While the Giants had many tough losses in 2012, none was worse than the defeat in Philadelphia in Week 4.
Your memory probably doesn't need to be refreshed about the details of this contest, but I'll set the stage just in case. The Giants were trailing the Eagles 19-17 with 25 seconds left in the game. They were already in position for a 44-yard game-winning field goal when they ran a play on 2nd-and-9 from Philadelphia's 26-yard line.
That play was a deep pass to Ramses Barden along the right sideline near the end zone. In an effort to prevent Nnamdi Asomugha from intercepting Eli Manning's errant heave, Barden interfered with the Eagles cornerback by wrapping his arms around him.
The penalty cost the Giants 10 yards, and one incomplete pass play later Lawrence Tynes came up about one yard short on a 54-yard field goal.
Coughlin admitted after the game that the Giants should have been more conservative on that ill-fated play to Barden, as shown in the below quote, courtesy of Bettor.com:
I take full responsibility for that. And as I told the players, I will start the meeting off by talking about my sins, and that's one that I will confess to ... We had the game in our possession, we were in field-goal range and we didn't get it done. All of those things, put the blame right here, it is right where it should be. The game was in hand, we let it get out of hand.
Coughlin deserves credit for admitting his mistake, but it doesn't change the fact that it was a horrible decision. While a 44-yard field goal is not a sure thing, it is certainly very makeable for a kicker of Tynes' caliber.
In addition, while they didn't have any timeouts left, the Giants could have run the ball or thrown a safe, quick pass to gain five yards with 25 seconds left and still had time to spike the ball. To put yourself in a situation to lose the game on a penalty or interception, which probably would have happened if Barden hadn't interfered, makes no sense.
It is hard to change that Eagles loss to a win and then play out the final 12 games exactly as they happened. If you do, though, New York would have made the playoffs at 10-6, beating out both the Bears and Vikings based on a better conference record.