With seemingly the entire country outside of the Giants' locker room looking for avenues to end Eli Manning's career in New York, the team rallied around their quarterback for Sunday's upset overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The usually quiet Manning lit a fire under his squad on Sunday.
"In pregame he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up," running back Orleans Darkwa said on a Monday conference call, via Newsday's Tom Rock. "To have a guy like that who has been through so much, who has those two Super Bowl rings, we follow his footsteps in everything. To have him come up there, it shows the weight that he carries on this team. He's definitely up for it, and everybody tries to follow in his footsteps because he's been there, he's done that, as far as reaching the Promised Land."
The Giants certainly played with more purpose and vigor Sunday than they had in previous blowouts. The effort was evident on the field and flowed from Manning's pregame speech.
"Eli is the heartbeat of our team," Darkwa said.
Manning generally plays the quiet leader. He's the little brother who speaks more through actions than words. He's not usually the fire-up-the-troops guy and isn't one to get in the face of a teammate or call someone out publicly. Eli is Eli.
When the man speaks with a purpose, however, his teammates fall in line.
"He talks to us a lot," Darkwa said. "The difference yesterday was just you could sense the fire in his voice. But at the end of the day, Eli is going to be Eli. He shouldn't change the way he commands a room, he shouldn't change the way he talks to us. That's just how he is. That's how he leads us."
Unfortunately for the 2-8 Giants, those fiery words came too late to save a lost season. Now Manning and his teammates are simply trying to save their jobs.