With 4-8 record, Gi­ants won­der­ing what might have been this sea­son

The News-Times - - SPORTS - BY BOB GLAUBER

What if?

It’s a ques­tion that haunts Odell Beck­ham Jr., some­thing that gnaws at him when­ever he thinks about what might have been.

“Trust me, I think about it all the time,” he said.

Saquon Barkley says it both­ers him, too. “Yeah, that one (stinks),” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, part of you wants to look back and say we let that one slip away.” What if?

What if the Gi­ants hadn’t blown that 19-3 first-half lead in a 25-22 loss to the Ea­gles, a game in which Jake El­liott kicked the goa­head 43-yard field goal with 22 sec­onds left? What if they were go­ing into Sun­day’s game against the Red­skins on a four-game win­ning streak with the po­ten­tial to pull even with Wash­ing­ton — and pos­si­bly Philadel­phia — and stay within range of the di­vi­sion­lead­ing Cow­boys?

And what if they didn’t ruin an­other chance at vic­tory in Week 5 after a stir­ring come­back against Carolina? Gra­ham Gano’s 63-yard field goal with one sec­ond left gave the Pan­thers a 33-31 vic­tory.

“When I said what I said, it wasn’t like just say­ing this for any rea­son, at­ten­tion of any kind to make a story,” Beck­ham said, re­fer­ring to his sug­ges­tion a month ago that at 1-7, the Gi­ants could run the ta­ble in the sec­ond half of the sea­son and po­ten­tially win the di­vi­sion. “What I be­lieved was pretty much right there in front of us ex­cept for us not fin­ish­ing that Philly game.”

At some level, at 4-8, the Gi­ants are en­gaged in a game of woulda-coulda should a, a sad but true state of af­fairs caused by their in­abil­ity to put away the in­jury-rid­dled Ea­gles when they had them down. The de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons staged a re­mark­able come­back and may have saved their own sea­son.

In­stead, it ru­ined the Gi­ants’ sea­son, leav­ing them at this point with less than a 1-per­cent chance of win­ning the di­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to a sta­tis­ti­cal break­down by ESPN. If they win and the Ea­gles beat the Cow­boys in Dal­las, the Gi­ants will be two games off the di­vi­sional lead with three to play.

A loss against the Red­skins on Sun­day, and the Gi­ants are of­fi­cially out of the tour­na­ment.

“Just hope that it’s not the one that’s go­ing to haunt us,” Beck­ham said of the loss to the Ea­gles. “At this point, we re­ally can only fo­cus on Wash­ing­ton.”

The Gi­ants lost all rea­son­able hope of com­pet­ing for the play­offs with that loss in Philadel­phia, which turned on Eli Man­ning’s bru­tal in­ter­cep­tion near the end of the first half. The of­fense pro­duced only three more points and the de­fense buck­led in the sec­ond half.

Cou­ple that with the crush­ing de­feat in Carolina, and the Gi­ants’ sea­son might come down to those two late-game losses.

“We’re play­ing at a high level in the last four games,” Barkley said. “We’re 3-1 and you can’t com­plain about that. But you want to be 4-0. That (Ea­gles) game was sim­i­lar to the Pan­thers game where we had it and let it slip out of our hands.”

The Gi­ants could very well be elim­i­nated in the next week or two, but even if they are, Beck­ham will find mean­ing in the re­main­ing games.

“We’re go­ing out there to win, and if our sea­son’s over, I’m mak­ing sure some­body else is com­ing home with us. That’s the goal,” he said. “The goal is to win all these games and see what hap­pens, but if not, you’re go­ing to have a tough game to play against us for the last four games.”

Barkley be­lieves the ex­pe­ri­ence, painful as it may be, ul­ti­mately will help the team.

“I be­lieve this whole thing is a learn­ing mo­ment that’s build­ing up to be a great story one day,” he said.

Bill Kostroun / As­so­ci­ated Press

New York Gi­ants run­ning back Saquon Barkley warms up prior a game against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 2 in East Ruther­ford, N.J. Barkley and the rest of the Gi­ants are left to won­der ‘what if?’ in the midst of a lost sea­son.

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