The New York Giants have a difficult road to the National Football League playoffs just two weeks into the season, as only 8.8 percent of 0-2 teams recovered to make the postseason in the past 11 years.
Under the NFL’s 12-team playoff format instituted in 1990, only 8 percent of postseason teams (22 of 276) started with an 0-2 record. Since the NFL’s divisional realignment in 2002, just eight of the 91 teams to lose their first two games of a season fought back to earn a playoff berth.
“In this situation you’ve got to have a little sense of urgency,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown seven interceptions in his team’s two losses. “If you make it a must-win, sometimes you need to be put in those situations.”
The Giants have been here before.
In 2007, they lost their first two games and then rallied behind Manning to make the postseason with a 10-6 record before winning three straight road playoff games and upsetting the 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The 2001 Patriots and 1993 Dallas Cowboys also started 0-2 before recovering to win Super Bowl titles.
This season, the Giants are among eight NFL teams to lose their first two games, along with the Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Giants, who have fewer yards rushing (73) than points allowed (77) in their first 0-2 start since 2007, next visit the Panthers on Sept. 22 in a matchup of winless clubs.
“I don’t think we’re playing with the excitement, the enthusiasm,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle told reporters yesterday. “What it looks like from the sideline, and outside looking in, it seems like sometimes we’re in it, sometimes we’re not. I don’t know the reason for that.”
The odds of a championship for this year’s 0-2 teams have dwindled considerably. The Giants have 40-1 odds to win the Super Bowl after entering the season at 25-1.
“It is a tough hole,” Las Vegas Hotel Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman said in an e-mail. “The only fortunate thing for the Giants and Redskins is the NFC East doesn’t look overwhelming early on.”
The Redskins have moved to 50-1 from 30-1, while the Vikings and Buccaneers have both gone to 200-1 from 60-1.
“It’s not the end of the world, there’s still a lot of football to be played,” said Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who a year ago helped Washington make the playoffs after a 3-6 start. “We’ve been in situations like this before and we know how to fight back out of it. That’s the good part of the guys in this locker room, we know we can.”
Over the past four years, none of the 30 teams to start a season 0-2 has reached the playoffs.
In 2008, three of the NFL’s 11 clubs that were winless two weeks into the season rallied to make the playoffs: the Vikings, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. They were the last 0-2 teams to reach the postseason.
“We know where we are,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, whose team is at home against the 0-2 Browns this week after two road losses. “It’s a long season. I’m not looking at what’s happening around the NFL other than what we’re doing. We need to get on track and get it going this week.”
Manning said he’s encouraged about the prospects of a turnaround because the other three teams in the National Football Conference’s East division are 1-1 or 0-2. Only one of the other seven divisions doesn’t have a team that’s 2-0.
“We have hope just because I feel like we’re doing some decent things,” said Manning, 32. “We’ve got to get better, but I think we will. The season is very early. We’ve got to play better football and find a way to get a win.”
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