The Giants' leadership has been in question since their embarrassing loss at Indianapolis, but in a week leading up to the unveiling of the club's new Ring of Honor, a couple of their former leaders, Michael Strahan and Jessie Armstead were only too happy to offer their thoughts to a team portrayed by some as rudderless.
Strahan visited in the middle of the practice week and spoke to the defense and the running backs, and head coach Tom Coughlin showed the video for the Ring of Honor ceremony covering the team's history at the pre-game meeting on Saturday night and then asked Armstead, who was one of the inductees, to address the team. The result was a team that was unified and motivated when it hit the field against the Bears.
The defense had 10 sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery, and the offense rushed for 189 yards and controlled the ball for 33:25. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 129 of those yards in the first 100-yard game by a Giants back since Bradshaw did it in Week 5 last season.
Describing Strahan's speech, Bradhsaw said: "He told us we've got to love the game and use the passion and the heart we have and put it out there every game. He happened to come in this week and give everybody a pep talk and fired everybody up. Also, Jessie Armstead gave us our Saturday night speech and got everybody fired up. We all knew we were going to win."
Defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka missed the game because of a bulging cervical disc in his neck. After the game, he told reporters that's he's hopeful of returning possibly as soon as the next game, and he stressed the importance of the speeches by Strahan and Armstead to helping unify the team.
"When you realize people have played for eighty-something years around here, bleeding blue, we can't keep putting that kind of [bad] stuff out there because everybody is watching," Kiwanuka said. "We want them to be proud. A lot of things were said, but it was just the history of it. When you go over the overall history, it's bigger than us, bigger than the group that Strahan had, it's bigger than the guys before them. This goes back a long time…I think at one point, enough is enough. This is how we play football."
Offensive tackle David Diehl only got to hear Armstead's speech with the rest of the team, but he said the message resonated with everyone in the room. "For tonight, we were playing not only for a win but for the honor of this organization," Diehl said. "We had 22 [players inducted to Ring of Honor plus eight coaches and executives] guys that have laid their hearts and souls out there on the field for this organization and have paved the way for us to be out there and made this organization what it is.
"We owed it to them to go out there and play with determination. Regardless of what was going to happen, we were going to sell out and play for 60 minutes and do whatever it takes to win the football game. It was awesome. It was a great inspiration for us."