Evan Engram was asked the same question in various ways all week. The basic premise was this: How do you reconcile personal success with team failure?
Following Sunday’s 12-9 overtime win against the Chiefs, the question changed a bit. Engram had what was probably the worst game of his short NFL career: He was called for two costly penalties, he dropped a few passes, and he registered just one catch for 9 yards.
“It definitely switched around,” the rookie tight end said of the dynamic between his stats and the team’s results. “[But] I love it. I like this way a lot better.”
Ideally they would be able to go hand-in-hand, but for now, Engram seemed satisfied by the result. Even if it meant an end to his streak of four straight games with a touchdown reception.
“That stuff doesn’t matter to me as long as we get the job done and I go out and do everything I can for my team,” he said. “That’s all that matters.”
Engram might not have provided much in the passing game, but he was a stout blocker and a big reason why fellow rookie Chad Wheeler was able to be so successful in his debut at right tackle. Engram also had a key block on Orleans Darkwa’s 1-yard touchdown run.
“We were really active in the running game today and I took pride in that,” Engram said.
He also provided something else for the team earlier in the week.
“I think it started with 88,” guard D.J. Fluker said of Engram verbally igniting the offense. “Eighty-eight came in with a speech the other day. He was like: ‘We need more energy on the offensive line, we need more energy. We need this.’ I was like: ‘Rookie, OK, I hear you talking, but we have to play for 60 minutes. We have to [pace] ourselves a little bit.’ But he got us fired up. I like that. You don’t have to be an older guy to step up and speak and he did a great job with that.”
Engram was named a captain for the game by Ben McAdoo, who has an affinity for handing responsibility to young players.
“When guys like that step up, it’s like Coach McAdoo says, you don’t have to be a veteran to say anything,” Fluker said. “You can be a rookie and say something. That means a lot. [McAdoo] gives us an opportunity to speak how we feel and that’s a great thing.”
Engram’s play was less great. The Giants had a chance to build on their 6-3 lead late in the third quarter when they mounted a drive from their own 9-yard line. One third-and-7 from the Chiefs’ 31 Manning hit Engram on a pass to the 3, but he was flagged for offensive pass interference, negating the big gain.
“That was a tough one,” he said of the call against him for pushing off defensive back Eric Murray. “DBs have their hands on me and I should be able to be physical back, too,” Engram said. “I don’t agree with the call, but it was tough. That would have been a big play for us . . . I was a little frustrated after that one.”
The Giants wound up turning it over on downs two plays later when Engram dropped a fourth-and-9 pass from Manning. It would have been short of the first down anyway.
That set the Chiefs up at the 33 and they drove for a 31-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to tie it at 6 with 13:30 left in the fourth.
It was a field goal by the Giants, though, that gave Engram the win. Aldrick Rosas’ game-winner in overtime gave the two first-year players just the second taste of victory in their careers.
“It was a great feeling to celebrate,” Engram said. “Just a great feeling.”