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Things we learned from Giants-Chiefs: The Giants can play with passion

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s victory over Kansas City

Kansas City Chiefs v New York Giants
The Giants celebrate after Aldrick Rosas hit the game-winning field goal on Sunday.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It’s fair to wonder where it has been the past few weeks, but there is no doubt the New York Giants played with passion during Sunday’s 12-9 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

From the opening series, when Giants players celebrated after ending a Chiefs’ drive at the Giants’ 46-yard line, to the walk-off celebration after Aldrick Rosas’ game winning kick with 1:54 left in overtime, the Giants were full of energy.

Where did it come from?

I’ll just let offensive guard D.J. Fluker, perhaps the most passionate Giant of all, explain.

“This locker room was on fire,” (before the game) said Fluker, still wearing his game pants and surrounded by reporters as the last player remaining in the locker room after the game.

“It started last night when we had our team meeting about everything, about the adversity, about playing with heart, playing with passion. It started last night. It started right there and next thing was like ‘let’s go get a win.’

“Came in this morning, guys were already stretching, music playing, guys hyped in the locker room. You want to see that. That’s passion for the game.”

Fluker gave credit to two people, rookie tight end Evan Engram and head coach Ben McAdoo.

It turned out to be no coincidence that Engram, the team’s first-round pick, was named a game captain this week.

“I think it started with 88 (Engram),” Fluker said. “Eighty-eight came in with a little speech the other day. ‘We need more energy on the offensive line, we need this.’ I’m looking like ‘rookie I hear you talking.’ He got us fired up. I like that. You don’t have to be an older guy to step up and speak, and he did a great job.”

It culminated on Saturday night with a speech from McAdoo during the weekly night before a game team meeting.

“It started last night when we had our team meeting about everything, about the adversity, about playing with heart, playing with passion. It started last night. It started right there and next thing was like ‘let’s go get a win,’ “ Fluker said

“We lost all our weapons early this season. Thing about it is we had guys who stepped in, who stepped up, who played hard. … We’re gonna defend our coach. Shoot, we only get one to play for and we play hard for him. I know people want to give up and all that, but we ain’t giving up, we ain’t quitting. We’re the New York Giants. We’re the Giants for a reason. If you don’t play with passion for this coach right here something’s wrong. You shouldn’t be here.

“We came in as a group and said all week we were going to go in there and play hard. That’s what we did.”

So, playing with passion is a key to victory. Mark that down.

Let’s see what else we learned on Sunday.

Apathetic fans stay home

The Giants announced a paid attendance of 76,363. No way there were that many people at MetLife, which seats 82,500. A healthy number of those in attendance were Chiefs fans. So, pretty obvious a lot of Giants fans chose not to go sit out in the wind and cold to watch a game. There were, incidentally, two fans sitting in the second deck who had bags over their heads most of the game. By overtime, they had removed the bags.

“A great show”

I don’t know that it can be called the “great show” that Ben McAdoo promised, but it was entertaining. Fans saw:

  • The Giants fake a punt, which worked when Nat Berhe ran 2 yards on fourth-and-1 the first time the Giants had the ball.
  • Shane Vereen throw a halfback pass, which didn’t work because Kansas City safety Daniel Sorenson picked it off in the end zone.
  • Damon “Snacks” Harrison intercept a shovel pass.
  • The Giants use a formation with both offensive tackles split wide.
  • Defensive tackle Robert Thomas line up at fullback on a 1-yard touchdown run by Orleans Darkwa.
  • A reverse to Kalif Raymond that failed to pick up a first down on a third-and-2.
  • Some trickeration from the Chiefs that backfield in the fourth quarter when a tight end option pass by Travis Kelce was picked off by Landon Collins.
  • An overtime game thanks to rookie kickers Aldrick Rosas of the Giants and Harrison Butker of the Chiefs in the final two minutes of regulation.
  • A Giants’ victory, their first at home after four losses.

Chad Wheeler had a good debut

The undrafted rookie free agent made his first NFL start at right tackle on Sunday. He played well, holding Chiefs’ linebacker Justin Houston to just one hit on Manning. He also threw a nice block on a 1-yard touchdown run by Orleans Darkwa.

Olivier Vernon was the one-armed man

Don’t accuse Olivier Vernon of packing it in for the year because the Giants entered Sunday 1-8. After injuring his left shoulder in the first half Vernon played the second half from a standing position, unable to get into his three-point stance or use his left arm to take on or shed blockers. He finished with only three tackles and no hits on Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith, but the fact that he stayed on the field spoke volumes about him.

The real Landon Collins returned

The third-year safety had 14 tackles, one for loss, an interception, and a pass defensed. Most of all, he had a real impact on the game. He played better than he has all season, and more like the guy who was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year last season.

The streak ended, but ...

The Giants did not exactly “blanket” Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce. They managed to keep him out of the end zone, ending their NFL record streak of giving up touchdown passes to tight ends at 10 games. Kelce, though, had eight receptions on 14 targets for 109 yards. He had a 32-yard catch to help set up the Chiefs’ game-tying field goal on their final possession of regulation, and he also had catches of 22 and 21 yards.