It was hardly impressive, nor particularly exciting, but the Giants did more than enough to handle the Chiefs, 13-3, in front of 77,666 fans at Arrowhead Stadium.
With the win, Big Blue evened its record at 1-1, improving its road mark to the same one season after capturing seven of eight away contests.
"All of our minds are on the things that are going on with our country," Head Coach Jim Fassel said. "We're proud of our people. New York's finest, the police officers, the firefighters and the Port Authority, all those people gave their lives and I know there's support out there."
"I said last night [to the team] to keep in mind what we're playing for," QB Kerry Collins said. "I wanted us to play with the passion and pride that we owed to all of those people. "We wanted to make New York proud. We were hoping to give them something to smile about."
Mission accomplished. The key to winning this game may have actually come Saturday night when Fassel addressed his troops as he always does the night before a game. However, this time, Fassel kept his words to a minimum and then turned the floor over to his players.
"I wanted them to let go of some emotion," Fassel said. "I wanted them to speak. It was important that they let their emotions out. A number of players talked and did an outstanding job and put things in perspective. Then I knew they were ready to play."
Collins and five of his teammates poured their hearts out and really hit home with the entire team. "It was great that all those guys spoke up like they did," said P Rodney Williams, who admitted that his heart was in his stomach during the pre-game ceremony.
"The bottom line was that we're trying to show the U.S. that we're moving forward." In addition to Collins, SS Sam Garnes, TE Howard Cross, DE Michael Strahan, FB Greg Comella and LB Micheal Barrow took turns speaking.
Garnes urged his club to start quickly because he had heard Chiefs QB Trent Green say during the week that the Giants may come out a bit flat due to all the extenuating circumstances. Comella mentioned how hard the rescue workers were working and that the Giants, in order to rightfully give back to the community, needed to do the same.
But the most passionate speech came from Barrow, clearly the most spiritual player on the team. In addition to his words, Barrow posted a game-high 11 tackles.
"He stood out the most," said FS Shaun Williams, who chipped in with a key interception in the game. "He said a lot of powerful things. He was talking about how we supposedly have a lot of pressure on us to win this game. He was explaining that we don't have any idea of what pressure really is.
"Real pressure is what the folks back in New York are feeling. They're tearing through stuff trying to save people's lives and they're not worried about pressure. Us, there's no real pressure on us."
That said; New York still badly wanted to win for their hometown heroes. And they did. The Giants defense was bolstered by the return to health of RCB Jason Sehorn and the insertion of LCB Will Allen into the starting line-up. Additionally, their front four supplied the pass rush that was so desperately missing in Denver.
While New York only sacked Green once, they hurried him and didn't allow the KC signal-caller to get comfortable in the pocket the way Broncos QB Brian Griese set up shop in their previous game. Green completed 17-of-34 passes for 184 yards, but never really hurt the Giants.
Sehorn looked good, but Allen and third-round pick Will Peterson, who slid into the nickel back role, were outstanding.
"I think the secondary is stabilized," Fassel said. "Those two young guys were driving [to] the ball and making some plays."
Allen said that he was extremely nervous before the game, enough so that he headed out onto the field to look around and collect his thoughts an hour before the rest of his teammates. Then, pre-game words from Barrow helped put him at ease.
"Micheal told me to just go play like I was the best corner on the field," said Allen, who was officially told that he was starting last Monday. "I felt real good; my motor was running all game. "For me, winning in my first start and playing well with all that's going on, it's just incredible. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm sure it will [Sunday night]."
New York did a good job of handling Kansas City TE Tony Gonzalez, who only had five grabs for 43 yards. Especially with Chiefs WR Derrick Alexander out of the game due to injury, Defensive Coordinator John Fox was able to switch up his coverages to make sure that Kansas City's number 88, probably the NFL's best tight end, was accounted for at all times.
Offensively, the Giants made a TD run by RB Ron Dayne stand up. Dayne and Tiki Barber combined for 79 yards. Collins moved the team decently enough, considering that he was also intercepted three times. Collins said that his three picks were "two bad decisions and one that was under-thrown."
Fassel, however, wasn't so sure. "The receivers had a chance to knock some of those balls down," he said. "We really have to work on that."
The offensive star was WR Joe Jurevicius, who caught a career-best seven passes for 90 yards. "Joe did an outstanding job," Fassel said. "Joe's been playing really well," Collins added. "I'm not surprised he had the type of game he had." Jurevicius was just happy to get the win. "We won, that's the most important thing," he said.
"We showed that we can win in the face of adversity. Hopefully this puts some smiles on some peoples' faces back home."
The Giants broke onto the scoreboard first. Big Blue's defense stopped the Chiefs three-and-out on Kansas City's first possession. RDE Kenny Holmes almost intercepted Green's pass on the game's first play as SLB Brandon Short came blitzing up the middle. Barber took the ensuing punt and brought it back 23 yards, setting up K Morten Andersen's 42-yard field goal. New holder Jason Garrett, whom Andersen requested last week, held Andersen's boot.
The quarterbacks exchanged poor throws later in the first quarter. Collins forced a third-down pass to a heavily covered Jurevicius, a throw that was picked off by Chiefs CB Ray Crockett at New York's 21-yard line.
A few plays later, Green, with a first-and-goal at the Giants six-yard line, fired a pass intended for Chiefs TE Jason Dunn right to Shaun Williams. New York went on the march from there, swiftly moving 80 yards in nine plays. A 22-yard catch-and-run by TE Dan Campbell and a 13-yard misdirection sweep left by Barber aided the drive, which was capped by a seven-yard Dayne run.
The big back rumbled right behind RG Ron Stone and stretched into the end zone for the points. New York looked to be readying to add to its lead late in the second period after Jurevicius made an athletic 32-yard grab, leaping up and over Crockett to gather in Collins' pass. However, on the next play, Collins under-threw a wide-open Amani Toomer and Chiefs CB Eric Warfield picked the ball off. A better pass would have been an easy New York TD.
New York padded its lead to 13-0 at halftime with a 34-yard Andersen field goal. The Giants used their hurry-up offense to move 42 yards after a Keith Hamilton sack of Green on fourth down gave Big Blue the ball with little more than a minute to play in the half. The Chiefs finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter when former Giants draft choice Todd Peterson drilled a 33-yard FG. Kansas City's score was set up by a 49-yard reception from rookie receiver Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, who got behind Sehorn and caught the ball before Garnes could arrive. Peterson then missed a 49-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter that sealed New York's win.
New York moved the ba