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Palladino: No-Show Giants In Big Trouble Now

'From the Pressbox'
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

Ernie is the author of "Lombardi and Landry." He'll be covering football throughout the season.

New England seems so far away now.

Remember that inspirational win just four games ago? The one where they last pressured a quarterback? Where they were in it until the fourth quarter, where Eli Manning brought the Giants back in heart-stopping fashion?

It seems so long ago now. That 24-20 win was supposed to be the catalyst to avert the yearly second-half swoon.

So long ago. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New Orleans later, the swoon is in full swing. Their latest, last night's 49-24 no-show loss to the Saints, put them in a heck of a pickle. Now, after Drew Brees got done racking up more than 500 yards of offense on their battered defense, one has to start wondering about the mental state of this team.

Despite their 6-5 record, they are currently out of the wild card race, a game behind Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta.

You have to assume things will only get worse next week against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers, a combination that can make even New Orleans' offense look like some pop-gun operation.

The question here is not with the offense, though it would be nice to see them put up a few first-half points, if only for show. Last night marked the fourth straight game the Giants have scored six or fewer first-half points. But Eli Manning came back with a nice touchdown at the start of the second half to pull the Giants within 11.

And then the defense gave it all back, with interest. And that's where the real issue lies.

Is this defense too injured, too hurt, to be effective the rest of the year?

That unit had one goal in mind -- to pressure Brees and force him into mistakes.

The result? Zero sacks. Zero turnovers.

And the added enjoyment of seeing Brees lead his team up and down the field at will.

The picture doesn't brighten, either. Justin Tuck still looks like he's battling through his nagging neck and groin injuries, unable to explode like the younger version. Osi Umenyiora, absent from the frame the entire first half, went out with an ankle sprain in the third quarter and could miss time. There was no charge whatsoever from the inside.

The linebackers were a young mess, unable to mount a challenge to big tight end Jimmy Graham. The secondary? Were they out there?

Give the offense some blame, too. Although Manning had a great second half, hitting 21 of 21 (one short of the league record for consecutive completions) for 241 yards and two touchdowns to make the final score somewhat respectable, it all came too late. His first-drive end zone interception changed the entire tone of the game.

It was just a matter of time before the Saints exploded.

They did, and they may well have taken the Giants' season with them.

Let's face it, they're not going to beat 11-0 Green Bay next week, not unless the defense pays a quick visit to Lourdes and gets well in a hurry.

That's not going to happen. So the collapse after a 6-2 start will in all likelihood continue, perhaps right through their first meeting with Dallas.

Will it cost Tom Coughlin his job? Quite possibly, if it all goes down the drain. Things won't lighten up by year's end, with the Giants playing Dallas twice in the final four weeks. A couple of wins might save him, even if there is no playoff spot for a third straight season.

The way the Giants played New Orleans, though, there doesn't seem like much hope at this point.

Things looked so much brighter a month ago.

Do the Giants have any chance of beating Green Bay? Be heard in the comments below...

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