EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Don’t bury Ben McAdoo just yet. Don’t shovel dirt on his coaching coffin.
This may not be what New York Giants fans want to hear, but McAdoo took a step in the right direction toward saving his job Sunday with a 12-9 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium. Aldrick Rosas kicked a 23-yard field goal with under two minutes left in the extra session two plays after Roger Lewis made a tremendous diving catch near the goal line on fourth down.
McAdoo’s team didn’t crumble. They didn’t lay another defensive egg. They were shorthanded and overmatched talent-wise by the Chiefs, yet put forth a solid effort in a game they weren’t supposed to have a chance to win. In fact, they thrived late in a close game, something they haven’t done much this season. It was significantly better than the product they put on the field in recent weeks.
The Giants (2-8) were 10-point underdogs on Sunday, according to Westgate. It was just the fifth time in the past 39 years they were double-digit underdogs at home. They still managed to lead most of Sunday and seemed to respond well — especially defensively — to a meeting earlier in the week where McAdoo was “brutally honest” and put on the board more than a few plays where the Giants didn’t show a consistent desire to finish.
They had allowed 82 points in the previous two games. The Chiefs and their fifth-ranked offense didn’t score a touchdown on Sunday or top 300 total yards until late in the fourth quarter.
It was a step in the right direction in terms of McAdoo saving his job. As he’s said before, he’s not going to go down easily.
With seven games remaining entering Sunday, the path to McAdoo remaining the Giants’ head coach after such a tumultuous season was a long shot. It’s still unlikely, at best. But it’s not impossible and certainly is more likely today than it was yesterday.
McAdoo had to first show he didn’t completely lose his locker room, and the team hadn’t quit on its coach. They played hard on Sunday. There were some positive signs.
Among them …
— After a poor effort last week (especially with his tackling) cornerback Janoris Jenkins looked more like the Pro Bowl player he was last year than the liability he was last week against the 49ers. There was one play in the first half where Jenkins fought through a block and pushed Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill out on a screen play. It was an effort they didn’t see last week. He later made a game-changing interception with just more than two minutes remaining.
— Olivier Vernon was twice escorted off the field by trainers. Once he was listed as questionable to return with a shoulder injury. He came back both times. There was no quit in Vernon.
— Despite a lack of playmakers — Sterling Shepard was a surprise inactive with an illness — the Giants pulled everything out of the playbook in order to try to make something happen. Some worked (fake punt) and others didn’t (Shane Vereen’s halfback pass in the red zone was intercepted). Still, at least the 1-8 team took some chances.
These were small steps in the right direction for McAdoo. But it was something. He had a strong first year (11-5 and ended a five-year playoff drought) while this season has been a disaster. If he can at least salvage something late in the season, it will make the decision difficult for a traditionally loyal and patient ownership group.