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Empty Victory: Giants Top Redskins 17-14, Miss Playoffs Anyway

Giants end two-week skid, but Packer win means their season is over

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    For a little more than a half of football in Washington, the Giants could dream of a miracle ending that made everyone forget about their miserable performances in Weeks 15 and 16.

    The Bears, playing their starters the entire way, held the Packers to a field goal into the fourth quarter. The Giants, meanwhile, were leading the Redskins 17-7 and watching their defense do a number on Rex Grossman. The door to the playoffs was in sight and the Giants just needed everything to stay in place to write their ticket.

    Alas, it wasn't meant to be. The Giants held on to win 17-14, but Aaron Rodgers finally got the Packers into the end zone, and a Nick Collins interception with 10 seconds to play sealed the coffin on the Giants' 2010 season. It feels a bit harsher because the Giants were able to escape Washington with a win, but it was still the ending the Giants deserved.

    The way that they lost those games to the Eagles and Packers explains it all easily enough, but the way that they won on Sunday didn't do much to make them look like a playoff team. The Giants offense couldn't find any way to put points on the board after DeAngelo Hall got humiliated by Mario Manningham on a 92-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, a disastrous performance given the situation and the fact that the Redskins turned the ball over three times. Eli Manning threw one more pick, a tipped pass thrown much too high for Manningham, as if to send one more reminder of why he'll be celebrating his 30th birthday on a golf course.

    The defense forced all those turnovers, but they hardly finished the deal when given the chance. The Redskins scored just before halftime to keep it a game, Anthony Armstrong burned the entire unit for a late touchdown and they allowed the horrific Rex Grossman to wriggle out of a first-and-25 situation. None of this was enough to cost them the game, but only because the Redskins are a terrible football team.

    Still, the win and the effort are going to be enough to keep Tom Coughlin on the sideline for the 2011 season. John Mara confirmed that after the game and it doesn't come as much of a surprise. When you throw together 10 wins, an uncertain labor situation and the general feeling that the Giants owners never had interest in making a change, Coughlin was never really in danger. If the Giants had laid an egg on Sunday, it might have become impossible to keep the status quo but they played hard and showed that Coughlin can still reach his troops.

    For some that is a silver lining. For others it will likely be a reason for even more pain. All Giants fans surely share the disappointment of a second straight early end to a football season, along with the hope that the team might actually address some of their shortcomings this offseason.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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