Whenever Tom Coughlin does end his run as coach of the New York Giants, there's a decent chance that he'll write a book.
When he does write that book, one of the most interesting chapters is going to be the one that discusses why his Giants teams have such an alarming propensity to play flat, uninspired football in games that they absolutely have to win.
One of the games that deserves prime placement in that chapter is Sunday night's contest with the Eagles.
Facing a quarterback who hadn't started in a year and an Eagles defense that has been overrun more often than Zuccotti Park, the Giants played as listless a game as they have all season. So it was little surprise that they wound up losing 17-10.
Culprits were everywhere you looked. Eli Manning threw an awful interception, receivers dropped a slew of passes, the offensive line couldn't block in any phase of the game and they actually gave DeSean Jackson another chance to beat them on a punt return.
Most damning of all, though, was a defense that couldn't stop Vince Young on an 18-play, 80-yard drive that featured six third-down conversions en route to the winning touchdown to Riley Cooper. The Giants had all the momentum in the world after tying the score at the start of the fourth quarter, especially with the Eagles having suffered all sorts of late-game demons, and the defense gave it all back in a little less than nine minutes.
Eli Manning would have his chance to rectify matters, and it looked like he would when he hit Victor Cruz for a huge gain into Eagles territory. But for the second straight week, it was not meant to be. Jason Babin sacked Manning on the play after Cruz's big one, Manning fumbled and the Giants were losers for the second straight week.
It's a truly awful loss for the Giants, both because they couldn't beat a team on life support when Young threw three interceptions and because of what it now means for the rest of the season. The Giants and Cowboys are now tied at the top of the NFC East and, with the Saints and Packers in the next two weeks, there's a good chance the Cowboys will be in first by themselves when the teams meet in Week 14.
Of course, this schizophrenic Giants team could win both those games and surprise absolutely no one. Figuring out the Coughlin-era Giants is a feat fit for the greatest psychiatrists of history, not sportswriters.
There's a good bet that the talk of second half collapses will catch fire, and it is hard to argue with such a read on things after watching the Giants sleepwalk their way through this loss. Give all the credit in the world to the Eagles for their effort, but it is hard not to look at the Giants and wonder just what's wrong at their heart that they can't get the job done when the stakes are highest.
Especially, and most painfully, when they have the Eagles right where they want them on their own home field.