Justin Tuck called it a funny year. He and his New York Giants teammates weren't laughing.
There will be no repeat championship for the Giants, not even a play-off berth. A 9-7 season wasn't good enough.
New York's play-off hopes ended minutes after a 42-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles when Chicago beat Detroit 26-24.
"It happens that way," Tuck said after the Giants rebounded from two bad losses in what might have been Andy Reid's final game as Eagles 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."
"We are certainly disappointed we are not in the play-offs," coach Tom Coughlin said after New York missed the post-season 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 play-offs, and finished the season with six straight wins in earning their second NFL title in five seasons.
This marks the seventh straight season the Super Bowl champions have failed to win a play-off game the following year. 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," said Manning, who finished 13 of 21 for 208 yards and no interceptions. "Each year you want to make the play-offs 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."
"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."