*The Giants meet the media following Sunday's matchup with the Cowboys: *
Interim Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
*Opening Statement: *I'm disappointed in the outcome of the game. The only real injury I have to report is – you saw Landon (Collins). I don't really know exactly what it is. I know it was an ankle. I haven't had a chance to talk will him, but we'll find out about that tomorrow. I would just say this before I open it up – I'm really proud of the men in that locker room. I told them that. After all we went through this week, I thought the way we came out and the way we played for three and a half quarters was something we could be proud of. We do have to figure out a way in the fourth quarter when it gets down to gut wrenching time to make a play or two. Now, I'm going to put a little bit of that on me. I didn't like a couple calls I had in the fourth quarter that resulted in bad plays for us defensively. I don't want that to be on the players. I just talked about, going forward, if they could continue to do what we did this week in the middle of some adversity – I thought the adversity revealed a lot of good things in our football team. I do believe that unity strengthens and I saw unity and that's a sign of a stronger football team in my mind. I would hope that they would continue to do that going forward and then just focus on the next game. So, that was the message, those are the injuries and with that, I'll open it up.
Q: Did you call the defense like you normally do?
A: I did. Yeah. Nothing changed there and I'd like to credit the defensive coaches because it was a little bit different. The difference was that when the offense was out there and I was on the line with them just listening and trying to be ready to manage the game, the defensive coaches handled all the adjustments over there with just me chiming in and out, but I thought for the most part that part went pretty smooth.
Q: What did you think of the way Eli Manning responded to being back in the starting lineup?
A: Again, this is what happens to me. I'm not a really bright guy. So, in the course of the game, like plays – it's all kind of mixed right now together. But, I know there was one interception there. I'm sure it got bopped around and all, but I like the way offense – I'll tell you, the way I thought Mike Sullivan and his staff did a good job coming up with a good game plan. We moved the ball real well. If my recollection is correct, they drove pretty good the first drive, kicked a field goal. We got it and answered with our own long drive and kicked a field goal that got us right back into a 0-0 game, so to speak. So, I was proud of them in that regard and I know there were times during the game where he got us into some really good plays because I'm listening and I know I'm listening to Sully (Mike Sullivan) and that's what he does. He does that real well for us.
Q: How do you think Rhett Ellison responded to an increased role?
A: Yeah, I mean, without watching the tape, I certainly can't evaluate it blind. I saw him make a couple catches in there and then we kept him in the game a little bit for certain reasons, certain plays, and it looked like he played solid to me.
Q: You had a couple fourth downs in their territory. What went into the thought process of it?
A: I remember one early. I recall the one in the first half, I believe, because I heard the reaction. But, to me, it felt like it was going to be a field position game, which it really was right into the fourth quarter. When you kind of get that feeling, I wanted to stick with the field position game, back them up. Our defense was playing pretty good at that time. So, I thought it was the right decision. I don't recall the other one, to be honest with you, but maybe I can comment on that in the next couple days.
Q: They caught you in a couple blitzes. What should happen on those plays?
A: Well, I mean, a lot of things. I probably need to better – I got overanxious on one of them. I'll be honest. That's how I feel. Now, what you got to know about me is when the play doesn't go right, I always think that there could have been a better call. That's just how I am. Now, having said that, we know that whatever the call is, a guy is going to try to make a play, but there was one I would like to have back. The other ones we had, you know, there were a couple things we didn't do quite right that resulted in a bad finish for us, but we're going to have to dissect and go through it with the players. We can be better. We can – look, those plays shouldn't happen. Certainly not that long. We got to get them on the ground. I'm sure the guys feel bad about not tackling them in certain situations.
Q: Will Eli Manning start again next week?
A: I'm not going to comment. I don't know. I'm not going to comment on that right now. That would be my gut feeling. Look, without looking at it and evaluating, but Eli Manning is the quarterback right now.
Q: What was it like being out there in the head coaching role?
A: Look, it doesn't feel good right now because we lost the football game. So, your mind goes back to all the things you could have, should have, would have done. That's what happens when you lose. But, I didn't feel uncomfortable. I thought everybody else around me – coaches, players, trainers – responded really well and to me that's what I'm grateful for. I mean, I thought the guys on the sideline, they're operating an NFL football gamem doing what they were supposed to. Everybody did their job and for the most part, I thought we did pretty good.
Q: You went to check on Landon Collins after he got hurt. What was your message to him?
A: I just wanted to find out what was wrong with him. By then, he had popped up and I thought he was going to be okay, but obviously – listen, Landon, he never complains about injury. He's been banged up all year. I mean, little things. But, you never hear him complain. So, when he's down, I feel like it's something serious. That's why I went over there, but it was good to see him get up and we'll see where he is tomorrow.
Q: With 4:40 to go, did you consider going for it when you were down seven points on their 46-yard line?
