The Giants defeated the Chiefs 12-9 in overtime Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – They were without Sterling Shepard, who merely caught 11 passes last week in San Francisco, but was inactive because of migraine headaches.
They didn't have cornerback Eli Apple, who had played in every game with seven starts, inactive due to a coach's decision.
Justin Pugh, arguably their best offensive lineman, didn't suit up because of a back injury.
B.J. Goodson, who would be their starting middle linebacker, was out of uniform again because of a lingering ankle injury.
And then there are the long-term injuries that forced the Giants to play again Sunday without Odell Beckham, Jr., Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, Weston Richburg and Mark Herzlich.
"We were short-handed today, but that's no excuse," coach Ben McAdoo said. "We have enough talented players to go out there and play well."
They proved that with perhaps their most impressive performance of the season in a 12-9 overtime victory in windy MetLife Stadium against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs. Aldrick Rosas' 23-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in overtime accounted for the game-winning points and capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive.
The Giants ended their three-game losing streak and improved to 2-8, while the Chiefs fell to 6-4, after starting 5-0.
"It feels good," said quarterback Eli Manning, whose streak of 209 consecutive regular-season starts is now the second-longest by a quarterback in NFL history. "The great part about football is having a great week of preparation and then going out on Sunday and finding ways to win games and celebrating with your teammates and feeling good about the work, and the preparation and dedication and doing everything the right way and earning that win. We've been doing the work. We haven't been playing as well on Sundays. Haven't been able to finish games and play games well into the fourth quarter and just haven't been able to close it out. Today, great team effort with everybody coming together in the fourth quarter and getting this win."
Actually, for the fourth time this season, the Giants let a fourth-quarter lead slip away, and this time they did it twice. Field goals of 31 and 23 yards by Kansas City' Harrison Butker tied the score at 6-6 and at 9-9, the latter with just one second remaining in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs seemed to own the momentum when they won the overtime coin toss.
But the Giants' defense, which did not give up a touchdown to the team that was No. 5 in the NFL in scoring (28.1 points a game), rose up again and forced a punt.
"I think the defense – they came out and they played inspired football," McAdoo said. "They played tremendous football. They leaned on each other. They challenged each other. They played their techniques well. They played fast. They played aggressive. You know, we missed some tackles today, but the second, the third and the fourth guy were to the ball pretty fast. So, that's a big part of it."
The Giants took possession at their own 18. After picking up three first downs, they faced a fourth-and-five at the Kansas City 36-yard line with 2:12 remaining. McAdoo elected to not have Rosas try a 53 or 54-yard field goal. "The wind played a factor," McAdoo said.
Manning instead went for the big play, throwing deep down the left sideline for Roger Lewis, Jr., who drew a pass interference penalty from cornerback Phillip Gaines at the two-yard line. But Lewis also caught the ball and appeared to score a touchdown. But the officials ruled he was down by contact after a 34-yard gain (the Giants declined the penalty).
"It looked to me like he scored," McAdoo said. "Looked to me like it was a touchdown."
"I thought I (scored)," Lewis said. "But all I want to do is have 10 (Manning) trust me and I can do some things. … I want to make plays, I want to be able to have 10 trust me. Everybody was down - 13 (Beckham), 15 (Marshall), 17 (Harris), 87 (Shepard). Nobody believed in us, but it's that time."
After Manning lost three yards while kneeling down in the center of the field, Rosas came on to kick the first game-winner of his young career. It was particularly sweet, because he had missed a field goal attempt in each of the previous four games, plus an extra point try in the second quarter on Sunday.
"At the end of the day, I didn't get a perfect day in," Rosas said. "You know, I'm still going to go back and look at the film, and what we could've done and kind of what went wrong. But I wouldn't say redeeming, but I would say that I was there to be accountable, to be someone to call on to do their job, and helped the team win. It was a great team win today."
The Giants had numerous key contributors. Wide receivers Lewis, Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph, and Kalif Raymond (in his Giants debut) combined for 10 catches. Orleans Darkwa ran for 70 yards and scored the game's only touchdown, on a one-yard run. Rookie free agent Chad Wheeler, who was inactive or did not play in five of the first nine games, started for Pugh at right tackle and played the entire game at right tackle. The offensive line did not allow a sack.
"I had a quiet game, but that's a good thing," Wheeler said. "It's a testament to Eli getting the ball out quickly and (guard) D.J. Fluker helping me. It wasn't just my effort. It was a team effort."
Defensively, safety Landon Collins led the Giants with a season-high 14 tackles (10 solo) and intercepted a pass that was thrown by tight end Travis Kelce. Rookie free agent linebacker Calvin Munson had 12 tackles (eight solo). Janoris Jenkins intercepted Alex Smith in the fourth quarter and returned the ball 17 yards to set up Rosas' first go-ahead field goal. Jenkins had another interception nullified by a dubious pass interference penalty. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison picked up his first career interception, thanks in part to Jason Pierre-Paul's hard hit on Kelce.
It was a far better game from a defense that had allowed 82 points and 947 yards in loss to the Rams and 49ers the previous two weeks.
"We just stayed together," Collins said. "We fought together; we knew what we had to come in here and do.
"(We had) a sense of urgency. All the guys were on the same page, we were consistent. We trusted in every call that the coaches made. We played fast and that was the best feeling."
The Giants don't have long to celebrate, because they play Thursday night in Washington.
But they will go there with the momentum of a strong outing against the Chiefs.
"Just a tremendous team win," McAdoo said. "Fought through a lot of adversity against a good football team."
Giants.com hands out game balls in the teams 12-9 victory at MetLife Stadium, Presented by Microsoft Surface