LANDOVER, Md. (AP) - Giants coach Tom Coughlin barked at Mario Manningham after the receiver let a pass go through his hands, resulting in an interception. Later, Coughlin hustled over to congratulate Manningham after a 92-yard touchdown catch.
The 64-year-old coach cursed when Lawrence Tynes missed a field-goal attempt. And Coughlin also made his way onto the field for pats on players' backsides after New York's defense forced one of its four turnovers in a season-closing 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
A lot of energy, a lot of passion, to the very end,'' Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield said in a quiet visitors' locker room.That's what he does best.''
Coughlin will not be doing any of that sort of cursing or cajoling in the playoffs, because the Giants (10-6) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first NFC teams since 1991 to miss out on the postseason despite double-digit victory totals. He will, however, be back as New York's coach next season, even if the team faded down the stretch two years in a row.
``Not to be able to play in the playoffs is very disappointing,'' said Coughlin, who has been the Giants' coach since 2004 and led them to the Super Bowl title at the end of the 2007 season.
The Giants wasted a 21-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 19, then were routed by 28 points against the Green Bay Packers last week. It was Green Bay - another 10-6 team - that got the last NFC wild-card berth by beating the Chicago Bears 10-3 Sunday.
It was all self-inflicted,'' said Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck, who had an interception Sunday.We were in the driver's seat. And then we were in the passenger seat. And now we're in the back seat.''
Still, co-owner John Mara said after the game that Coughlin will keep his job.
``There was never any doubt in my mind,'' Mara said.
Coughlin didn't want his players thinking about playoff permutations Sunday - and said even he wasn't aware the Giants were eliminated until getting to the locker room at game's end. Giants quarterback Eli Manning knew, because he noticed a replay of Green Bay's outcome-sealing interception when it was shown on the stadium's large video screen.
Washington's fans saw that, too, and taunted the Giants by chanting, ``Green Bay won!''
That shows you the state of their team - that they have to cheer about us failing,'' Cofield said.That's when you have no success.''
The Redskins wrapped up Mike Shanahan's first year in charge - one that will be remembered for flaps with Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth - with a 6-10 record, matching the coach's worst in a full NFL season. Washington went 2-6 at home, its worst mark since going 0-8 in 1994.
When you finish the way we did, with six wins,'' Shanahan said,we got some areas to work on.''
Finishing last in the NFC East for the third consecutive season, the Redskins made the types of mistakes that losing teams make, including missing a 30-yard field goal and a stretch of three penalties in five snaps. Rex Grossman, starting in place of McNabb for the third time, went 26 for 44 for 336 yards with two touchdowns, including a career-long 64-yard toss to Anthony Armstrong for a score. But Grossman also threw an interception and lost two fumbles.
He was stripped on both plays by Osi Umenyiora, who tied an NFL record with 10 forced fumbles in a season.
Like his teammates, Umenyiora was hardly in an excited mood afterward.
I just wish I could have done more of that to help this team win more games,'' Umenyiora said.We won, but it almost feels like we lost.''
Coughlin praised his players for turning things around after their previous two games.
Manning completed 17 of 29 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Manningham had 101 yards receiving on four receptions, while Derek Hagan had a career-high 70 yards receiving on six catches.
A spinning, one-handed grab by tight end Kevin Boss set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs, running behind a reshuffled offensive line. Kevin Boothe played center in the NFL for the first time after Rich Seubert was carted off the field with a dislocated right kneecap in the first quarter.
In the end, though, the Giants knew that nothing that happened Sunday truly mattered, because their season went awry in that wrenching loss to Philadelphia.
You wanted the other part of the package. To win the 10 games was nice,'' Coughlin said.But we all wanted to win the 10 games so we could get a chance to play next week as well.''
He knows he will coach next year, at least.