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Giants Q&A: Ben McAdoo played his starters and it worked out fine

Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants

Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants calls signals against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Smith

Why didn’t anyone believe Ben McAdoo?

The rookie coach said he was going to play his starters and try to beat Washington even though it was a meaningless game for the Giants in terms of postseason positioning. And that’s exactly what he did. With the exception of Odell Beckham Jr., who played a little more than a half, and Janoris Jenkins (bruised back), who returned to action, the Giants did not vary from their usual rotation. Even Eli Manning played the entire game. Most observers were waiting for McAdoo to pull the plug at some point — either after the early touchdown or at halftime — but he never did. He was a man of his word.

Did the players believe him?

They didn’t have much choice. “This is my first year with him as the head coach, so I have to take what he says as true,” wide receiver Victor Cruz said. “It felt like everybody was going to play and we all played.”

Guard Justin Pugh said he felt the only way the starters would come out was if the score was lopsided late. “We should have blown them out early,” Pugh said.

And linebacker Jonathan Casillas said McAdoo never said anything all week about resting players. “I didn’t think anybody was going to be sitting down,” he said. “I guess Odell came out, but that’s fine. I want him healthy for the playoffs.”

Did it work?

Well, let’s just say it didn’t backfire. The Giants did not appear to suffer any serious injuries to key players as they head into the playoffs. And they theoretically gained a measure of momentum as they head to the wild-card round next weekend.

How did Jenkins look?

He started and played about a half before heading to the sideline. After missing last week’s game against the Eagles, he was able to make a few plays and looked fine moving around the field. “He’s sore,” McAdoo said after the game. “[The medical staff is] looking at him right now and I know he’s sore. We wanted to be smart with him.”

Where did Tavarres King come from?

The wide receiver has been inactive most of the season but stepped in as Beckham’s second-half replacement Sunday. He caught only one pass, but it was a huge one, a 44-yarder that set up the winning field goal in the fourth quarter. It was only his second catch of the season.

“For Eli to trust me at a critical moment in the game, it was so exciting,” King said. “It’s amazing. For them to call my number when I haven’t had a lot of chances, it’s an honor.”

What happened on Cullen Jenkins’ sack of Manning in the fourth quarter?

Pugh said he thought he would have help on the inside when Jenkins, a former Giant, spun in that direction, but center Weston Richburg correctly picked up a different assignment and Jenkins flattened Manning. Pugh took full responsibility for the play. “I told Cullen it was his retirement present,” Pugh said.

Why did Bobby Hart not play?

The right tackle injured his forearm late in the week and McAdoo said he decided to hold him out. Marshall Newhouse started in his place, which reunited the opening-day offensive line.

New York Sports