Eli Manning is better known for leading by example, for his quiet under pressure, and his calm in every storm.
Every once in a while, though, he raises his voice when he feels it's necessary. That's what he did on Sunday. And his teammates responded to what they heard.
"Pregame, he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up," running back Orleans Darkwa said on a conference call on Monday, one day after the Giants' 12-9 upset of the Kansas City Chiefs. "To have a guy like that who's been through so much, that's got those two Super Bowl rings, we follow him. We follow his footsteps in everything. So to have him come up there, it shows the weight that he carries on the team."
There has been a lot of weight on the shoulders of the 36-year-old Manning -- whom Darkwa called "the heartbeat of our team" -- as another season has slipped away without a playoff run. Not only are the Giants 2-8, due in part to the loss of two of Manning's top receivers - Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall - but Manning has struggled at times, the Giants' offense has sputtered badly, and there have even been calls for Manning to be pushed aside so the Giants can get a look at rookie quarterback Davis Webb.
But as he made his 209th consecutive start on Sunday, breaking a tie with his brother Peyton for second all-time among NFL quarterbacks (behind Brett Favre), Manning clearly felt the pressure, or at least a sense of urgency. He decided words -- not just actions -- were needed to help drag his Giants to a win.
"He talks to us a lot," Darkwa said. "But the difference yesterday is you could sense the fire in his voice."
Manning's words spoke louder than his play. He was only 19 of 35 for 205 yards, and led the Giants to a touchdown and two field goals. But he did lead them on a 10-play, 77-yard march for the game-winning field goal on their only drive of overtime.
Manning wasn't the only person to deliver a speech, either. Ben McAdoo had words for his players on last Wednesday morning in his now infamous, "brutally honest" team meeting where he showed clips to the entire team of some terrible individual plays. That was followed by a defense-only, players-only meeting in which several players, including linebacker Jonathan Casillas and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie spoke up.
Even rookie tight end Evan Engram tried to spark the Giants with a passionate speech days before the game, too.
None of their words, though, carry the power of what Manning can deliver - even though he doesn't usually deliver passionate words to his teammates at all.
"At the end of the day, Eli is going to be Eli," Darkwa said. "He shouldn't change the way he commands the room. He shouldn't change the way he talks to us. That's just how he is. That's how he leads us. And if the Super Bowl rings don't hold any weight, then I don't know what else should. You got to be able to follow a guy like that and listen to what he says."