Ben McAdoo succeeded Tom Coughlin as Giants head coach last winter, but the baton pass may not have been complete until Monday Night, when Coughlin entered the Ring of Honor at halftime and then gave way to McAdoo stamping his identity on his Giants with a gutsy, fourth-down goal-line call for the win.
On the Cincinnati Bengals’ 3-yard line, trailing 20-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, Eli Manning and the Giants offense had no doubt they were going for it on fourth-and-goal rather than kicking the field goal. Why?
Because McAdoo had told Manning he was going to after first down, as the third quarter ended and the teams switched sides of the field for the decisive final frame.
“Coach McAdoo told me on second down, ‘Hey, we’re in four-down territory just so you know,’ so I knew we’d go for it if we needed to on fourth down,” Manning said.
“We felt like we needed to score touchdowns,” McAdoo said, unwavering. “We were going for it.”
McAdoo made the call even though his first fourth-down call of the game, a fouth-and-2 at the Bengals’ 37-yard line midway through the second quarter, had ended with Manning on his butt, sacked by Cincy’s Geno Atkins. The rookie head coach stuck to being aggressive, which he had said on Friday is “how I grew up in the game.”
The offense responded by licking its chops.
“I don’t mind him going for it at all,” Odell Beckham Jr. said with a smirk.
“Our coach believes in us,” right tackle Bobby Hart said.
Manning then said that McAdoo’s heads up that they were in four-down territory helped him be patient on third down and settle for a six-yard completion to Tavarres King, knowing the offense would have one more shot.
Eli Manning knew the Giants were in ‘four down territory.’
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
“I knew I could take my checkdown to TK, maybe he gets in and if not we would have a chance to go for it on fourth down,” Manning said. “So it was good job by (McAdoo) telling me that on second down so you know the plan and you’re not trying to force things to get touchdowns.”
It was Beckham who cleared space on the left side of the end zone by drawing a Bengals safety deep. Rookie Sterling Shepard then slipped across, past a linebacker and into the open area to receive Manning’s game-winning touchdown pass — his third of the game to offset two interceptions.
“I was happy,” said Shepard, who redeemed himself for an earlier drop. “Coach has a lot of trust in us. Everything was A-plus about that play. And it’s funny because Eli and I talked about that exact same play Sunday, and he was telling me different looks on what to do, and the first look we talked about, that was exactly what we saw. So I’m just happy I have a smart quarterback in Eli.”
Of course, if the play didn’t succeed, this Giants coach from coal country in Western Pa. would be raked over the coals for being over-aggressive, but Hart said that was more incentive to reward McAdoo for his trust.
“You see your coach willing to put it out all on the line for you, so you don’t wanna let him down,” Hart said, “because you guys (in the media), if we don’t pick him up, ya’ll are gonna be all over him. So we can’t let our boy go down like that.”
McAdoo’s aggressiveness did more than give the Giants the go-ahead touchdown. The bigger picture was watching the dynamic of this team having its coach’s back in action.
“Regardless of what happens, we ride and die on every play and have full confidence in our coach’s decision making,” special teams captain Zak DeOssie said. “There’s no doubt on any play. Whatever happens we deal with it.”
The byproduct is now the Giants’ first four-game winning streak since 2013, and the beginnings of an identity, of what it means to be the Ben McAdoo Giants, as articulated by DeOssie, one of the team leaders.
“We just deal with whatever happens that comes our way,” he said. “We just deal with it and make sure that we come out on top. Things are gonna happen. There’s gonna be ups. There’s gonna be downs. We just focus on the next play and do whatever we have to do to win.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News