With seemingly the entire country outside of the Giants’ locker room looking for avenues to end Eli Manning’s career in New York, the team rallied around their quarterback for Sunday’s upset overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The usually quiet Manning lit a fire under his squad on Sunday.
“In pregame he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up,” running back Orleans Darkwa said on a Monday conference call, via Newsday’s Tom Rock. “To have a guy like that who has been through so much, who has those two Super Bowl rings, we follow his footsteps in everything. To have him come up there, it shows the weight that he carries on this team. He’s definitely up for it, and everybody tries to follow in his footsteps because he’s been there, he’s done that, as far as reaching the Promised Land.”
The Giants certainly played with more purpose and vigor Sunday than they had in previous blowouts. The effort was evident on the field and flowed from Manning’s pregame speech.
“Eli is the heartbeat of our team,” Darkwa said.
Manning generally plays the quiet leader. He’s the little brother who speaks more through actions than words. He’s not usually the fire-up-the-troops guy and isn’t one to get in the face of a teammate or call someone out publicly. Eli is Eli.
When the man speaks with a purpose, however, his teammates fall in line.
“He talks to us a lot,” Darkwa said. “The difference yesterday was just you could sense the fire in his voice. But at the end of the day, Eli is going to be Eli. He shouldn’t change the way he commands a room, he shouldn’t change the way he talks to us. That’s just how he is. That’s how he leads us.”
Unfortunately for the 2-8 Giants, those fiery words came too late to save a lost season. Now Manning and his teammates are simply trying to save their jobs.
Ben McAdoo’s first trick play on Sunday was actually executed in the locker room.
The “fiery” pregame speech that Eli Manning gave before Sunday’s 12-9 win over the Chiefs may have “riled up” his teammates, but it wasn’t quite his idea.
Instead, it was another one of McAdoo’s motivational ploys as the head coach nudged Manning to address the team.
“Coach asked me to talk before the game so I did,” Manning said on Tuesday. “I can’t tell you what I said … but if he asks me to do it again I will, but he usually switches that up.”
It was uncharacteristic of Manning — a typically quiet, lead-by-example type player — to have some sort of Knute Rockne moment in Week 11 of a 2-8 season, but it seemed to work, despite being contrived by the head coach, and it certainly resonated with the team.
Of course, Manning and McAdoo downplayed the speech.
Added McAdoo: “He didn’t smash any grease boards or anything like that. But, it’s important to him. He got emotional. He was excited to play. He’s still excited to play for the number of starts that he’s had in his career, number of wins he’s had in his career and the number of fourth quarter comebacks that he’s had in his career.”
Motivational speeches or not, the Giants got a rare win and now look to carry it over on a short week when they face Washington on Thanksgiving night in prime time.
Washington is coming off a crushing loss — blowing a 24-13 lead to the New Orleans Saints — and is decimated with injuries, placing four players on the injured reserve on Tuesday while 18 others remain on the injury report.
The Giants, who are also banged up a bit, are hoping they can use the short week to their advantage.
“I think when you have a short week, it can be easier after a win,” Manning said. “Guys come in here on Monday with a little energy already, whereas you come in after a loss and it can be tough to get everything going and be excited about the opportunities.”
Safety Landon Collins said that there is an urgency of sorts to get back on the field to showcase that Sunday’s performance was no fluke.
“I mean, when you look at it and you just kind of got a win and the hype behind you – and not that there’s real hype – but behind each other, it’s a good feeling that we can do this again,” Collins said. “We want to showcase it right then and there and we got the opportunity to do so.”
The defense was particularly impressive against the Chiefs, playing more like the team everybody expected at the beginning of the season, forcing three turnovers and holding one of the best offenses in the league to just 12 points.
“We have the mindset, the ability, a lot of healthy guys back,” Collins said. “So yeah, we definitely got that momentum we got back.”