Wide receiver Sterling Shepard is a larger target without injured teammate Odell Beckham Jr. running plays. That responsibility transferred off the field as the 24-year-old served as a mouthpiece for the Giants' expectations heading into Week 16.
On Monday, head coach Pat Shurmur said playing through adversity, something the Giants (5-9) are familiar with after being exempt from playoff contention in back-to-back seasons, is necessarily to establish a winning culture.
Shepard echoed his coach's sentiments by placing importance on attaining a certain desire to win every game.
"Just come out with a W for the last two [games]," Shepard said on what he'd like to accomplish. "It would give us a lot of momentum going into the next season. It would be huge for the team."
After outscoring the Redskins 40-16 in Week 14, the Giants plunged and got shutout by the Titans a week later. Shepard held it down without OBJ in Washington with two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown, ultimately earning the game ball. Then, the third-year wideout caught two of nine targets and collected 37 yards during Sunday's 17-0 loss to Tennessee.
Struggling mightily with consistency, it's easy to see how Shepard and Big Blue's spirits may be down. Since many believe Eli Manning's journey with the Giants will amble into next year and beyond, the Giants are expected to start next season with the same team they're ending the year with. In order for that squad to begin on the right foot, Shepard said the result of New York's final two games weigh heavy.
"I feel like if you get that feeling of winning, and you keep on getting it, then it's going to become natural and it's going to become a habit," Shepard said. "So I think that's what we're chasing for and, like I said, that's what these last two games will do for us."
In Week 16, Shepard and New York's receiving corps are set to face a Colts (8-6) defense that did not let a single Cowboys pass catcher exceed 45 receiving yards in its last time out. Big Blue ends the season hosting Dallas (8-6), a team that's eager to fix its defensive miscues after falling flat against Indianapolis.
These last two games are not expected be a walk in the park for the Giants. And when it's all said and done, Shepard wants to forget about it.
"After it's over with, it's over with. I think that's a big thing, you move on," Shepard said. "After some of the things that have happened to us, we fought through a lot of adversity. It's been a roller coaster. So when it's over with, we'll put it behind us and move on."