The fire and intensity that propelled Ahmad Bradshaw to more than 300 rushing yards in two games turned on his teammates Sunday as he exchanged words with them -- and coach Tom Coughlin -- and even whacked one of them in the helmet. But the Giants insist they are flameproof and that they'd rather receive an occasional singe from Bradshaw's emotions than have him dial back.
"There's never been any question about Ahmad Bradshaw's toughness, his intensity level," Coughlin said Monday. "He plays the game hard. You like to have everybody play as hard as he does. He gives it everything he's got . . . But sometimes you do have to control yourself and control your emotions, and he's working on it."
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Bradshaw was a bubbling cauldron for most of the 27-23 win over the Redskins, but he got particularly worked up in two instances caught on the Fox broadcast. The first outburst was after a run in the third quarter on which he took a counter handoff left for 15 yards. He likely would have had more, but Victor Cruz failed to block Madieu Williams. The safety made the tackle and Bradshaw jumped up, spiked the ball angrily and smacked Cruz in the back of the helmet.
"It didn't tickle, to say the least," Cruz said. "But it's all fine. He just wants the best out of everyone. On that specific play, he felt like I could've done more. I agree with him, and we hugged it out later on."
Bradshaw also was caught in what appeared to be a heated argument with Coughlin as Bradshaw ran onto the field. Although the exchange was aired in the fourth quarter, the broadcast noted that it took place after Stevie Brown's interception in the third quarter. The Giants' previous possession included the missed block by Cruz and ended with an interception thrown by Eli Manning.
"I was just saying, 'Run the ball,' going onto the field," Bradshaw said. "A lot of my emotions kicking in. I just want to help my team win as much as possible . . . [Coughlin] is animated just like I am and we're just excited to go out."
Bradshaw had 316 yards on 57 carries against the Browns and 49ers but was bottled up for 43 yards on 12 carries Sunday. He also split time with Andre Brown for the first time in three games. Brown returned from a concussion.
Most of Bradshaw's teammates came to his defense Monday.
"Ahmad plays hard and he loves the game of football," Manning said. "You appreciate his passion and his dedication to give it all every game."
"Hey, if I'm going to a fight, I'm taking Ahmad with me," safety Antrel Rolle said. "I love that guy, I love his passion, I love the attitude he brings to a game . . . He's a passionate player, he wears it on his sleeve, and I back him 100 percent. We ride or die with Ahmad."
Several players, including Bradshaw and Rolle, suggested that such altercations between coaches and players are more common than most people believe. This one just happened to be caught on television.
Coughlin said he discussed the matter with Bradshaw and clearly wanted to move past it.
"Is that the only question that we're going to have today, about Ahmad saying, 'Good morning, Coach' to me?" Coughlin said after several questions on the topic at the start of his news conference Monday.
Although the images of the starting running back and head coach jawing may have been shocking, and Cruz certainly was surprised that he was walloped, few were surprised that Bradshaw had boiled over.
"He's like that in the locker room, he's like that at breakfast, he's like that at dinner, he's like that in the shower," tight end Martellus Bennett said. "If he's riding in your car, you've got to turn up the music really loud . . . I don't know a good adjective to describe him, but Ahmad is Ahmad."
Sometimes, the Giants understand, that means he's Ahmad as hell.