After squandering fourth-quarter deficits – many of the double-digit variety – for much of the season, the New York Giants finally closed out a game Monday in Miami.
With the score tied at 24 entering the fourth quarter, Eli Manning found Odell Beckham Jr. for an 84-yard touchdown to win the game, 31-24. The defense, meanwhile, held Miami scoreless for the last 24+ minutes of action.
What was different about this week and this fourth quarter?
“Well, it’s a good question because they did all the things they haven’t been able to do – and it’s really on both sides of the ball,” New York Daily News columnist Ralph Vacchiano said CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The defense came up with the stops that they needed, and the offense was able to get the first downs that they needed. It’s something that Tom Coughlin has emphasized for what seems like months with this team. When the game’s on the line, somebody’s got to step up and make the play and you can probably count a dozen guys who did that tonight.”
That includes Eli Manning, who was an almost-flawless 27-of-31 for 337 yards and four touchdowns. He also gave a speech – two, in fact – that may have helped the Giants stay focused on the task at hand.
“He basically said all the things that Tom Coughlin has been saying about how this is the time of year where you need to step up and make a play,” Vacchiano explained. “Stop waiting for things to happen. He encouraged them to not be afraid of their situation, to embrace it, that big players come through in big spots, and (that) he believed in his team. It’s nothing earth-shattering. It’s nothing that hadn’t been said before. But when Eli Manning says it, he carries a certain respect in that room. When your 69-year-old coach is saying it day after day after day, after awhile it’s like white noise in the background. But Eli Manning can stand up there and say, ‘Look, I’ve done this before. This team was dead in 2007 and dead in 2011, and we came back and won Super Bowls by doing these types of things, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it now.’ I think it really got their attention, and apparently he reiterated it before the game and reiterated it at halftime. He’s really becoming a leader of this team.”
The Giants (6-7) are now tied with Washington and Philadelphia atop the NFC East. They close against the Panthers (13-0), at Minnesota (8-5) and against the Eagles (6-7).
Despite losing six games by a combined 18 points, the Giants clearly haven’t even up on their season and are still playing hard for Coughlin. Still, they probably need to at least make the playoffs if they want Coughlin to stick around.
Vacchiano was asked just how secure Coughlin’s job is.
“Not very,” Vacchiano said. “I think it probably comes down to whether they make the playoffs and how the season finishes. If they don’t make the playoffs, it’ll be four straight years and it’ll be very difficult for ownership to keep him. It’ll be a situation sort of crying out for change. I don’t think it’s a lock that they’re going to fire him in that situation. But I think it’s in his best interest to find a way to get into the playoffs. Otherwise, all bets are off.”