On a night when the New York Giants were honoring four new inductees into the team’s Ring of Honor, the current 53-man roster had a special plan of its own to honor yet another member of the franchise’s family.
That member is tight end Daniel Fells, a 32-year-old journeyman placed on season-ending injured reserve last week after being diagnosed with a MRSA infection.
According to a report by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Fells contracted the deadly staph strain when he had a cortisone injection to help expedite his ailing ankle and toe, an act of selflessness in which Fells put his body at risk in order to try to help his team work its way out of an 0-2 start.
The outcome, as is known now, wasn’t good. Fells, who played in Week 3 despite his gimpy ankle, had hoped to make it back for the Week 4 game against the Buffalo Bills, only to have the infection pop up.
Hospitalized since Oct. 2, Fells, whom Rapoport also reported was in danger of losing his foot, sent a heartfelt tweet to his teammates about 90 minutes prior to Sunday's kickoff:
His teammates delivered—and boy, did they deliver.
Already down several key players before kickoff due to injury, such as receiver Victor Cruz (calf), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), the Giants would lose linebacker Jon Beason (concussion) and receivers Rueben Randle (hamstring) and Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) before the night was out.
“The other guys made plays, and I’m happy about that,” head coach Tom Coughlin said after the game.
“I told them in the locker room that it took every guy in order to secure the win. People were playing and getting pushed into roles that they hadn’t been in before, and I think that’s a real sign of a team.”
While little-known names like receivers Geremy Davis and Myles White were getting it done for Randle and Beckham, Uani' Unga and Mark Herzlich were working things out for Kennard and Beason. Dwayne Harris overcame a rough first half that saw two dropped passes, while the big boys also did their part.
Quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball a whopping 54 times, completing 41 of those throws for 441 yards, three touchdowns and one interception that came when he was doing what he usually does best: trying to engineer a play when the team needed one.
The biggest play, though, came on a pass to, of all people, a tight end, that being Larry Donnell, whose 12-yard reception with 21 seconds left on the game clock snatched a win for the high-flying Giants.
The irony of Donnell being the recipient of the game-winning touchdown was not lost on Coughlin, who awarded the game ball to Fells and his family.
“That was some football game tonight, and to have a guy from [the tight ends meeting room] go up there and make the catch at the end of the game was just incredible,” he said.
“It definitely felt great for Daniel,” Donnell said. “But just in general, it was good to win the football game and get another victory.”
While football is not nearly on the same level as what Fells, whom Coughlin said is starting to make progress in his battle, is experiencing, that the Giants were able to draw inspiration from Fells in his fight shows just how far this team has come together in terms of bonding, which is the first step in setting the stage for bigger and better things to come.
Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.
Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.