Giants head coach Tom Coughlin wanted to finish the 2013 season strong, and his team did, by rolling over the Washington Redskins, 20-6, this afternoon at rain-soaked MetLife Stadium. He told the media he was proud of the way his team hung in after four more offensive starters (QB Eli Manning, LT Will Beatty and WR Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle) succumbed to injury…..
“I’m proud of our team, not only how they rallied today, but to win the last two ball games. I thought the way we played today – we had a lot of injuries; a lot of things happened out there – obviously not a great day, and the weather too. But everybody hung in there on both sides and battled well. There were a lot of turnovers in the game, naturally, because of the weather, but I liked the way we finished.”
“We did put the ball on the ground there toward the end and we made substantial yardage. We were playing down to our last offensive lineman – we didn’t have any left. We had a couple of injuries there, so I was happy with the way we finished. Our defense played very, very well, and did not allow them really any points in the second half. The outcome of the game was good.”
“We handled some of the more difficult areas well. We did blow a couple of snaps back, but the punter handled that and did a good job with it. I thought with our special teams, we didn’t quite cover the kicks the way we wanted to today and the ball came out a little bit, but we got the same type of returns. It certainly was, from the start to the finish…the last 10 games, we did win seven, and I was proud of the way they stayed together as a team. That was the whole idea.”
“We had good leadership. With regard to that, our captains did a good job and they can’t do it alone. The attitude and the approach that this team took, regardless of some of the very difficult Mondays that we’ve had, was very impressive from the standpoint of maturity and professionalism, and I was proud of that. No questions? Good.”
You talked about the team and emphasized the team finishing strong. Individually, what are your thoughts on how Jerrel [Jernigan] finished the season?
“I was really pleased with him. The way in which he played and the way he finished. He grew into a guy that wanted the ball and did things well with the ball when he got it. The throw from Eli [Manning] to Jerrel [Jernigan] for the touchdown catch was an excellent throw and an excellent catch among the two people in the crowd. Then, we were really trying to get the ball to him in that fashion in the second half in the run and it gave us the opportunity. He had a lot of yards for two runs, one of which was obviously a score. He played very well and he responded to the circumstances toward the end of the year. His play time increased and he responded very well to it and I was happy for him. The way he played – he’s a tough guy and we saw that down the stretch.”
How bad is the ankle injury to Eli [Manning]?
“It’s a high ankle sprain.”
It had to be strange for you to see him limping off the field.
“I don’t want to see it again.”
What about [Will] Beatty?
“That’s a fracture of some type. I’m not exactly sure tib[ula], fib[ula] or just one of those. I don’t have that information for you, but he’s hurt.”
Now that the season’s over, can you say definitively that you do want to come back next year?
“Don’t ask me that. I’m not answering that type of question right now. There will be an evaluation of everything, I’m sure, and we’ll go from there.”
What did you think of [Justin] Tuck? It could have been his last game because we don’t know what’s going to happen with his contract either.
“He played well all year. He did what I had wanted him to do and what he wanted to do. He was just an example and he played hard. I thought he was an excellent example for our younger players. He practiced, he played well. He really kept his mouth shut most of the year and did a nice job with that. He responded well and had a very good year.”
The beating Eli [Manning] took this year physically finally culminated with the rare sight of him having to leave the game. Do you have any concerns that this type of season might carry over for him or do you think that, no matter who is here next year, he will be better?
“He’ll respond and hopefully we’ll do a job on the other end as well by protecting him.”
It’s only been over for 10 minutes, but what do you think will stand out for you about this season? What will be your impression?
“If I want to look at it in extremes, the first thing is the 0-6 in my mind and how did that happen. The rest is the fact that we battled back from that. Too little, too late. Again, when I said I was proud of this team, I am. I know it’s not what everybody wanted; I didn’t want it, either, but 7-9 is a heck of a lot better than 6-10.”
When Eli [Manning] first got hurt, he stayed in for one more play. Could you tell that he was hurting?
“Eli [Manning] was doing what he always does. When I saw him having difficulty coming off the field, though, I didn’t think that he’d be able to continue.”
In a lot of ways, this franchise has been built around Eli [Manning]’s durability – his ability to stay on the field every Sunday. Because of that, in the offseason, do you find every way possible to improve the team as far as protecting him? Is that a priority?
It will be an objective, for sure.”