NY Giants coach Joe Judge picked up his first win, the game-ball, and an impromptu post-game shower from his players after beating Washington
For much of Sunday’s game, it seemed neither the NY Giants or the Washington Football Team had any interest in winning, but thanks to two critical defensive plays, first-year Giants head coach Joe Judge left MetLife Stadium Sunday with his first career victory.
Judge also took home the game ball from his team’s 20-19 win.
It’s almost fitting, that the head coach who promised an old-school, “blue collar” football team’s first victory would be delivered by the defense. It took linebacker Kyler Fackrell stripping quarterback Kyle Allen and rookie Tae Crowder returning the fumble for the touchdown, and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence saving the day by making a huge play on a failed Washington two-point conversion attempt with :36 remaining that would have turned a thrilling victory into yet another heartbreaker.
Meanwhile, NY Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was far from stellar through the air, completing just 12-of-19 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he felt the need to make sure Judge understood exactly what he and his teammates think of their coach.
“It was an exciting moment in the locker room with everyone,” Jones said after the game. “We battled these first five weeks, hadn’t gotten the result we all hoped for so to get it was thrilling and it was Coach’s first win so it was a lot of fun to do that. We were able to give him the game ball and rightfully so, he deserves it.”
Judge’s immediate thoughts were with his players, and soaking in the moment, but shortly thereafter, it hit home just how much this win would have meant to his late father, Joseph, who molded much of the Giants’ coach’s football path serving as Joe’s CYO coach after playing at Temple and the CFL. Joseph Judge passed away in July, 2017, but wasn’t far from his son’s mind after Sunday’s pivotal win.
“With a couple text messages I received when I went to my locker, yes,” Judge said, of when his thoughts turned to his father. “The short answer to your question is yes, I did. That’s obviously a big part of a lot of things that I do, but really the emotion on the sideline was just joy for the players. To see them smiling, to see them rewarded for their hard work, that’s really what you play for.”
Earlier, cornerback James Bradberry intercepted Washington quarterback Kyle Allen which set up a first half Jones touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. Two hours after he pulled down his second interception of the season, Bradberry pulled off a memorable moment in the postgame celebration.
“We might have poured a little water on a little bit just to celebrate,” Bradberry said. “We were just happy to get the win. There was a lot of celebration going on in there. It was a happy moment.”
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams hasn’t experienced much winning during his career with the Giants and Jets, but believes the Giants might be building something.
“It was special,” Williams said. “It’s not like we won the playoffs, we still have a lot of work to do. No bragging rights or anything like that. We finally got that win under our belt. It was nice to see guys smiling in the locker room after putting in that much hard work. We kind of got tired of going into the locker room and seeing sad faces in the locker room. It goes to show everyone was happy for Coach Judge.”
While no one is getting carried away over the Giants picking up victory No. 1 against an opponent with just one win this season and just four victories over the past two seasons, this week presents an opportunity for the Giants to build some momentum against a very beatable Eagles team Thursday night in the third consecutive game against hapless NFC East division rivals.
Save for Judge himself, no one is more instrumental in the Giants’ turning around the fortunes of a franchise that has now won just 10 of its last 29 games, with four of those victories coming over Washington than Jones.
Jones understands what’s in front of this team at the moment.
“The approach is to build on the good and correct the bad,” Jones said. “Today, it was good to get the result, to do enough to get the win. We know we got to keep improving and keep moving forward as a team. I think guys understand that, and that’s how we’re going to build on this one and keep it going.”
Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.