EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Move over, Riverboat Ron.
That's right; there's a new high-roller among the head coaching ranks, New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo. His gamble on a key fourth-down play early in the fourth quarter resulted in quarterback Eli Manning connecting with receiver Sterling Shepard for the game-winning touchdown that gave the Giants a 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
"We were down by six. It's tough to move the ball against that defense," McAdoo said in explaining his decision to go for it. "It's a good defense. I have confidence in our offense and I have confidence in the way we prepare and practice for the green zone. I thought we had a good plan. I liked our stack there."
McAdoo, who has not been afraid to take similar risks, said his decision was aided by seeing how well the team came through in practice leading up to the game.
"I liked our week of preparation down there. That's first and foremost. If we didn't practice well down there, we would've kicked the field goal," he said.
"The play calls we had down there I was comfortable with and confident in. I just let him know ahead of time. When it's goal to go on the 9 and it's tough sledding, you have to find some completions and get a little bit closer to give yourself a chance. I thought Eli played it well and everyone did a nice job on that fourth-down call."
The decision certainly went over well with members of the offense, who were glad to contribute a big play of their own rather than leave it to the defense to carry them through to the end.
That the Giants' offense was able to have more plays (72) than the defense (55) was huge, and it was due, in part, to McAdoo's trust in his offense.
"I think it is just knowing the situation at hand," said receiver Odell Beckham Jr. "(McAdoo) gives us another opportunity to get another play on offense; we have got to do it. It is just something that needs to be done. We came up big on a couple of them today, so I don't mind him going for it at all."
PASSING OFFENSE: C
RUSHING OFFENSE: B+
PASS DEFENSE: A-
RUSH DEFENSE: A
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Take away the two big returns -- an 18-yard punt return and an 84-yard kickoff return by Alex Erickson -- and the Giants' special teams turned in another solid performance despite not winning the starting field position battle. Punter Brad Wing dropped two more punts inside the 20, continuing his fine showing of directional kicking. Punt returner Bobby Rainey breathed some life into the punt return game after Dwayne Harris exited because of a toe injury. Rainey averaged 10.7 yards per return on three returns and made better decisions regarding when to let the ball bounce and when to field it.
Things might have been very different if Ben McAdoo's decision to go for it on fourth down had resulted in a failed attempt. However, it didn't and because of his gutsy call and confidence in his offense, the Giants squeaked out the one-point victory while keeping pace with the rest of the NFC East. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo threw in a few new wrinkles this week that successfully unnerved Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The gist of those wrinkles was to make Dalton think he had less time to throw the ball than he did. Dalton completed just 55 percent of his pass attempts, often rushing his throws.