EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
Tom Coughlin was blunt with the New York Giants in laying out his message for this week’s game with the Cleveland Browns.
Don’t be fooled by their 0-4 record, and the fact they have lost 10 straight regular-season games since beating Jacksonville on Nov. 20.
This is a young team has that has played hard every game. It hasn’t lost by more than 10 points and it would have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season had rookie linebacker L.J. Fort not dropped a pass by Michael Vick one play before the Eagles quarterback threw the winning touchdown with 1:18 to play.
The mention of the Eagles should get the attention of the Giants (2-2). Philadelphia beat New York Sunday night and it has owned the Giants in recent years.
If all that didn’t impress the Giants, Coughlin had one other thought he shared with his veterans. Just remember the last time they played the Browns: in 2008 and New York was again the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Giants went into Cleveland that season undefeated and got waxed. It would be their only loss in the first 12 games of ‘08.
“We better treat them like they are 4-0,” said Victor Cruz, who goes into this weekend leading NFL receivers with 32 catches. “We just want to go in and understand this is a must-win game for us and we just want to prepare accordingly. We want to prepare for a football game and not go in there, and just because we are the Giants, they are going to lay down for us. We have to be prepared and ready to go.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur believes his team is close to reaching a higher level — or at least getting a victory.
“I think I have a group of guys here, they fight they’re tails off and they respond to what I, and the coaches, tell them,” he said. “They’re just as determined as anybody to get a victory. I think once we have the taste of that, more will come. I think what’s important is you focus on the process of winning and we all know that it’s very difficult, and a good example is the Giants-Eagles (game). It’s hard to win a game in this league.”
Shurmur doesn’t believe in moral victories. A loss is a loss to him.
“I understand what our record is,” Shurmur said. “I understand what this team has and the character that we have. We’re going to continue to keep fighting. What’s important is that we amp up our effort even more, and each guy feels the pressure to make one or two plays better than the week before. That’s the message here.”
The Browns have some weapons. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has thrown for 300-plus yards in two of the last three games and rookie running back Trent Richardson has run for a touchdown in three straight games.
Wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin will miss the game because of hamstring injuries.