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Rocked and Reeling
Nunyo Demasio
December 11, 2006
While the Cowboys steam toward the postseason, their NFC East rivals, the Giants, are desperately trying to right their ship
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December 11, 2006

Rocked And Reeling

While the Cowboys steam toward the postseason, their NFC East rivals, the Giants, are desperately trying to right their ship

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To watch´┐ŻNew York Giants coach Tom Coughlin on the sideline against Dallas on Sunday was to see a man repeatedly bouncing back and forth between joy and despair--in short, a microcosm of his season. Coughlin's smile was suddenly replaced by a grimace when rookie defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka intercepted a first-quarter Dallas pass only to fumble, without being touched, on the return. Late in the game the coach clapped with joy when Plaxico Burress's touchdown tied the game, only to slump his shoulders a minute later when Martin Gramatica booted the game-winning 46-yard field goal with a second left.

A win could have exorcised many of the Giants' demons--injuries, discord, on-field disasters. Instead, New York is two games behind 8--4 Dallas in the NFC East, hoping to draw a wild card. "It's not dire," Coughlin said of his team's future. "We're going to stick together."

The next test comes on Sunday, at Carolina. Here's how the season unraveled.

SEPT. 17 After losing to Indianapolis in the opener, the Giants give up 24 straight points at Philadelphia to trail 24--7 in the fourth quarter. But Eli Manning sparks a furious rally. A field goal with seven seconds left ties the game, and Manning's 31-yard toss to wideout Burress in OT wins it. "I saw a little glimpse of New York Giants pride in that second half," said Coughlin.

SEPT. 25 There is no comeback in Seattle--and little Giants pride on display--as New York loses 42--30. "We were outplayed and outcoached," tight end Jeremy Shockey tells reporters. The next day Coughlin calls Shockey's take "extremely disappointing," and Manning delivers a rare rebuke, calling the outburst "unacceptable." Shockey expresses regret.

OCT. 18 The New York Times reports that All-Pro running back Tiki Barber will likely retire after the season. A number of media pundits label Barber a quitter. He fires back on his satellite radio show, calling the critics "idiots."

OCT. 23 A 36--22 win in Dallas is a Pyrrhic victory. Linebacker LaVar Arrington ruptures his Achilles tendon, ending his season, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora suffers a hip-flexor injury that will knock him out for five games.

NOV. 5 More injuries. In a win over Houston, defensive end Michael Strahan suffers a foot sprain that puts him out for at least four games. Three days later the club announces that veteran wideout Amani Toomer will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

NOV. 12 New York loses 38--20 to Chicago in Manning's worst game of the season. Starting left tackle Luke Petitgout breaks his leg.

NOV. 22 After Barber carries just 10 times for 27 yards in a 26--10 loss to Jacksonville, he chides the staff for not calling more running plays. "It's not rocket science," he says. "I felt insignificant." Coughlin calls a closed-door meeting.

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