ARLINGTON, Texas - Victor Cruz delivered some inspiring words to his teammates before Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Unfortunately, the Giants couldn't deliver for their fallen teammate.
Cruz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week's 27-0 loss in Philadelphia, taped a message that was played during a team meeting the day before they faced the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The coaches and players were inspired by his words, but it wasn't enough to carry them against the Cowboys, who beat the Giants, 31-21, to maintain their grip on first place in the NFC East with a 6-1 record. The Giants fell to 3-4.
"[Cruz] kind of went through each position and told us to go out there and give our all, give everything we had," quarterback Eli Manning said. "He's still part of this team and he's still part of this season. He's a leader of this team, so we get to still have his presence around. It will be good."
The Giants' receiving corps now is without its best player, leaving Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. as the top two receiving threats. Beckham had two touchdown catches against the Cowboys.
"It was great just to see Vic in good spirits," Beckham said of the video. "It's unfortunate for him, but for us to be able to see him strong like that, it gives me strength, I know for sure. It's one thing we always said, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' Yes, we are. We're all playing for Vic. He goes down and that's a guy who we all look up to. Even outside of this team, other people look up to Vic. It's hard to watch something like that. But for him to be in good spirits and have some strength behind him, it's encouraging for us."
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said Cruz's speech was moving.
"It was emotional to see him in that position because he's been such a strong contributor for this team, not just on the field but in the locker room," Kiwanuka said. "I feel like everybody drew a little bit from that. But for whatever reason, we didn't give him a victory, so we feel bad about that."
Kiwanuka said Cruz's speech was "very well thought out, prepared and motivational, inspirational. He expressed [thoughts to] everyone. No one was left out. Everyone got a shout-out. He was in the training room, and that's a situation that the majority of us have been in. You understand what he's going through and it's tough to see."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin also was moved by Cruz's words.
"I'm sure the guys took it to heart," he said.
Then again, he said it shouldn't have taken much for his team to be motivated to play a good game against the Cowboys.
"I don't know how much motivation you need after the week before [against the Eagles]," Coughlin said. "If you're a competitor, you're going to do something about it."