The Giants earned a tie atop the NFC East with Sunday’s comeback win in Arizona, but most of the talk yesterday was still about how they won.
The controversial call by the officials, which allowed the Giants to maintain possession late in the fourth quarter despite replays showing wideout Victor Cruz clearly stumbling and haphazardly placing the ball on the carpet, was still all the talk.
“I assure you it was as much fun watching the end of the game on tape, as it was [Sunday] night,” Coughlin said. “Say what you want about that [Cruz] play but our guys kept playing. We had a lot of guys step up in the end, like [tight end Jake] Ballard, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. It was some way to finish and I’m proud of that.”
Coughlin noted he’s also been proud of the way quarterback Eli Manning has played. Sure, the Cruz play shifted the whole momentum of the game, but Coughlin allowed that it’s been the error-free ways of Manning that’s really allowed the Giants to sit atop the division.
Manning was criticized heavily during the preseason for not throwing a touchdown pass, but he’s played near flawless football by not throwing an interception so far. Coughlin said that was the main point beat into Manning since he led the league in picks last year with 25.
“His approach has changed in that he’s trying to stay away from being pressured into making those tight throws that unfortunately have ended up going the other way,” Coughlin said. “There’s been an emphasis on protecting the ball this year. He’s definitely in tune with that.”
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The Giants as a whole have been in tune lately, winning three straight, but that doesn’t mean all’s perfect with Big Blue. Linebacker Michael Boley stressed how disappointed he and his teammates were following yet another great rushing performance by an opponent. Two weeks ago it was Eagles running back LeSean McCoy running circles around Giants defenders and Sunday featured a career day from Beanie Wells, who tallied 138 yards and a career-high three rushing touchdowns.
If Big Blue wants to keep up its winning ways they know they can’t rely solely on Manning’s current hot streak or heroics from unsung players like Cruz and Ballard. Eventually they’ll need to return to their dominant ways on defense.
“We’re pretty concerned about it because we pride ourselves against stopping the run and we haven’t done a good job of that the last two weeks,” said Boley. “We need work extra hard to get that corrected [because] we usually do a great job at stopping the run.”
Big Blue notes
» Coughlin was in high spirits during the first half of his conference call, but things turned a little dicey as he was constantly pressed about the Cruz play. He finally turned back into a curmudgeon when asked about the play about three too many times: “You’re not going to get any more out of me on this one. I’m standing by the way the rule is interpreted by the officials. And if you look at it again there’s no question he was giving himself up and on his way back to the huddle.”
He added while it must be a downer to be a Cardinal this morning, thinking they had the game won, he said he’s done answering hypothetical questions about how he’d feel if it happened to him and directed any queries to Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt: “You better ask the Cardinals [how they feel]. I think that over a course of a game you can point to one or two things, but over the course of the game you have many opportunities [to win or lose]. Just as one individual doesn’t win or lose a game, I think there’s not just one play.”
» Starting center David Baas injured his neck in the third quarter of the Cardinals game and was relieved by Kevin Boothe, who then promptly gave up a strip sack of Manning. While it was Boothe’s man who caused the damage, Coughlin said he has not lost faith in the young backup: “Kevin has been in there before, whether it’s been guard or tackle and now center. There wasn’t a focus to not run just because Kevin was in there.
» Coughlin was also quick to squelch the way the media and players romanticize playing hurt. He abruptly put an end to the gushing over the effort defensive end Justin Tuck (neck/groin) made by at least hopping on the team flight before team doctor’s ruled him inactive: “He doesn’t make those decisions. He’s the captain of the defense and if we think a player has a chance to play and help us, he’s coming. And that’s all there is to it. Regardless of any of that other stuff that’s said.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.