It was a big moment for Janoris Jenkins when the New York Giants cornerback had a key interception in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 12-9 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs. His teammates saw it as vindication for a player who had come under heavy criticism for the past week for a perceived lack of intensity and commitment on the field.
During last Sunday’s 31-21 loss at the San Francisco 49ers, Jenkins effort — or lack thereof — was called into question on several plays. He flailed badly on a long 49ers touchdown connection and was out of place on other plays.
But fast forward a week to this past Sunday and Jenkins turned in one of the game’s biggest plays, an interception of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith that he returned 17 yards. The play set up the Giants to briefly take a 9-6 lead in the tight game.
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For the Giants, it was a positive moment to rally around in the midst of a difficult season. A couple weeks earlier, Jenkins was suspended from the team and seemed to be a locker room issue.Now he was rebounding from a difficult game with a pivotal play.
“We know what kind of player he is. This was the time for him to showcase that. His talent, ability, and passion for the game, a lot of people have been saying that he is giving up and not playing the way he usually plays,” Giants safety Landon Collins said after the Giants win. “He’s been hurt, and nicked up and everyone is. At the same time, we came out here and fought.”
Pro Football Focus noted that while Jenkins allowed five catches on seven targets, it was just for a combined 20 yards. Factor in that fourth quarter interception and it was a big day for the Giants cornerback.
A bounce-back game for a player who heard the criticism all week and responded not by lashing out or dropping negative headlines but by showing up on the field. His teammates needed this one. So to did his coach.
Jenkins very nearly had a second interception in the fourth quarter, a play that was instead called for defensive pass interference. If it had stood then Jenkins and the Giants would have been able to close out the Chiefs in regulation.
Instead, the Chiefs used that penalty to drive down the field and tie the game, forcing overtime.
“The redemption — I thought Janoris Jenkins played his tail off. We’ll have to go back, take a look at the tape and see what we saw on the last – on that second pick,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said. “Thought we could have iced the game there. But, he played his tail off. He was all over the field, did a good job turning the ball back inside a few times, was playing physical. It was good to see him do that.”
No one can criticize Jenkins for his performance this past weekend in keying just the Giants second win of the season.
“I don’t pay attention to that, man,” Jenkins said when asked if the criticism will die down this week. “Like I said, last week was last week. We came out, we played good this week and we’re just moving forward.”