Five Giant losses: Buried in Baltimore

As the playoffs move into conference championship weekend, we take a look at five games that cost the Giants an opportunity to defend their title.

The Giants finished 9-7, but needed one more win to get back into the playoffs. We’ve looked at the losses to the Eagles, Steelers, Redskins and Falcons so far. Now we examine the Giants' 33-14 loss at Baltimore in Week 16.

What went wrong: In what pretty much amounted to the Giants’ last stand, knowing they likely had to win their final two games to make the playoffs, Tom Coughlin’s team remained in the catatonic state it was in the previous week in Atlanta.

For the second consecutive week, the Giants' defense couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback or get enough stops. And the offense was virtually non-existent when it mattered most.

Turning point: Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered the way they played, but the Giants were only down 17-7 with 3:15 remaining in the first half, when the Ravens marched 76 yards in 2:11 for a touchdown.

Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 21-yard pass to start the drive. Flacco then completed a three-yard pass to Anquan Boldin on a 3rd-and-2 that was upheld after replay. A few plays later, Flacco connected with Ray Rice on a short pass across the middle, and Rice scampered in for a 27-yard touchdown that put the Giants down 24-7 going into halftime.

Giant regret: Flacco went after Corey Webster from the get-go, and it wasn’t pretty. Flacco and Smith hooked up on a six-yard touchdown pass early in the game.

The Giants actually had a defensive fumble recovery at their own 7-yard-line overturned by instant replay. Flacco and Smith connected on their touchdown three plays later.

Flacco later hit Smith on a 43-yard play that set up the Baltimore quarterback’s one-yard touchdown sneak to put the Giants down 14-0.

Flacco and Smith hooked up five times for 88 yards and a touchdown. Flacco finished with 309 yards and two touchdowns.

What if: If the Giants had shown up and won this game, they could’ve been playoff-bound with a victory in the regular-season finale over Philadelphia.

But we’ll never know, since they were crushed and left their playoff fate in the hands of others, which ended up costing them in the end.

Now the Giants have all offseason to wonder why they disappeared in Atlanta and Baltimore with the playoffs on the line.

“I talked (to the team) about two games that will probably drive me insane, which would be Atlanta and Baltimore,” Coughlin said the day after the season ended. “Not a question about how we lost the game (but) the question about why we didn’t play better.”

Was the Baltimore loss the most damaging to the Giants’ playoff hopes in 2012? Tell us what you think below.