The New York Giants had as frustrating a start to the season as any team in the NFL. They coughed up double-digit fourth-quarter leads against the Cowboys and Falcons and lost both games by a combined five points to start 0-2 for the third straight season.
The Giants probably felt a lot of pressure to win their next few games and stay in the NFC East race.
Only not really.
“No, no pressure,” Giants tight end Larry Donnell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That just meant we had to hit it a little bit harder, work a little bit harder. The first two games we lost, we had a chance to win those two football games against some good teams and we didn’t do that. But we came back and went to work and went back at it and made it happen the last (few) games.”
Indeed, the Giants beat Washington and Buffalo by double digits and came back to beat San Francisco, 30-27, on Sunday Night Football. The Giants marched 82 yards in 84 seconds on the final drive, with Donnell fending off double coverage to haul in the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds to go.
“That whole drive, it was guys making plays,” Donnell said. “O-Line, Eli, Shane, Odell – we built some momentum early in that drive. The blood was flowing and Eli looked good. He just put it up there and I just went and got it.”
Manning finished 41-of-54 for 441 yards and three touchdowns, adding yet another fourth-quarter comeback to his resume.
“Eli’s the man,” Donnell said. “With him behind center, there’s nothing that can’t be done. If there’s time on the clock and everybody does what they’re supposed to do, there’s no doubt he’s going to get it done. He’s proven. In those situations, he’s done it – and we did it the other night. We know we can do it now. It’s something we can build on.”
Now atop the NFC East, the Giants have two divisional games upcoming. They play the Eagles (2-3) in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football on Oct. 19, and they host the Cowboys (2-3) on Oct. 25.
“We’re going to get prepared for the upcoming week,” Donnell said. “We’ll grind and put cleats in the dirt and prepare and get ready to play a good team and try to get another win.”
That’s exactly the way no-nonsense coach Tom Coughlin wants it. After Week 2, people were calling for his job. Three weeks later, the Giants are atop their division.
“He’s the anchor,” Donnell said. “He keeps everybody together. He keeps us going. We have trust in him that he knows what he’s doing. We won a few games, but let’s win a few more. We want to keep going and try to get some more wins and put ourselves in the best position as possible.”
If the Giants have looked extra motivated in recent weeks, it’s because they have been. Tight end Daniel Fells has undergone five surgical procedures in recent weeks to treat a staph infection in his foot. Fells is reportedly responding well to antibiotics, but his career may be over.
“He’s basically my brother, my teammate, a good friend of mine,” Donnell said. “It’s really tough. We’re just playing and hoping for him to get out of there as soon as possible and get healthy. It’s hard for us, especially me, to see him like that.”
Donnell said that the Giants’ win Sunday “lit up” Fells and “gave him some life.”
“He gave us life also,” Donnell said. “He’s going to come out of that thing well. I believe that. We’re going to keep praying and he’ll be fine.”