EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For the New York Giants, playing the Philadelphia Eagles is a long-shot last chance at making the playoffs.
For Andy Reid, it’s probably a last chance in Philly.
The Giants (8-7) try to finish what has turned into a frustrating season on a good note Sunday when they face Philadelphia (4-11) in what likely will be Reid’s final game as Eagles head coach.
Having blown a 6-2 start and two-game late-November lead in the NFC East, the defending Super Bowl champions need to beat the Eagles, have Minnesota and Chicago lose, and have the Redskins beat or tie Dallas just to get a wild-card berth.
It’s not likely, especially after being torched the past two weeks by Atlanta and Baltimore by a combined 67-14.
“The last two weeks have been pretty embarrassing,” said Lawrence Tynes, who kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl twice in the past five seasons. “There is no other word to say when you go out and play like we have. It’s not a reflection of our head coach or this organization, and what they have done in the past. It puts a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, so we have to play better. We have to dig down deep and figure something out between now and Sunday to at least go out, if we are not in the playoffs, thinking: ‘OK, I played well the last game of the year.’ “
Turning things around against the Eagles is not going to be easy. Philadelphia has won seven of the last eight against the Giants, including a 19-17 win in late September, just before the Eagles fell apart.
Making things even tougher will be how much the Eagles will be motivated to send Reid out a winner. They also will have Michael Vick returning to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion against Dallas in early November.
Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck saw the irony in Vick’s return, especially because he has always made life miserable for the defense.
“They are going to be fired up,” Tuck said. “We expect to get their best shot, no question. Regardless if it is Andy Reid’s last game or whatever it may be, Vick there, whoever, this rivalry between these two teams, it always means something. I expect it to be one of those old-school Philly versus Giants football games.”
Reid refused to discuss his future, saying he had not even thought of this as his final game as coach.
“I normally don’t do those kinds of things; it’s hard to look forward and look behind in this business, so you just look straight ahead and at the opponent,” Reid said. The past two seasons have been brutal and tragic for Reid.
The Eagles became the NFC’s anointed team in 2011 after a free-agent spending spree. They came up way short with an 8-8 record and didn’t make the playoffs.
Before this season started, Garrett Reid, the coach’s troubled 29-year-old son, was found dead in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp.
After a 3-1 start, the Eagles fell apart.
Philadelphia safety Kurt Coleman said the team will fight for their coach Sunday.
“Coach has given us so much,” Coleman said. “To go through what he’s gone through and to continue to fight for us, we’re not going to stop fighting for him. “
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said the Eagles would like nothing better than to go out with a win and avoid what would be Reid’s lowest victory total since taking over as coach in 1999.
“Andy had a hand in bringing everybody here in,” Jenkins said. “Obviously he put faith in us and had a lot of trust in us. We haven’t been able to live up to the expectations of the coaches or the fans. We still have to try and give whatever else we can give right now. The only thing we can do is to try and get a win in the last game.”
The Giants also want to end the season on a high note, especially after losing 5 of 7 in the second half of the season.
“We’re not defeated,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “We still have one game to go in the season and we know no matter what the outcome will be after that game, we’re going to go out there and fight extremely hard. Like you said, we’re playing against the Eagles. We’re playing against a division rival, we’re going out there and playing a game and trying to be as effective as we can.”
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka still believes.
“It’s not all gone yet,” he said. “We’re still looking forward. At the end of the season we’ll reflect and see where things went wrong. But for right now, it’s about getting a win and doing what we have to do so if things happen to fall how we want them, we’re still in a position to get to the playoffs.”