A: One possession game. Now I recall. Because it was so – we talked about it going into the third down, but it ended up fourth and seven and not fourth and three or fourth and two. That was why we made that decision. One possession game.
Q: Where is Eli Apple at this point?
A: Yeah, Eli – I talked with Eli. We deactivated him today. The decision there was because he just didn't get enough reps during the week. I talked with him earlier. He's going to be ready to go next week and hopefully we're up and running.
Q: So, Eli Apple will play next week?
A: That's the hope. That's the hope.
Q: What have you seen from some of the new guys like Brandon Dixon and Darryl Morris and others in your secondary?
A: Yeah, I'll tell you what. Brandon Dixon, to me, has played really good football. Now, he's going to feel bad about the one play at the end of the half. But, he's battling out there. We got him late. Both those guys. They didn't go through any OTAs, they didn't go through any training camp and, yet, they've really been pros about everything and they compete. You can't ask for much more than that.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Q: Did you hear the crowd yelling your name on the first drive?
A: Yeah, I did. I thought we had a good crowd today and I appreciate all the support these past weeks and sorry we couldn't get them a better game today.
Q: What are your thoughts on Geno Smith's dad getting death threats?
A: I don't know anything about that. Obviously it's unfortunate if that's the case. I don't think that's what anybody wants.
Q: After this week's adversity, what does it mean to you to be back out there and to start?
A: That's where you want to be. That's where I want to be. I wanna go out, be there with my teammates, try to get a win, be there for the fans and do my part. Hopefully the coaches believe I gave us the best chance to win at quarterback. I thought we did some good things today; competed. Three and a half quarters right in the mix. We have to find ways to finish stronger in the second half and at the end of games.
Q: Are there things that you say to try to keep your receivers in there? You had a couple drops against you that killed some drives. Is there a conversation that you guys have after that?
A: Not a whole lot. I've got a lot of respect for our receivers. They work hard, they practice hard, they do everything we ask them to do. I understand, hey, drops are part of the game. They're running the right routes, hitting the right spots, have confidence they'll make the next one and make plays for us and a couple of them made some outstanding plays for us.
Q: The crowd reaction when you came on the field for the first time …
A: My focus is trying to get the play and figure out what the Cowboys are doing. I appreciate it. I appreciate all of the support the fans have given me for 14 years and these last weeks, especially. I appreciate them coming out today and cheering me on and cheering on the Giants.
Q: How do you think Rhett Ellison reacted to expanded opportunities today?
A: I thought Rhett did a good job and I thought he made some nice catches, did some good things, got the touchdown. Every time we've gotten him the ball, he's done a good job turning it up and getting yardage and making plays. The way they were playing, he had an opportunity to get the ball and made the most of it.
Q: On the pass to Engram, that long pass, was it an audible or what did you see in there?
A: Had a good call versus their blitz. Something we wanted to get to. Just the way they played that coverage in the blitz, we thought we could hit him in the corner and sure enough had that big play, so that was a good one.
Q: [INAUDIBLE] something about a hand signal you and Sully were talking about afterwards…
A: Nope, just the play that was called.
Q: How much of a different feel did this game have for you? Did it? Obviously you've been through a lot the last two weeks.
A: No. It's still going out there and trying to win a football game, so it didn't really feel different. You want to go out there and beat the Cowboys, play in front of your home crowd and give them the win. Again, I appreciate the support all the fans have given me these past weeks. It does mean a lot. Everything they've said and have come out and supported me and the Giants, I appreciate that. For me, it was about coming out today and playing well and giving our team a boost and our fans a boost and get a win.
Q: How about the process of it because Ben obviously wasn't part of it. What changed there for you?
A: For me, it's still preparation. You watch your film, meet with the coordinator, with Sully, and go over what our plan is, what do we like versus certain looks. The process did not change a whole lot.
Q: What about in-game?
A: In-game, same kind of deal. Process still pretty similar with the fact that I still talked with Sully on the sidelines. Mac always had his touches on the offense and everything, but it's still about playing the game and communicating with the offensive coordinator, with Sully, and none of that changed.
Q: Once the game starts you're just trying to win, but how about on the drive in this morning and just your emotions knowing you had your job back?
A: I guess I just looked at it as, hey, it's another opportunity to go play and win a football game, so obviously the last few weeks have been difficult with losing my starting job and losing your head coach. Those things are hard and they are personal, and hurt. I don't like losing a head coach, I take that personally. That's on me for not doing my job. I don't like losing my starting job. That's personal, also, and that's because I haven't played well enough and we're not winning games. I appreciate Spags giving me an opportunity to get to start this week and see if we could get us a win and I'm sorry we didn't play well enough to get that win.
Q: Coach Spags talked about adversity bringing out unity in his press conference earlier this week. Did you guys feel any more unified out there?
