EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Being eliminated from playoff contention is nothing new for the New York Giants. It's now happened four times in five years.
The change this season is having it occur in early December.
For the first time since Tom Coughlin took over as coach in 2004, the Giants (5-8) knew on Monday they were out of the postseason picture with three weeks left in the season.
The end came Sunday in San Diego when the Chargers posted a 37-14 victory, leaving the Giants with nothing to play for but pride and jobs.
It's not surprising the end came early this season. The Giants lost their first six games and they kept their postseason hopes alive this long by winning four straight. A loss at home to Dallas on Nov. 24 made the end only a matter of time.
"Obviously this is not the situation we wanted to find ourselves in," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "I think the things we have to remember and understand, what we're going to continue to preach in the locker room, is the prideful organization. The greatest city, the greatest organization in the world, and we're going to go out there and perform. We have a lot to play for. I think every time you take the field you're representing yourself, your family, your team and your city, in that order. You have to make sure you do it to the best of your ability."
The Giants will get a chance to show their pride Sunday when they host the Seattle Seahawks (11-2), the NFC's best team so far.
Coughlin said the Giants' objectives won't change in the final three games. They want to win and he is not going to go out of his way to look at younger players. If they deserve to play, they will.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, won't be shut down with the playoffs out of reach for a second straight season. Coughlin said JPP is feeling better and might be a possibility this week.
"As I have said many, many times in the past, we have to deal with reality," Coughlin said. "The truth of the matter is we have to apply ourselves, and hope that we can. I have used the word respect, and we can gain and earn some of the respect back by virtue of how we play in these last three games, and that's all we can possibly think about right now."
The reasons for the Giants' failure this season are obvious. It starts with the offense.
Supposedly the strength of the team, it never played like that. Kevin Gilbride's group has turned over the ball an NFL-high 34 times, leading to 116 points for opponents. Eli Manning has thrown 20 interceptions, his second highest total. The injury-ravaged offensive line has allowed him to be sacked 32 times, the most in his career.
Defensively, the Giants didn't play well until middle linebacker Jon Beason was acquired from Carolina in midseason.
Special teams have played well lately, but gave up three punts returns for touchdowns and another TD was scored by the Eagles on a bad punt snap.
Combined it has left the Giants on the verge of their second losing season in Coughlin's tenure, the first being in 2004. New York has made the playoff five of his 10 seasons, posting winning records six times and .500 marks twice.
Injuries didn't help. Safety Stevie Brown was lost before the season. Offensive linemen David Baas and Chris Snee, fullback Henry Hynoski and halfback David Wilson followed him on injured reserve. Cornerback Corey Webster has been limited with an assortment on injuries.
"It's definitely a little disappointing," receiver Victor Cruz said. "Obviously you want to go and have a good season and put some good things together and hope you can make it through the playoffs and all of those good things.
"All we can take care of is what you can do each and every week on Sunday. ‘'
All the Giants can do now in the standings is play spoiler, especially with Seattle playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and Detroit looking to win the NFC North.
"We just want to go in there and win it," Cruz said. "No matter what role we're playing, whatever title you want to put on it, we want to go in there and put some things together and put some points on the board and win the ballgame."