There was music - certainly not from the 68-year-old coach's era - at practice. A punt catching competition was held and there were some laughs. It turned to smiles and a W on Sunday against the Houston Texans with some old-fashioned football.
The victory not only put some life back into the Giants (1-2), it also ended any chance of a second straight 0-6 start for Coughlin's team, which has missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
"It's good to get that first win," said Manning, who was 21 of 28 for 234 yards and no interceptions. "We didn't want to go through (0-6) again. The coaches and everybody didn't get too uptight. With coach keeping his cool, bringing a little excitement to practice, it helped the players just relax. We said: 'It's Sunday. Just go play football. Don't worry about being perfect or doing everything exactly. Just play the game you love.'"
Manning joked about the music played on Friday.
"We just stole it off Coach Coughlin's iPad," he said. "You know, early '90s rap."
"This was huge for us, knowing we had to get this game and get this one under our belts with a short week and not wanting to look ahead," said Cruz, who quipped that he had to remember how to salsa after his score. "We had to take care of this one and get ready for Washington (Thursday night)."
Houston came in tied for the league lead with a plus-5 turnover differential. The Giants were at the other end of the spectrum at minus-6 with no takeaways.
"We're not going to win any games when I play like that, especially in the first half with the turnovers," said Fitzpatrick, who was 20 of 34 for 289 yards. "Sometimes interceptions happen, but it was just poor play by me."
Houston added to its woes early in the third quarter, going for a first down on a fourth-and-1 from its own 46 and failing.
Brown hit a 39-yard field goal to make it 17-0 before Houston rallied behind Fitzpatrick. Three passes to DeAndre Hopkins set up a field goal, and Johnson's TD closed the gap to 17-10 with 2:13 left in the quarter.
Jennings, who carried 34 times, had three rushes for 28 yards as the Giants drove for a field goal to extend the lead to 20-10 early in the fourth.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Fitzpatrick on the next series, setting up Brown's final field goal.
NOTES: Jennings' previous career high was 150 yards vs. Houston last season while playing for Oakland. ... The Texans had not allowed a sack in their first two games. The Giants got two and had five quarterback hurries. ... Jameel McClain, who replaced Jon Beason at middle linebacker had a team-high 11 tackles and half a sack. ... New Jersey native Brian Cushing had a game-high 17 tackles. ... J.J. Watt had a sack and two tackles for losses. ... Alfred Blue had 78 yards on 13 carries, starting for Foster. ... Prince Amukamara also had an interception for New York. ... Johnathan Joseph had a fumble recovery for the Texans.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press