A: I think the team has done a great job of staying together. It'd be easy to complain, and to bark at each other and say it's not fair and that one side's not doing their part, but we haven't fallen into that trap. We have some high character guys on this team that are working hard every week, doing their absolute best, and I appreciate that. I appreciate the effort, work, enthusiasm to go win a football game. Again, we played hard today against a good team, and we just have to find a way to finish these games.
Q: Was there any personal conversation you had with Coach Spagnuolo before the game?
A: No. We just talked this week about the flow of things, and that it wouldn't be different without Coach Mac here. You know, just two-minute drives, using timeouts, handling the clock, just had some conversations with him on what we want to do and to make sure we're on the same page.
Q: What did it mean to you to get so much support from your peers around the league?
A: Whether it was from former teammates, friends, fans, notes, text messages, it meant a lot. Those former teammates who I played with, I appreciated it. It made me want to be a better teammate to Geno and support him. And from the fans, I appreciate the nice words said about me. I just had to do the right thing and be a good person, and be a great teammate, and that's what I strived to do.
Q: Is it tough in the last three weeks to not have the mentality of just playing the string out?
A: No. I think the mindset is to prepare and play hard, and go out there and get a win. Nothing's easy, but we hung in there and have played tough. Dallas made a couple big plays, and we didn't.
Linebacker Calvin Munson
Q: Was there any air taken out of the defense when Landon Collins went down? Things seemed to fall apart after that.
A: I wouldn't say they fell apart. Landon is a big part of our defense. He's a great player, but I know the guys coming in stepping up for him, I know they were going to give it their all and play as hard as they could and I know they did. We just got to play better and not give up so many explosive plays.
Q: How do you think you guys came out this week after everything that has gone on this week?
A: As a rookie, I'm just kind of here. I don't have a lot of say on the team, but I think the vets did a great job of leading the team, leading us younger guys and just showing us, hey, no matter what's going on on the outside, we just got to play ball and I thought the vets and the coaches did a great job of that.
Q: So it was just a couple of big plays they busted?
A: Yeah, we just gave up a few explosive plays. Give them credit, they made plays and we gave up explosive plays, so we got to try to limit that. I feel like we were right there the whole time. We just gave up some big plays.
Q: They had some big plays with nobody there, too, right?
A: Yeah, you got to give them credit. They made plays when they needed to. When we needed a stop, they made the plays. So give them credit. We just got to fine tune it and do better next week.
Q: What has this year been like in general for you?
A: I think as a team, we've been through a lot of adversity this year. I think the vets have done a great job of leading us and showing us what we need to do each week, no matter what's going on with the team or outside, all the noise. So I think the vets have done a great job.
Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: What do you think happened in the fourth quarter?
A: I don't know. I got to go back and watch the film, man. I'm out there rushing. At that point, I don't know what's going on. So I just got to go back and look at the film. I'm pretty sure the coaches will get it right.
Q: Did it feel any different today with Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) running the show?
A: It felt great, man, it felt great. Guys came up, rallied together. We knew the situation that they were in. We knew that they had to come and get this win to keep the run going for the playoffs and we just couldn't execute and finish right. I think all together, we came out and Spags actually did his thing. The score doesn't show for it, but he actually did his thing.
Tight End Evan Engram
Q: Did it feel different having Eli Manning back?
A: No different. We just showed up. Came together all week to play a football game together. It's not different.
Q: It was so close. It was 10-10 for a while.
A: Yeah. Offensively, we had to make some big plays. Left some out there, so it was definitely a frustrating game being that close. Our defense was playing lights out. They were playing lights out all game. It was really frustrating as an offensive player, as an offense, that we came up, that we can't play complementary football. We didn't today as an offense. Defense, they played unreal. We got to be better. It's that simple. We got to help them out.
Q: What was it like being out there for the first series. Were you just focused in on what you had to do or did you hear the Eli cheers?
A: I was focused on the game. I wasn't going to worry about that.
Q: Is there any fear about losing the unity, which Steve Spagnuolo was talking about. You guys have three games left.
A: Nope. We got three games left. We got three weeks to stay together. We will.
Q: Anything in particular you feel bad about?
A: There were a couple blocks I could have probably been in a better position, had one drop, but that's football. It happens. Got to catch the ball. I just wish I could have made more plays. We wish we could have made more plays on offense.
Q: Are you surprised there was no flag on that third down in their territory?
A: That's the ref's call.
A: We could have played a lot better on offense and put a lot more points on the board, give our defense some energy more so than they already had. I mean, it's ridiculous how well they played and how good they are. We got to help them out.
Q: Do you ever say that to the defense?
A: On the sideline. Keep them up when they make big plays. Coming off the field, I keep the energy up, but the rest is between us.
