
“Hey, we’re 2-2 right now,” quarterback Eli Manning said Monday afternoon. “It’s not the ideal situation, but you could be a lot worse. Philadelphia is 3-1, we’re not far out. There’s a lot of football to be played. We’ve still got four more divisional games. It’s a lot of football left and we’ve got to worry about Cleveland and get back to winning and there’s no point in getting down now. Everybody knows we’re going to see Philadelphia again the last game of the regular season.
“I have a feeling that’s going to be a big game for us.”
The loss on Sunday night was tough to swallow because the Giants had a chance to stage another memorable fourth-quarter win after Alex Henery kicked a 26-yard field goal with 1:49 left to put the Eagles ahead.
A 37-yard kickoff return by rookie David Wilson and two pass interference penalties gave New York a first down at the Eagles 27 with 49 seconds to play and no timeouts.
A 1-yard run by Bradshaw on first down inched the ball closer but Ramses Barden was called for offensive pass interference along the right sideline trying to prevent Nnamdi Asomugha from intercepting a pass around the 10-yard line. The flag pushed the ball to the 36 and it proved crucial two plays later when Lawrence Tynes came up roughly a yard or two short on what would-have-been a career best 54-yard field goal.
Tynes was wide left on his first attempt, but got a second try when the Eagles called timeout.
In hindsight, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he would have run one more to try to get the ball closer for Tynes. He didn’t do that with 15 seconds left because he was afraid that if a play was run and the Giants could not get out of bounds, the game would have ended with a chance to kick a game winner.
“If I were to do it over, would I be as conservative with 15 seconds? Not this morning,” Coughlin said. “This morning I throw it to the sideline, something of that nature, take a chance on that. What happens if you get a sack there? What happens if you try to fit one in tight and it gets, whether you catch it or not, you get tackled in bounds? Game’s over. Would I be that conservative? Not today.
“Last night I chose to do that knowing full well that the clock was not in our favor.”
Coming into the season, Coughlin had asked the Giants to build a bridge from the end of last season to this year. His hope was to get his team going early by bringing the type of play it showed in the final six games, a run that not only secured the last spot in the playoffs, but one which led to a second title in five seasons.
So far, the bridge has not been built. New York played poorly in the season opener against Dallas. It had one good half in the win over Tampa Bay and played its best game against Carolina in Week 3. Sunday night was a relapse. The defense struggled in the second half while the offense only had 17 points despite some great field position provided by Wilson’s kickoff returns.
“We need to be in better harmony in all three phases for it to work,” Coughlin said.
Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka believes in this team.
“This team I think is about as good a team as we’ve had since I’ve been around here,” said Kiwanuka, who was drafted in 2006. “Every year it’s different pieces — people come in, they go out, people get hurt — but we always have people step up.
“It’s stuff like that that we feed on around here.”
NOTES: S Kenny Phillips sprained his right MCL in the first half and is week-to-week. Stevie Brown had seven tackles replacing him. … MLB Chase Blackburn led the team with 10 tackles and a sack. … Bradshaw had 39 yards on 13 carries and he was a little upset that he wasn’t given the ball more in the final seconds after New York reached the Eagles 26. … S Tyler Sash, who was suspended for the first four games for using a banned prescription drug, was back in the locker room Monday. He will not count on the roster until Saturday, when the Giants will have to make a move. … C David Baas had swelling in his hand during the game and that led to three or four bad snaps in shotgun formations, Coughlin said.