EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Two games into the season, and things are looking bleak for Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants.
The 0-2 start is the team's worst in 11 years. The defense has been blowing assignments, missing tackles and surrendering an average of 40 points under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
``We are going to lose more games playing that way,'' linebacker Kawika Mitchell said Monday in a near-empty locker room.
The last time the Giants started 0-2 was 1996. They finished 6-10 and Dan Reeves was fired as coach.
The last time they gave up 80 points in the first two games was 1966, a season in which they gave up a franchise-record 501 points in 14 games. They finished 1-12-1 under Allie Sherman.
``Obviously we have to win a game,'' said Coughlin, who might need a big year to keep his job. ``We have to win. I think some of what we are going through may be a confidence thing. You have to earn it.''
The Giants came into the season on shaky footing despite making the playoffs the last two years. They lost seven of their last nine to end a turbulent 2006 season, which was plagued by injuries and infighting caused by speculation about Tiki Barber's retirement and the poor play at the end. New York was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
Now the Giants are playing poorly again.
``Anybody in the NFL who is 0-2 is desperate for a win,'' center Shaun O'Hara said. ``That's why we play the game, to win games. Certainly no one wants to start the season 0-2. But that's where we are and we have to deal with it. We have no one to blame but ourselves.''
New York was in the game in the first half in its 45-35 loss to Dallas in the season opener and the 35-13 loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. Both times, the defense disappeared after the break.
Brett Favre completed 14 straight passes to start the second half and led Green Bay on three consecutive touchdown drives, the last set up by a fumble on a kickoff return.
``We are just giving up too many plays,'' Mitchell said. ``We played second down well, and third down we can't get off the field. You can't win games if you don't get off the field.''
The defensive mistakes run the gamut. There has been almost no pressure on the quarterback. The Giants have struggled to cover the short underneath passes, and they've given up the occasional long run.
Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, who missed all of training camp, has had three tackles and no sacks in two games.
Opposing tight ends have caught 14 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns.
``The frustrating part of it is that we don't feel like we are ever getting dominated,'' linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. ``It's just big plays at crucial times and missed tackles. Mistakes like those just have to be cleaned up. We can't be scared to make mistakes. Everybody has to rally, come together and come to the ball.''
While the offense has been impressive at times, it, too, has made mistakes. Eli Manning and company had to settle for three field goal attempts Sunday after getting the ball in close. Two of those drives featured foolish mistakes by veterans.
Jeremy Shockey had a first-down pass nullified inside the Packers 20-yard line because he spiked the ball after a catch. Amani Toomer pushed the Giants back 15 yards when they were inside the 10 because of a taunting penalty.
``Morale is fine,'' Manning said. ``We understand we are making mistakes and stopping ourselves and not doing everything out there that we can do to win games. That's what we have to fix.''
With all the gloom, a Giants win against the Redskins would give New York a 1-2 record, the same mark it had after three games last season. The Giants finished the first half at 6-2.
``We need to get this thing corrected right now,'' guard Rich Seubert said. ``This will be a tough test for us this weekend. They have a good ballclub, but it's Washington-Giants. It will be a physical test. We have our backs to the wall and we have to come out smoking.''
Coughlin refused to discuss specific lineup changes but he mentioned cornerback Aaron Ross at least three times Monday. The first-round draft pick played well against the Packers in the first half. He was sidelined in the second half by cramps.

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