Nerves fraying as teams enter home stretch of playoff races

Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:57pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With two weeks left in the National Football League's (NFL) competitive regular season, many teams are starting to show frayed nerves - particularly in the NFC East.

A pair of two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches let off steam following conference defeats on Sunday.

Beleaguered Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan walked out of his news conference and New York Giants helmsman Tom Coughlin called his offense "pathetic" and questioned the effort of some of his players.

Frustration on losing teams like the Redskins (3-11), who fell 27-26 to the Atlanta Falcons, and New York Giants (5-9), 23-0 losers to the NFL-best Seattle Seahawks, is hardly a surprise as the days dwindle down.

But the Dallas Cowboys need to regroup in a hurry after their stunning 37-36 home loss to the Green Bay Packers because their playoff future still rests in their own hands despite dropping to 7-7.

"This is one of the hardest losses that I've experienced," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team led 26-3 at halftime. "That's a shame that we've lost that ballgame."

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown, agreed but brought some shame on himself by walking off the field with 1:21 left in the game.

"I was wrong," Bryant told reporters on Monday during a visit to a children's hospital. "I couldn't watch Green Bay kneel the ball down on the field after a tough loss like that.   Continued...

Dec 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the first half against the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome. Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports