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Ben McAdoo victorious in NFL head-coaching debut

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo watches

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo watches play against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday Sept. 11, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: AP / Michael Ainsworth

ARLINGTON, Texas — Ben McAdoo wasn’t much into celebrating the fact that he earned his first NFL win as a head coach in his first game. So how did it feel?

“I’m still replaying the game in my head,” McAdoo said a few minutes after the Giants beat the Cowboys, 20-19, on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, their first opening-day win since 2010. “I’ll get a chance to look at the film tonight. Sometime in February, I’ll enjoy it.”

There’s a lot of time between now and then, but McAdoo clearly is not into dwelling on himself, choosing instead to concentrate on his team.

“My emotions? Didn’t have much to do with anything,” said McAdoo, who called the offensive plays after being coy for months about whether he or offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan would perform that task. “I was focused on the game. It was great to see the defense come up with a stop there at the end. They battled all night. It was nice to see our [intense] Thursday practices pay off. They certainly did there at the end.”

McAdoo was faced with a critical decision late in the game as the Giants clung to a one-point lead and had the ball on a fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 37 with 1:12 to play. A first down would mean the game would be all but over, given that the Cowboys had used all their timeouts and the Giants could run out the clock.

But a failure to convert would give the Cowboys good field position, and Dallas kicker Dan Bailey already had made four field goals, including a 56-yarder.

Rather than take the risk, McAdoo opted to have Brad Wing punt the ball away and pin the Cowboys further into their own territory, giving rookie quarterback Dak Prescott a bigger challenge to move into field-goal position.

“Brad, he’s our sniper,” McAdoo said. “He’s good at downing the ball inside the 10. We’re going to play to our strengths, and that’s one of his strengths. He had to deal with a little bit of a high snap and did a nice job fielding the ball and made sure he got it off after that.”

But Wing’s punt went into the end zone, so the Cowboys got the ball at their own 20. Prescott drove them to the Giants’ 40 after a 14-yard completion to wide receiver Terrance Williams. But rather than run out of bounds and stop the clock for another play or two, Williams stayed in bounds and kept the clock running. The Cowboys didn’t get another play off as time expired.

After the game, quarterback Eli Manning gave McAdoo the game ball.

“He absolutely deserves it,” right tackle Marshall Newhouse said of the 39-year-old coach. “He’s a young head coach, young in his tenure, but he has all the makings to be a good head coach. We’re definitely behind him and will support him. I’m sure there are doubts about his ability, but he came out and led us. We’ve all got a lot of growing to do, and it’ll be exciting to see how far we can go.”


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