First, the Giants defensive players defended their home turf, defeating the Patriots 10-7 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Then, they defended their defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale, who was the subject of a Fox Sports report shortly before kickoff about supposed tension between him and head coach Brian Daboll.
And finally, in a colorful twist to the entire day that saw the Giants elevate their record to 4-8 with a second consecutive win entering their bye week, Daboll praised his team inside the winning locker room and exalted Martindale, flipping him the game ball and having him break the team down.
This came after Martindale’s defense forced three New England turnovers, which led to all 10 Giants points — one week after the defense forced five turnovers in a win over Washington.
The Fox Sports report stated that Daboll and Martindale were in “a bad place” and speculated that Martindale might not last the rest of the season on Daboll’s staff.
A high-ranking Giants official who spoke to The Post after the game called the report “complete bulls–t.”
Inside the locker room, Giants defensive players concurred, and vociferously stated their allegiance to Martindale. To a man, the players said they sensed zero tension between the two.Wink Martindale calling the Giants’ defense against the Commanders two weeks ago.Bill Kostroun/New York Post
“I was shocked,” cornerback Adoree’ Jackson said of the report. “If they argue over anything, it’s probably for the last piece of food or something. I see them every day. I see their expressions, their body language, their faces. They’re always laughing, having a good time, joking. So, I don’t see it.”
Daboll, in his postgame press conference, professed his “respect” for Martindale and said, “I’d say the biggest argument that Wink and I have had is who has the last piece of pizza. He’s done a good job. He’s a heck of a coach. I’m glad he’s on the staff.”
So, too, are the Giants players.
“We don’t see no hostility between them two,” defensive end Jihad Ward, who had 1.5 sacks Sunday, told The Post. “They love each other. Those guys never have an issue. They’re real close. We love Wink to the fullest. He’s definitely family.”
The Giants’ defense has been playing like family the past two weeks.
Rookie cornerback Deonte Banks got the first turnover when he picked off Patriots quarterback Mac Jones with three seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Then linebacker Bobby Okereke made the play of the game, picking off Jones with 4:27 remaining in the first half and returning the ball 47 yards to the New England 26-yard line. Six plays later, the Giants took a 7-0 lead on a Tommy DeVito scoring pass to Isaiah Hodgins.
The Okereke pick was made possible by a blitzing Isaiah Simmons, who was in Jones’ grill to force the poor throw that landed between the 5 and the 8 on Okereke’s jersey.Giants coach Brian Daboll before his team faced the Patriots on Sunday.Getty Images
Later, on the third play of the fourth quarter, safety Xavier McKinney stepped in front of New England receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a poorly thrown pass by Patriots backup quarterback Bailey Zappe.
That turnover led to a 42-yard field goal by Randy Bullock with 8:10 remaining.
At that moment, there sure didn’t seem like there was a lot of tension between Daboll and Martindale or anyone on the Giants for that matter.
“I don’t even know where that came from,” McKinney said of the report. “We all love each other on this team. We all respect each other. We all got one common goal — we’re trying to win games. We’re all in this together and are a family.”Xavier McKinney celebrates his interception against the Patriots on Sunday.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
McKinney was at the center of a kerfuffle with Martindale three weeks ago when he made some innocuous comments after the Giants 30-6 loss to the Raiders about Martindale not listening to player leadership. Martindale subsequently conceded that McKinney’s comments hurt him.
Daboll, who runs a buttoned-up operation that’s purposely predicated on eliminating outside distractions, was believed to be not happy about Martindale perpetuating the McKinney story by commenting on it. But a team source told The Post that Daboll never even spoke to Martindale about the issue, just letting it go.
Jackson called Martindale “a critical part to our defense.”
“He coaches well, but he also listens to everybody, listens to the things that we as players may want to change throughout the week and even during the game, and that’s cool,” Jackson said.
“Who’s to say it’s hearsay or a rumor?” Okereke said of the Fox report. “I know we show up and have great energy in the locker room and building every day and that’s number one because of our head coach and number two because of our defensive coordinator. Those two do a great job playing off each other and complementing each other.
“I haven’t sensed anything of that [tension] nature. Those two do a great job leading our organization.”