Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A day after cracks started appearing in their locker room, New York Giants players engaged in some damage control.
After Sunday’s 23-0 loss to Seattle ensured the Giants (5-9) their first losing season since 2004, coach Tom Coughlin called the performance of his offense “pathetic” and safety Antrel Rolle said it looked as though some players were playing without a pulse. Sunday evening, tight end Brandon Myers tweeted a couple of angry apparent responses to the criticism, indicating he believed at least some of it was directed his way.
Monday afternoon, Myers said he was misinterpreted.
“I let my emotions get the best of me,” Myers said in reference to his tweets. “The thing that we have to do the next two weeks is stick together as a team and play together and try and get two wins. It was a miscommunication. Like they tell us all the time, think about what you say before you put it out there. It was just bad on my part, and I’m just going to move on. We’ve moved on. It’s not a big deal.”
Myers said he didn’t apologize to any teammates Monday because he didn’t think he had to. As people talked Monday, it seemed clear that some words had been exchanged in the locker room postgame. But true to Giants form, everybody agreed that it wouldn’t affect them moving forward.
“It was just the emotion of the game,” Myers said. “The way we were playing, it was frustrating. But everyone’s got each other’s backs, and we move on. That’s what we’ve done. So it’s not even an issue.”
The Giants are the only team in the NFL that’s been shut out in a game this year, and they’ve been shut out twice. Quarterback Eli Manning leads the league with 25 interceptions after throwing five in Sunday’s loss. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is struggling through a miserable contract season and does not appear to be competing as hard as he should be. Myers has been a disappointing free-agent signing, and top wide receiver Victor Cruz left Sunday’s game with a concussion and a knee sprain. The offense is unquestionably a mess, and while they can insist they’re not pointing fingers at any one area, it’s fairly clear that there’s one deserving of more blame than others.
“There’s nothing much to be excited about,” Manning said. “We had a lot of negative plays. We’re frustrated as an offense, and I’m sure the defense is frustrated seeing us go out there and not play very well.”
The players on the defense worked to soften the criticism where possible Monday. Rolle, for example, insisted he stood by what he said about players needing to play with more passion. But he wanted it made clear that he’d work not to allow problems to linger in the locker room.
“We’re a team, win, lose or draw,” Rolle said. “There’s no group that’s greater than any other. Obviously, right now, our offense isn’t where they want to be, and neither is the defense. Right now, we’ve just got to find a way to win, find a way to stay together and do whatever it takes to get a win on Sunday. That’s what it’s all about at this point.”
Rolle’s fellow captain, defensive end Justin Tuck, said the defense feels it should be doing more to help out the offense. He suggested that he might take a turn on the scout team to go against the offensive line in practice if that would help. And he said the fact that the Giants were shut out and turned the ball over five times doesn’t exonerate the players on his side of the ball.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to pick your brothers up,” Tuck said. “Seattle had five interceptions [Sunday]. As a defense, we look at that and we think we should have had six.”
Point taken, but Coughlin himself seemed contrite about the extent to which emotions got the better of him and everyone after Sunday’s game. Coughlin said Rolle should have kept his critical words in-house, but he wasn’t surprise that things bubbled over after the game.
“There was a lot of emotion going into that game,” Coughlin said. “We were convinced that this was an opportunity for us to gain some respect by playing very well against arguably the No. 1 team in the NFC, so there was a tremendous buildup during the course of the week along those lines. As we got closer to the game, there were obvious emotions involved, and the idea that we could go out and play together and complement each other was something we talked about at great length.
“So when it didn’t result that way, the frustration was there. It was very real. It was very emotional. Am I surprised by it? No.”
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- New Jersey native and author of two published novels