Giants head coach Ben McAdoo may have a similar range of facial expressions to Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, but there was no mistaking his relief on Sunday after his winless team stunned the Broncos in Denver.
"We talked about [how no one gave us a chance] Tuesday morning in our team meeting. We talked about it all week long and revisited it last night. We talked about, you know, our record isn't good but that doesn't mean we're a bad football team," McAdoo told reporters afterward. "We're a good football team, we just need to find paths to victory. We found one tonight, now we just have to start stacking them."
The Giants' week leading up to Denver was perforated by unexpected wounds and self-inflicted ones. Odell Beckham underwent season-ending surgery, as did Brandon Marshall. McAdoo benched Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the latter of which resulted in a feud that caused Rodgers-Cromartie to leave the facility and earn an indefinite suspension that wasn't popular inside the locker room.
And after all of that, a few simple fixes got the team back to adequate offensively and the defense finally played up to their capabilities.
By stacking the offensive line with the team's best run blocking five and feeding downhill runner Orleans Darkwa, the Giants became a more straightforward offense, but also one less dependent on the boom-or-bust passing game buoyed by Beckham. By rolling Eli Manning out on a good percentage of their passing plays, the pressure was taken off embattled left tackle Ereck Flowers, who was always going to be a better power run blocker anyway.