Opener a chance for Giants to end home woes

EAST RUTHERFORD, -- Looking at the New York Giants' Super Bowl rings a couple of things stand out besides the diamonds:

The team's three Super Bowl trophies. The "NY." The words "World Champions" and "Eleven Straight On The Road."

 Nowhere is there a mention of the team's record at home, and with good reason. The Giants stunk. They went 3-5 at Giants Stadium for the second straight year and still won the NFL title.

"That's crazy," place-kicker Lawrence Tynes said Tuesday, just two days before the team was to kick off the NFL season against the Washington Redskins in the unfriendly confines of you know where.

"It is usually not that way in the National Football League, but for whatever reason we just didn't get it done at home last year," Tynes said. "If you think about it, had we won some of those games we probably would have had home-field advantage for the playoffs. To get those types of things, we're going to have to win at home this year."

Winning at home has been one of the points coach Tom Coughlin has discussed with his team.

"Quite frankly, our fans deserve us to play better at home," he said.

Other than the post-Super Bowl celebration at Giants Stadium in February, the team's fans have had little to celebrate there recently. New York lost its last four home games in 2007, the second straight season to end with a four-game losing streak at home.

The Giants last home win was a 33-15 decision over the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 21.

"There is no reason, that is just how it was," middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "We just didn't finish games at home. That's what it comes down to. We didn't play well. We didn't play well in Buffalo for the first two quarters and came back and won. Here, we need to do that. We need to learn how to play 60 minutes of good football at home."

The problem is the Giants haven't been playing even 45 minutes of good football in recent home games.

Their best effort was in the regular-season finale against the Patriots, a 38-35 loss that might have shown the Giants that they could play with the best team in the league.

The other three home losses were not that close. Dallas was a 31-20 winner on Nov. 11. Minnesota won 41-17 on Nov. 25, and Washington had its way in a 22-10 win on Dec. 16.

Cornerback Sam Madison said there was a common theme in some of the losses: the wind kicked up and opponents stacked the box to limit the running game. It made the Giants somewhat one-dimensional.

Defensive tackle Barry Cofield had no answers for what went wrong at home.

"I can say what went right on the road," he said. "Guys had a singular focus. There were no distractions from family or driving around. You just got on the plane, went to the hotel and took the bus. Everyone was on the same plan, even eating the same food. I think that helped us out on the road."

Cofield says every player knows the importance of winning at home and everyone is determined to give the fans a good product this season.

"What happened the last year is uncommon, and we are not proud of that record," he said.

Center Shaun O'Hara smiled when asked about the record, since he has spent the entire training camp telling everyone last year is over and this year is new.

"We can't dwell on last year," O'Hara said. "If we were 8-0 at home last year, it would not guarantee us a win this year."

The Giants were 11-1 on the road last season, winning the final 11 after opening the season with a loss at Dallas. The road record included a win in London against Miami and the Super Bowl win in Glendale, Ariz. against the Patriots. They also won playoff games in Tampa, Dallas and Green Bay.

Notes: Tynes will miss the season opener with knee injury. John Carney, the 44-year-old kicker who was signed on Saturday, will take his place.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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