In some ways Tom Coughlin has come full cycle with the New York Giants.
Coughlin spoke of restoring Giants pride when he took over an underachieving team in 2004. His message Wednesday heading into what might be the final week of a suddenly very disappointing season is again about restoring that pride.
It's not what he or anyone expected after the defending champions started the season 6-2. But this team has no semblance of being either a champion or a contender, especially after losing the past two games to Atlanta and Baltimore by a combined 67-14.
"Whatever it is, the football has not been what we expected it to be," Coughlin said. "I'm calling it execution; perhaps I had a bad choice of words. That's what I talked to our team about this morning, was pride, honor, dignity. Play the game the way we're capable of playing the game. Finish this season with a game we can all be proud of."
The Giants (8-7) seemingly can't play any worse than the past two weeks.
The offense has produced little and the defense has stopped no one as New York has lost control of its playoff destiny. The finale against Philadelphia (4-11) on Sunday might be Andy Reid's final game as Eagles coach.
The Giants need to win, have Minnesota and Chicago lose and have Robert Griffin III and Washington either beat or tie the Dallas Cowboys.
Defensive captain Justin Tuck, who sat out the Ravens game with a shoulder injury, plans on returning this weekend. He said it was hard watching the team play like garbage, which is a kind way of characterizing his description of the team's performance.
However, he insisted the team didn't quit.
"Watching the film, you see guys hustling, but something is off," he said. "We got to try our best to find what it is and it starts with everybody worrying about their individual techniques.
"... Out of the 53 guys on this football team, if all of us can go to sleep at night knowing that we put forth the greatest effort to prepare and on the football field, we will be fine," Tuck added. "That's is all we ask of our guys, make sure you do your job, and in turn if you got 11 guys doing their jobs on the football field, that is when we play well as a football team."
Offensive tackle Will Beatty said the mistakes can be corrected with just a little more effort.
"Coach is emphasizing that this is the last game, if this is your last game, go out with a bang," Beatty said. "Don't hold your head down. Make sure you're doing everything you can and build on this game. If we have the opportunity, things fall in place, make it to the playoffs, you had a good game so you're ready for the playoffs. It's not feel sorry for yourself, take it easy, it's the last game, let's get out of here. It's work hard, prepare."
The problem for the Giants is they have prepared well the past two weeks and it has not carried over to Sunday. The result: five losses in their last seven games. The 2 1/2 game lead they had in the NFC East disappeared and the division will be won by either Washington (9-6) or Dallas (8-7). The best the Giant can do is get a wild card.
"Every Wednesday you come in and put the last game behind you and it can't be any different," guard Chris Snee said. "As frustrating as this has been, beating the teams that we did and then losing to the teams that we have, it's been frustrating. We haven't played well. It's hard to explain, it's hard to understand, but that's what's happened."
The Giants can't afford not to show up. The Eagles probably are going to be trying a little harder to win one for their coach, whose job clearly is in jeopardy after winning only four games.
A third straight loss would leave the Giants out of the playoffs for the third time in four years.
"The last two weeks have been pretty embarrassing," placekicker Lawrence Tynes said. "There is no other word to say when you go out and play like we have the last two weeks. It's not a reflection of our head coach or this organization and what they have done in the past. It puts a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, so we have to play better. We have to dig down deep and figure something out between now and Sunday to at least go out, if we are not in the playoffs, thinking OK, I played well the last game of the year."
NOTES: The Giants placed TE Travis Beckum on injured reserve with a left knee problem. He was hurt in practice Friday. He played only four games this season while recovering from an ACL injury in the Super Bowl. ... Beckum's spot was filled by DB Terrence Frederick, signed off the practice squad. Cornerback Brandon Bing, was signed to the practice squad. ... CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), C David Baas (hip/shoulder), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), DT Chris Canty (knee), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Snee (hip) did not practice Wednesday. Safety Kenny Phillips (knee) and Tuck (shoulder) were limited. Safety Tyler Sash (hamstring) practiced fully.