EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants are not only fading in this dismal season, tempers are getting short.
For the first time — at least publically — a rift could be developing between the struggling, mistake-prone offense and a defense that has been asked time and time again to keep the team in games.
The frustration boiled over Sunday after a 23-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Safety Antrel Rolle said some teammates lacked passion, heart and even a pulse, comments clearly directed toward the offense.
Tight end Brandon Myers later tweeted he was "cussed out" for telling people they played well and denied not being passionate.
"Am I surprised by it? No!" coach Tom Coughlin said of the rift Monday, a day after the Giants (5-9) were guaranteed their first losing season since 2004. "I was surprised by some of what was made of it. But we have an outstanding group of guys and they are competitive and it was a difficult loss in a frustrating year, to be honest with you, and so some of that came out.
"But today is a day of, as I put it, healing again, recognizing who we are."
For the record, the Giants are a team that has missed the playoffs four of the past five seasons. The offense that was supposed to carry the team has been pathetic. It gained 181 yards against the league's top-ranked defense. Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is having one of his worst seasons. He threw a career-high five interceptions Sunday, pushing his total to 25, tying his single-season high.
Rolle defended his comments Monday. All the defense wants is to see the offense as a whole show more fight and passion. He insisted that he was encouraging them to be better, not seeking to divide the team.
"I didn't say anything out of anger," said Rolle, who has been the Giants' best player with a career-high six interceptions and a team-best 84 tackles. "I said what I felt needed to be said."
Myers seemingly took it personally.
"If ppl on this team wanna take shots at me an say I have no passion they are mistaken," he tweeted after the game. "I give everything I have each an every week."