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The Giants’ Season, But Not Tom Coughlin’s Tenure As Coach, Comes to an End

The Giants beat the Redskins 17–14 yesterday, and while it may not be fair to say they'd already sealed their fate with losses to Green Bay and Philadelphia the previous two weeks — they needed help yesterday, but not a miracle — those two losses did indeed prove too much to overcome. So while the Giants won yesterday, the Packers did, too. And so for the second consecutive year, the Giants have missed the playoffs.

John Mara said after the game that not only would Tom Coughlin return next season but also that there was "never any doubt in the organization's mind" that he'd be back, and that he'd told Coughlin as much last week, even before the Giants clinched their tenth win yesterday in Washington. It's the fourth time in seven years the Giants have won at least ten games. But it's the second time in franchise history — and the first since 1988 — that they've missed the playoffs despite double-digit victories.

The Giants played well enough to beat Washington yesterday — the Redskins turned the ball over four times, and gave up the 92-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham that made the score 17–7 in the third quarter — and, really, that's the story of the Giants season: For the most part, they won the games they should have won, but never earned that signature victory late in the season. With two games against the Eagles after Week 10, plus the Green Bay game in Week 16, they had enough chances to earn that victory. But it never came, and a team that not long ago controlled its own destiny didn't get the help it needed in Week 17 — the season ending not with a loss but with Nick Collins's interception at Lambeau Field.

Perhaps the Giants showed their true colors in those five disastrous quarters against the Eagles and Packers, and a playoff berth would have only allowed them to suffer one final humiliation. But now we'll never know. It's an all-too-familiar feeling: A season that at one point seemed promising fell apart over the season's final few weeks. Coughlin and his team once again have eight months to figure out what went wrong.

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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images