EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was screaming in the post-game locker room, celebrating his players for a "Great team win." Then he called Eli Manning to the center of the room to gather his teammates around him. Even his excitement bubbled over.
"Enjoy it," Manning yelled in a video the Giants posted after their 12-9 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs. "Feel good about it. We deserve this win. We deserve to feel this good."
Yes they do, after enduring a season of misery, controversy and questions about their heart. And after two weeks of questionable efforts, they "flipped the script" to quote one of McAdoo's favorite clichés. They fought and scratched and clawed their way to a win no one expected them to have.
It wasn't pretty. The defense definitely benefitted from a surprisingly sloppy Chiefs performance. And the Giants' offense, for the most part, was its usual, ineffective self. But all their flaws don't seem as bad when they're the ones with more points on the scoreboard. So enjoy it. And don't worry about the reality of the situation.
For one week, let the Giants have their fun.
Here are a few thoughts on the big win and an unusually happy recap of the Giants overtime squeaker. (And if it's not as joyous as it should be … well, give me a break. It's been a while. I'm out of practice on happy thoughts.):
- Cornerback Janoris Jenkins swears he didn't quit last week. (OK. Whatever.) But he responded on the field. He had a really strong game, and several teammates said it was his best "effort" of the season. He made several tough tackles and had two key, late-game interceptions (although one was called back due to what appeared to be a questionable pass interference call). He wasn't the only one called out in McAdoo's notorious Wednesday, full-team film session, but his "highlights" were a significant part of the show. He apparently got the message.
- The Chiefs were a top five offense, averaging more than 28 points per game, so as sloppy as they appeared to be, don't sell the Giants' defense short. Keeping the Chiefs out of the end zone was impressive. And look what they did to their three biggest weapons. Running back Kareem Hunt had a pedestrian 18 carries for 73 yards. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had seven catches for 68 yards, including a 38-yard catch and nothing much on the other plays. And tight end Travis Kelce had eight catches for 109 yards, 32 of which came on the game-tying field goal drive when Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon somehow ended up in coverage. (Linebacker Jonathan Casillas explained the Giants were caught in a blitz with a bad matchup and the blitz never reached QB Alex Smith.) They also kept Kelce out of the end zone, ending the Giants' NFL-record streak of allowing a touchdown to an opposing tight end in 10 straight games.
- McAdoo emptied his playbook and his bag of tricks on the Giants' opening drive in an obvious attempt to try and spark something in his sluggish team. He called for a fake punt that worked. He ran a play with a three-man line and his tackles split out wide. And then he ran a halfback option pass. (OK, the last one went terribly wrong with Shane Vereen getting picked off as he tried to hit a seemingly open Evan Engram in the end zone.) And it's fair to wonder if McAdoo got too cute and cost his team a touchdown (or at least points) with a high-risk play. But as little as the Giants have been scoring this season, it seemed to be worth a try. After all, with a 1-8 team coming in, what did he really have to lose?
- I had no problem with McAdoo trying the aforementioned halfback option. But my goodness, what was Andy Reid thinking trying a trick play with Kelce taking a pass from Smith and then throwing way down field (for a Landon Collins interception) with 6:36 left in a game and the Chiefs losing 9-6? Why is it different than what the Giants did? For many reasons, including the Giants' season is already lost and McAdoo tried his trickery early. The Chiefs are a playoff contender that had been slumping and couldn't afford a stupid mistake like that, especially late in the game. Reid has incredibly talented skill players. He essentially took the ball out of their hands in a key spot to try and out-smart his opponent. Bad coaching.
- At first glance, rookie Chad Wheeler seemed to hold his own at right tackle, which wasn't easy against LB Justin Houston. Manning wasn't sacked and there weren't a lot of close calls from Wheeler's end anyway. Overall, the line is better than it was early in the season, but the pocket still collapses awfully fast around Manning. Meanwhile, Ereck Flowers continues to get manhandled at times. Yes, he's improved and I know some people -- and some websites -- insist he doesn't surrender pressures anymore. He absolutely does, and he too often gets shoved straight into the backfield by his defender. His run blocking is also weak. But yes, he is still better than he was in, say, Week 2 or 3.
- Boy, did rookie kicker Aldrick Rosas need that 23-yard game-winner in overtime. The Giants have been concerned enough about him that they brought in a couple of kickers to work out last week. They like him enough that it's doubtful they were going to dump him in the middle of a lost season, but they certainly had some reason to do it after he had missed at least one field goal in five of the last six games (he didn't attempt a field goal in the other one). Sure, the wind probably carried his extra point astray in the second quarter, but he didn't appear to hit it well, either. How much faith do the Giants still have in him? It's hard to say. They passed on a 53-yarder in overtime, but it was the right call with any kicker on a windy day. McAdoo did say they likely weren't going to try another extra point in the end where Rosas had missed; they'd likely have gone for two instead. Maybe that's a better indication.
- OK, one reality check: The Giants' offense had 317 yards against the NFL's third-worst defense. The Chiefs passing defense ranks 28th and the Giants had only 229 passing yards. The Chiefs run defense ranks 29th and the Giants only totaled 112 rushing yards (on 3.5 yards per carry). It was not a bad performance, considering they were again without Sterling Shepard (and still without Odell Beckham Jr.) and it was a very windy day. But the Giants' offense remains a very big mess.