S Landon Collins
Q: How's your ankle?
A: It's better. It surprised me when it happened, but I think it's real mild, it's not too much of an end of season injury. It's good.
Q: Same one you had early in the year?
A: Yes, same one.
Q: Did it happen as you went to the ground?
A: I've got to look at it. When I landed, I guess I turned a different way and as my body went over my foot, something tweaked I guess.
Q: What went wrong on that play that you got hurt on?
A: We were in man to man, I was playing off coverage, playing on the receiving side just kind of just to keep my distance because I could run any receiver down that field. He just caught the ball, I'm thinking he's going to go to the sideline, but he turned it back inside and just gained more extra yards. It's really just all my fault, that's about it.
Q: How much do you think the big pass plays hurt?
A: They were big, they were big. One was a touchdown. Mine was leading to a touchdown. It hurts really bad because it ties this defense down, then you have to go back and try to make a stop. So, yeah, it definitely hurts real bad.
Q: How frustrating was it for you, and where do you go from here?
A: Just try to continue playing as hard as we can, fight each and every week, and building a foundation.
Q: Did something change in the fourth quarter with how Dallas was playing against you?
A: No, not at all. Just different calls, we're trying to execute the different calls than the first half. If we do that, we make those plays and it's a different game.
Q: How was the communication from the sideline with Coach Steve Spagnuolo?
A: It was good. He came over to execute it with me, he went over it and if we had anything happen bad. From that standpoint, it was fine. I think it went well, they just made plays.
Q: What do you draw on as players to be successful in these next few games?
A: Each other. We stick together and know that at the end of the day, we're playing for this organization and our names on the back of that jersey. Like I said, you don't want to put anything bad on film. That's the biggest thing we try to do, and just harp on that and stay grounded.
Q: I couldn't hear you speaking about the injury?
A: It's a mild ankle sprain.
Q: Did you go for x-rays?
A: Oh for x-rays, yes. X-rays were clear. I go to get an MRI tomorrow.
Q: You were one of the best defenses last year, what do you point to to get better as a defense overall?
Q: Coach Steve Spagnuolo questioned himself for a couple calls in the fourth quarter, did he relay that to you?
A: Yeah, he took all blame for that. He said he made those calls and he second-guessed them, but we have the execute them, regardless, whatever call he makes on the field and make the best out of it. From that standpoint, it goes both ends.
Q: Does that show you something about him, that he's taking the blame?
A: Yeah. I mean, that's a head coach, a defensive coordinator, that's a coach that knows his mistakes. He knows how to take ownership.
Q: At this point with the emotions and at 10-10, do you feel like you're close and then let it slip to 30-10, did that happen quickly?
A: That happened quickly. I didn't watch the rest of the game, after I got hurt I walked inside. It does happen quickly. It hurts, definitely hurts. For myself not being on the field to help my guys make plays, yeah it frustrates me.
Q: Did you guys take the field playing for each other to get a win?
A: Regardless of the fact, we come into this thing, we have a job to do. If you want to be on an NFL team, you've got to come in here and do your job, regardless of the situation, regardless of your record. You love football, you love playing for this team, this organization, any organization at that, you come in here and play your ball.
Q: Is there any part of you that's kind of reminding everyone that this is your spot and where you want to be next year?
A: This is not where we want to be next year, haha. Yeah definitely, I mean, regardless of the fact, we're playing for this year and next year. We just want to finish strong today and have something to lean back on and know what we can and cannot do and be the best us.
Q: What did you think of the crowd reaction to QB Eli Manning and him taking over again at quarterback?
A: Everybody loves Eli, that's what it is. I love him, too. He did his thing out there and defensively we couldn't' finish for him.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Q: Does this game sum up your season? You're close and you don't finish it off?
A: You can say that. There is definitely something about that fourth quarter, man. You fight hard for three quarters and right when you think you got it, something goes wrong and then something else goes wrong and it's just like keeps going wrong. For it to be like the 13th, 14th week in the season, we should already have a pinpoint on why that is happening and we're still searching for answers.
*Q: How much different was it today without Ben (McAdoo) here? *
A: A little different, but I think our guys still came out and played hard for the most part. We're still looking for a way to win and I think we just got to keep going, keep trying.
Q: What happened in the fourth quarter?
A: They came out and they made plays in that fourth quarter. They made all of their plays count and it seemed like they wanted it more. We're playing to get our identity back, they are playing for the playoffs. So we knew it was going to be a fight. They outlasted us as far as the mental toughness of the game.
Q: How was Spags (Steve Spagnuolo)?
A: He was good. I think he made all the right calls. Just to come in, step in there like how he did with everything that's going on. I think he handled himself very well.
*Q: Why did it seem like they wanted it more? *
A: Because they made the plays more. I think we were in position to make plays and we didn't. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to win.