EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When it comes to winning football games, Tom Coughlin isn’t afraid to get out of his comfort zone.
With his team feeling the pressure of a second straight 0-2 start and many worried about another 0-6 debacle, Coughlin did the unexpected with his players this week.
He played music at practice that his players liked, had a punt catching competition and got his players to relax. It worked.
Rashad Jennings ran for a career-best 176 yards and a touchdown, Eli Manning threw two touchdowns and the Giants’ defense recorded their first three takeaways of the season in a 30-17 victory over the Houston Texans on Sept. 21.
“He is aggressive at trying to make adjustments to get this team focused and to get this team motivated,” Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said of the 68-year-old Coughlin.
“This group reacted to that. Maybe groups in the past would not have gotten it done but he got it done for this group and I respect him for being able to change with the team.”
After two dismal performances, the Giants dominated in the first half, taking a 14-0 lead on Manning’s 26-yard TD to Victor Cruz and a 1-yard run by Jennings. Josh Brown added three field goals and Manning (21 of 28 for 234 yards) threw a 9-yard touchdown to Daniel Fells in the second half.
“It’s always great to win,” said Coughlin, who team will face Washington on Thursday night. “I wish we would have won a couple weeks ago and kept it going but we won today, let’s just be happy with that for now.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 44-yard scoring pass to Damaris Johnson and ran for another score for the Texans (2-1), who played without halfback Arian Foster (hamstring). Fitzpatrick completed 20 of 34 for 289 yards but he threw his first three interceptions of the season.
“You play bad defense, you are going to get beat,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “That is what happened today, we played bad football and we got beat.” The Texans came into the game with an NFL-best plus 5 turnover ratio. They were minus 2 against the Giants.
(TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer)