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Giants started to believe hype

As Tom Coughlin climbed the steps of that podium in the interview room, he had long since lost patience with waiting for his face to reach the microphone. His jaw jutted, the spit sprayed out of his mouth and the Giants' coach had started to rip the Giants' performance before his postgame news conference began.

"Beyond belief that we would play this poorly," Coughlin grumbled. "That was not anywhere near the kind of football that we teach."

Here was the old, "I coached great, they played lousy," out of Coughlin, the kind of distancing of a disastrous loss that is so disappointing to hear out of a coach constantly preaching accountability. Whatever the power of his presence in the Giants' locker room this past week, clearly Coughlin's hadn't been the dominant voice in the collective mind of his players. Whomever they had been listening to, it wasn't him.

This 24-21 loss to the Vikings was a downright disaster, an embarrassment on every level for a franchise that had been beginning to believe it was something special. The coach getting angry doesn't make the Giants right for next Sunday, getting back to the fundamentals do.

What happened was simple: These Giants started to believe what they were hearing and reading. Suddenly, they were the far and away favorites in the NFC East. They were Super Bowl contenders. The Manning brothers in the Motor City.

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"A lot of the young guys can't handle it," Tiki Barber said.

And probably some of the older guys, too.

There promises to be a week of stories out of Giants camp detailing the nasty disposition of Coughlin. Nine penalties and five turnovers had Coughlin's head threatening to explode Sunday, a loss that brings the Giants back to the NFC East, and back to earth.

Adrian Wojnarowski

The Record (Bergen Cty., N.J.)

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