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McAdoo: Defensive play means Giants “always in the game”

Coach also avoids being critical of Eli Manning [Updated with full quotes]

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Devon Kennard forces a Dak Prescott fumble.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Can the 9-4 New York Giants continue to win football games if their offense continues to sputter like a bet-up old car, which it has most of the season?

I think if you play defensive football the way we played defensive football last night, you’re always in the ball game and have a chance to win,” head coach Ben McAdoo said Monday in a conference call with reporters a day after the defense was dominant in a 10-7 victory over the 11-2 Dallas Cowboys. “We have play-makers on the offensive side of the ball and on special teams. We have weapons there. They’re going to keep us in ballgames and give us a chance to win in the end.

McAdoo also credited punter Brad Wing and the punt coverage team for creating long fields for the Dallas offense. Five Wing punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, two of those inside the 5-yard line.

“I thought the coverage teams played extremely well, kickoff and punt. We had five punts downed inside the 20-yard line and two inside the five. Big in the ball game,” McAdoo said.

Here are a few other takeaways from McAdoo’s Monday call.

On the play of Eli Manning ...

“I think it was a gritty performance. He hung in there and took some shots early in the ball game. We need to take better care of the football.

“When things go well, the quarterback gets a lot of credit. When things don’t, the quarterback gets a lot of the blame. Right now, things aren’t going very well on offense. We’re having consistency issues. It’s not just the quarterback. It’s the whole way around. We have to keep working at it and find a way to get that out of our system. Find a way to eliminate the unforced turnovers.”

On Manning’s interception ...

“I think it was a combination of things. Victor (Cruz) has to be more aggressive coming back to the ball. Could’ve been a little bit of the placement of the ball or he could’ve pushed it to the back. He felt the squeeze. There was an open triangle and that’s where he felt the ball should go. You’d like to see that be ours or no one’s.

On Manning’s near interceptions ...

“The late slant over the middle, I think they were on the same page. I think they covered that one well. The one to (Barry) Church, we have to make a better decision.”

More McAdoo

On the offensive line ...

“Like the rest of the offense, there’s some inconsistencies in there. You can’t always point to one guy or one moment or whether it’s a run play or pass protection. It’s almost like we’re taking turns having breakdowns.”

On Ereck Flowers ...

“I think he settled down in the second half and played a better second half than he did the first half.”

On his belief the offense took a step forward despite scoring only 10 points ...

“We left some offense out there, obviously. I like the physicality in running the football. The 31 rush attempts, is what it ended up being. We made Dallas play a full game on defense, something they haven’t had to do a lot of this year. That was a big part of things. We don’t want the time of possession and the number of plays to get tilted to one side, so our defense can play physical and aggressive for 60 minutes. We thought that was key in the ball game. I thought we did a nice job there.”

On the importance of running the ball vs. Dallas ...

“Last night, it was important for us to not have the game be one-sided and tilted in time of possession. That was the key for us going into a ball game as a team. We felt that Dallas in their wins have been very successful with a bunch of rush attempts. Really holding the ball and playing the whole game like a four-minute offense. Just protecting their defense. We thought that we need to limit the number of opportunities that they had with Dallas’ offense along with all the playmakers that they have. Limit the number of touches they have and increase the number of touches that you have. Try and run the clock a little bit. We need to complete the ball a little bit better, that would also help us. The number of rushes last night was a key.”

On whether the play of the offense is frustrating ...

“We don’t get frustrated. We’re not going to waste our time with that. We focus on getting better and we need to get better. When you have 13 (Beckham) out there, you know he can change the game in a blink of an eye. The way the defense is playing and the way the special teams covered last night, we just have to hang in there, stay in the moment, play a 60-minute game and be the best team in the league at playing the next play.”