Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants drags Washington Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh into the end zone while scoring a touchdown during their game at FedEx Field on January 2, 2011.
The New York Giants got the win. They didn't get the help.
Now they're a 10-win team not in the playoffs, an outcome that seemed improbable just two weeks ago.
The Giants forced four turnovers Sunday in a 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins, a result that was rendered moot for postseason purposes when Green Bay beat Chicago 10-3 to claim the remaining wild card berth in the NFC.
New York finished 10-6, making the Giants and Tampa Bay the first NFC teams since 1991 to miss the playoffs despite double-digit victories. The Giants have only themselves to blame: They blew a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead in a loss to NFC East leader Philadelphia on Dec. 19, then got blown out 45-17 by the Packers last week, costing them the tiebreakers against two teams also in the hunt.
Last year, the Giants started 5-0 and lost eight of 11 down the stretch. The back-to-back late-season fades have raised questions about coach Tom Coughlin's job security just three years after he led to the team to the Super Bowl title.
But his players showed up against the Redskins (6-10), never trailing in a game that was played at the same time as Chicago-Green Bay. Eli Manning completed 17 of 29 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and Mario Manningham had 101 yards receiving on four receptions, including a 92-yard touchdown catch.
Derek Hagan, starting in place of the injured Hakeem Nicks, had a career-high 70 yards receiving on six catches. Osi Umenyiora stripped Rex Grossman twice.
Grossman went 26 for 44 for 336 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Redskins, but he also lost two fumbles. His 64-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Armstrong was Grossman's longest completion of his career. Grossman had seven touchdowns and four interceptions and a 1-2 record in his three starts after coach Mike Shanahan's benching of Donovan McNabb.
Santana Moss had nine receptions for 74 yards, setting a career high in catches (93) for the season.
Shanahan matched his worst full-season record in his 17 years as an NFL coach -- he was also 6-10 with Denver in 1999 -- but 2010 will be most remembered for Albert Haynesworth's suspension for the rest of the season with four games to play and McNabb's benching with three games to go.
One consolation for Redskins fans: New York didn't make the playoffs, either. Taunting chants of "Green Bay won!" rang out in the closing minute around the stadium.
Already starting a rejigged offensive line, the Giants had to shuffle things around again when guard-turned-center Rich Seubert was carted off the field with a dislocated right kneecap in the first quarter, forcing backup utility man Kevin Boothe to play center for the first time in his NFL career.
Still, the Giants moved the ball well enough. A 78-yard drive ended with a field goal, and back-to-back nice catches -- a juggling grab by Hagan and a spinning one-handed snag by Kevin Boss -- set up a two-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs to give New York a 10-0 second-quarter lead.
The Giants might have had more if Manning hadn't thrown his NFL-leading 25th interception, a pass that went off both of Manningham's hands.
Washington's Graham Gano pulled a 30-yard field goal attempt wide left -- his 11th miss of the season. But the Redskins finally scored when Grossman went 5 for 6 for 77 yards on a drive late in the first half, finding the end zone on a one-yard throw to Fred Davis to make the score 10-7 at the break.
Manningham atoned for his earlier miscue by getting behind cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the only Pro Bowl selection on Washington's roster, for the 92-yard touchdown catch on New York's opening drive of the second half, giving the Giants a 17-7 lead. Armstrong's touchdown pulled the Redskins within three in the fourth quarter, but Washington couldn't avoid finishing 2-6 at home, its worst mark since 1994.