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Giants Q&A: Who stepped up as leader with Beckham, Ogletree out?

Scott Simonson #82 of the New York Giants

Scott Simonson #82 of the New York Giants celebrates with is team after scoring a touchdown in the game against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

The Giants were without some of their most vocal leaders. Alec Ogletree and Odell Beckham Jr. were back in New Jersey with injuries. So who provided the emotional spark that those two usually give by breaking down the team after warmups?

Second-year tight end Evan Engram, who figured it was time to step into a more visible leadership role.

“I’ve always been a vocal guy and I just kind of had something on my mind today,” he said. “We have other leaders who could have done the same thing. I was just in the moment and tried to get the guys going.”

What was on Engram’s mind?

“We had some key guys down today on all phases of the ball, and it was a big day for some guys to step up as leaders, as playmakers, as teammates,” Engram said. “I just wanted to get guys fired up and let them know that we have a job to do today.”

Did Engram carry that spark over to the game?

Yes. He caught six passes for 87 yards and carried it twice for 26. Twice he was tackled at the 1 to set up a touchdown. “He was very productive for us,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He has really come on here in the latter part of the season. Very explosive guy . . . He is back healthy and he is having an impact on the game.”

How close did the Giants need to get on their final drive to give their Pro Bowl kicker a chance to win the game?

Shurmur wouldn’t say, but Aldrick Rosas was driving home kicks from 63 yards with room to spare in warmups. So maybe he would have tried a 65-yarder? To set that up, the Giants would have had to get just across midfield to the 47. Rosas, though, has spent the season not thinking about things such as distances or situations . . . to his great benefit. “At this point, if I’m out there and we need it, I’m going to just give it my best to get it,” Rosas said. “If I start looking at numbers and stuff like that, it’s just going to get in my head.”

Had Rosas ever met Adam Vinatieri before Sunday?

No, and it was a great thrill for him to chat with the future Hall of Fame kicker before the game.

Vinatieri will turn 46 Friday. “His first year in the league was 1996 and I was born in 1994, so I’ve seen him my whole life,” Rosas said. “That was kind of a dream to see him in person and play against him and be on the same field as him.”

So did Rosas get Vinatieri’s jersey after the game?

No. He swapped shirts with Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez, with whom he grew up  in Northern California. The two opposing specialists played on the same club soccer teams when they were kids. “I’ve known him since elementary school,” Rosas said. “That was real special.”

Can Saquon Barkley still win the rushing title this season?

Probably not. After lackluster back-to-back games, he has 1,198 rushing yards this season. That’s third-most in the NFL. Todd Gurley of the Rams did not play on Sunday while nursing an injury and is at 1,251. Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL with 1,434 after gaining 85 in Dallas’ division-clinching win. Even if Elliott does not play Sunday against the Giants, Barkley would need 236 rushing yards just to tie him atop the list.

Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard said he wanted to make 40 tackles against the Giants. Did he come close?

He missed by 31.

Did Evan Brown get in the game?

The Giants’ rookie center was activated for only the second time this season, but no, he did not take the field for any snaps. He made the team out of training camp, but he and quarterback Alex Tanney remain the only players who have been on the roster the entire season without having set foot on the field.

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