Coughlin all smiles as Giants prepare to face Bills Print
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Thursday, 20 December 2007 12:51
NFL Headline News

 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -This must be a big game for the New York Giants because Tom Coughlin is taking what can be considered the drastic measure of trying out a new look.
Less frowns. More smiles.
That's the approach the coach with the sourpuss public persona wants out of his team and himself as the Giants (9-5), a win from clinching a playoff berth, travel to play the Bills on Sunday.
``I told the players that I wanted to see more smiles,'' Coughlin said. ``I got tired of looking at myself, the ugly picture that it presents. I got tired of looking at the frown. So we've got to move on.''
A win and they're in. And a loss means yet another week of questions whether the Giants, 3-3 in their past six, are unraveling down the stretch. They did that last season, losing six of seven before clinching a playoff berth on the final weekend with a win at Washington.
The Giants better not procrastinate this year, because they could face a must-win finale yet again, and this time against the New England Patriots, who could be playing for a shot at completing their historic run at a perfect record.
``It doesn't shake us, but it adds pressure,'' receiver Amani Toomer said. ``You don't want to get to that backs-against-the-wall thing.''
There's also a big reason the Giants can't afford to overlook the lame-duck Bills.
Buffalo (7-7) might have been eliminated from playoff contention with an 8-0 loss at Cleveland last weekend. But it's a team that suddenly could have inspiration on its side with the possibility of Kevin Everett attending the game 3 1/2 months after the tight end sustained a severe spinal cord injury in Buffalo's season opener.
Everett's travel plans were uncertain, but the mere prospect of him attending the game was enough to boost the Bills' mood.
``I think everybody would have chills,'' punter Brian Moorman said. ``To have him in the house would be quite an inspiration. To know he's there and rooting us on ... would be a great feeling.''
Everett is already the NFL's feel-good story of the season, the player enjoying a remarkable recovery after doctors initially feared he'd never walk again after arriving at a Buffalo hospital paralyzed from the neck down. Everett is now walking on his own and attending rehab as an outpatient at a Houston facility.
``It turned out to be a miracle story,'' said receiver Roscoe Parrish, who also played with Everett in college at Miami.
A win would certainly give the Bills something to cheer about, even though they'll now miss the playoffs for an eighth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history.
Buffalo, which closes at Philadelphia next weekend, has a chance to finish with a winning record for only the second time this decade. It would provide a young core additional confidence going into next year.
``We don't really care about being a spoiler. We just want to build around here,'' safety Donte Whitner said. ``Right now, we're getting a sense of who we are and what we can do.''
The Giants are attempting to qualify for the playoffs for a third-straight season, matching their best run, and mark the first time that's happened since 1984-86. New York does control its fate, currently sitting a win ahead of Minnesota and two up on both New Orleans and Washington for the NFC's final two playoff spots.
``No, we don't have any room for error,'' running back Brandon Jacobs said. ``We have all the error we could possibly have in the last couple of weeks. And if we keep playing ball with the errors like we have, it gets you beat.''
Jacobs was referring to a suddenly sputtering Eli Manning-led offense that will be further hampered without star tight end Jeremy Shockey, who's out after breaking his leg last weekend.
The Giants have not scored more than 21 points in any of their past seven games. And they're coming off an outing in which Manning inexplicably attempted 52 passes - he completed only 18 - in extremely windy conditions, and despite Jacobs getting 130 yards rushing.
Sounds like the same one-dimensional, pass-happy approach Giants coordinator Kevin Gilbride was faulted for during his two-year stint running the Bills' offense earlier this decade.
Manning is maintaining his perspective, knowing how things can get blown out of proportion in the Big Apple.
``Everyone around here makes it seem like we have a losing record,'' Manning said. ``It's a new day. You've got to have fun doing this. And we're not in a bad situation.''
Manning spoke by phone, so it was difficult to tell whether he said that - upon Coughlin's advice - with a smile.
 

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