Giant collapse continues in Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Tom Coughlin's face looked as if it were in pain, and this time it had nothing to do with the bitter frigid cold at Lambeau Field.

The New York Giants' head coach appeared stunned and completely shell-shocked after watching his team get pounded by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 45-17.

The Giants had everything to play for in front of them. Win, and they were in the playoffs. But they couldn't relive their magic from the 2007 season, when they won the NFC Championship Game here.

Instead, the Giants showed up in Green Bay looking as though they were still suffering from a hangover from the collapse against Philadelphia last week.

In fact, you can call this the Giants' version of the hit movie "The Hangover." Just like those four buddies, the Giants can't seem to piece together what has gone so wrong in so short a span of time. But, instead of losing their best friend, the Giants have lost their swagger, and quite possibly their season.

Nobody can seem to explain what has happened since the Giants led the Philadelphia Eagles 31-10 with 8:17 to go last Sunday.

From that point on, Perry Fewell's defense has been outscored by a staggering score of 73-17.

The Giants now must win next week in Washington in the season finale against Rex Grossman and the Redskins, and then hope for help. If the Packers lose to the Bears at home, the Giants will get a playoff spot. The only other scenario that gets the Giants in is if New Orleans loses its final two games, starting on Monday night against Atlanta.

It should have never come down to this. But Michael Vick engineered one of the greatest comebacks anyone has seen in recent NFL memory last week. And this week, Rodgers sliced up the Giants' defense as if it were a piece of hibachi steak at Benihana.

The Giants were down 14-0 in the first quarter, and didn't come alive until the second quarter, when they tied the game at 14. But after they evened the game with 5:13 left before halftime, the Giants were outscored 31-3.

"Guys came in knowing what is at stake," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I didn't think there was any [hangover]. There wasn't for me. But this team played like it was.

"They played harder than we did. It is a sick feeling in my stomach to be able to say that."

The Giants' locker room was boiling over with frustration.

"It is at an all-time high," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "I didn't think it could be worse than last week. Last week was more stunning. This is just disappointing. You can't go out there and have bad performance after bad performance and keep saying that we will get it right. We just have a tendency to not play well enough."

And that has been the Giants' weakness the entire season. When facing their stiffest competition, the Giants have found every way to self-destruct.

Twice, they had the Eagles on the ropes only to allow them to escape with clutch plays. They practically gave away a game to the Titans earlier in the season when they couldn't stop getting flagged for stupid penalties.

And this week's game against Green Bay further illustrated what has been the Giants' primary weakness: turnovers.

The Giants turned the ball over six times on Sunday. Eli Manning threw four interceptions, and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs each lost a fumble. The Giants simply are not good enough to survive their own self-inflicted wounds. Manning has now thrown 24 interceptions this season.

Early on, many of the picks could be blamed on bad luck -- and some of his receivers, for passes glancing off their hands.

On Sunday, Manning took the blame for the four picks as he forced some of them, hoping to make a big play. The Giants cannot survive when Manning throws four picks and his counterpart, Rodgers, plays a near flawless game by throwing for 404 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers, who finished with a 139.9 quarterback rating, passed for 400 yards for the first time in his career.

"There's no way anyone wins in this league when you turn the ball over six times," Coughlin said. "It's a very, very bad part of our team that we've demonstrated over and over this year. We thought we had it under control, but obviously we didn't have it under control tonight."

If Coughlin can't get his team to win next week and finish with 10 victories, his critics will have even more ammunition to use when calling for his job.

Losing like this, in such an important game, with the playoffs on the line a week after suffering a traumatizing collapse against the Eagles, is damaging.

A loss next week means speculation will begin immediately on Coughlin's future.

"We've got at least one more game left to play and if the season ends next week, I don't want it to end with this kind of taste in my mouth," Tuck said. "We had destiny in our hands tonight and we came out and played like we didn't have anything to play for."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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