There will be no repeat championship for the Giants, not even a playoff berth. A 9-7 season wasn't good enough this time around.
"It happens that way," Tuck said after the Giants rebounded from two bad losses and routed the Eagles in what might have been Andy Reid's final game at coach. "I've been 10-6 and not made the playoffs. You've got to win the ones you're supposed to. That's why the division games mean so much. If we'd won the division games, we'd still be in the driver's seat."
Instead, they are headed home early.
"We are certainly disappointed we are not in the playoffs," coach Tom Coughlin said after New York missed the postseason for the third time in four years. "Our goal was certainly to be there. Our goal was to win the division. We didn't do that either. We won nine games and there is no way anyone can talk us out of that. We do have the nine wins, but it's not good enough."
A year ago it was. The Giants won their last two games in 2011 to get into the playoffs, and finished the season with six wins in a row to earn their second NFL title in five seasons.
This marks the seventh consecutive season the Super Bowl champion has failed to win a playoff game the following year.
Moments after finishing his worst season with the Eagles (4-12), Reid said he would like to return for the final year of a contract that will pay him $6 million next year. Reid expects to meet with owner Jeffrey Lurie on Monday.
"I've been doing it a long time. I have respect for Jeff Lurie. I go in eyes wide open," Reid said. "Either way, I understand. Whatever he chooses will be the right thing. He always does things for the best interests of the Eagles."
Eli Manning did his part to keep the Giants in the chase with a career-best five touchdown passes. Fans who stuck around were chanting "Let's Go Lions" as the final moments ticked off in the Chicago-Detroit game.
"It hurts," Manning said, who finished 13-of-21 passing for 208 yards and no interceptions. "Each year you want to make the playoffs to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship; 9-7 last year was good enough. It wasn't good enough this year and we knew it wouldn't be."
After going 6-2, they lost five of eight, including two games by a combined 67-14 to playoff-bound Atlanta and Baltimore.
"The first thing is you don't ever rely on anybody else in this business," Coughlin said. "You've got to take care of your own business. We certainly had our chances. That will be the No. 1 thing I'll talk to the team about."
Manning woke up the offense with touchdown passes of 3 and 38 yards to rookie Rueben Randle, a 15-yarder to David Wilson and a 24-yarder to Victor Cruz just before halftime for a 35-7 lead. He's the first Giant to throw five TD passes in a game since Phil Simms in 1980. His fifth score was a 1-yard pass to fullback Henry Hynoski in the fourth quarter.
Ahmad Bradshaw, who rushed for 107 yards and passed the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career, also scored on a 1-yard run.
Starting for the first time since a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys in early November, Michael Vick threw a 7-yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin. Vick finished 19-of-35 passing for 197 yards and one interception before being replaced by Trent Edwards.
The Eagles had hoped to send Reid out on a positive note, but they played poorly.
"We came, we stunk it up and we lost," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "It was terrible. No heart."
Vick, replacing injured rookie Nick Foles, was also reluctant to discuss his future, but he felt for Reid, who gave him a second chance after he got out of prison.
"He's a great man and I love him to death," Vick said. "I wish I could've done more. A lot of players wish they could've done more. Coaches can't play the games."
The Eagles surprised the Giants on a cold and windy day with an onside kick to open the game. However, turnovers have hurt the Eagles all season, and it happened again when Stevie Brown came up with his eighth interception.
Manning needed four plays, finding Randle over the middle for his second touchdown of his rookie season. His third came on the following series when the Giants went 74 yards in five plays.
The third touchdown was another pass to a rookie, with Wilson catching a 15-yarder, then doing his usual back flip to celebrate.
NOTES: About 400 residents of Newtown, Conn., attended the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles game Sunday. Among them were a few families who lost children in the massacre this month, the Giants said. One was the family of Jack Pinto, the 6-year-old boy buried in a No. 80 jersey of Giants receiver Victor Cruz. ... Bradshaw finished with 1,015 yards rushing. ...Manning fell 52 yards shy of his fourth consecutive 4,000 yard passing season. ...Brown's 48-yard return gave him 307 yards in interception returns this season, extending his Giants' single-season record. ... Eagles safety Colt Anderson led them with 10 tackles.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press