Colt McCoy comes through for Giants after long road back

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The easy thing for Colt McCoy to do would have been to reconnect with old friends and settle into a comfortable job as the backup quarterback for the Jaguars or Rams.

But nothing about what he had just endured — a grueling year-plus-long rehab from a broken femur — was easy, so why take that path in free agency? McCoy was intrigued and maybe a little flattered that the Giants — a team with which he had no ties to the coaches, front office or playbook — wanted to sign him, so he made the difficult choice to start fresh at age 34.

A decision made in March paid dividends for all parties Sunday: The Giants received trustworthy play in an emergency situation to move into first place in the NFC East, and McCoy felt the thrill to justify his hard work.

“I try to live in the moment,” McCoy said after beating the Cincinnati Bengals. “This locker room was extremely excited afterwards. We work so hard, and I didn’t want to let anybody down in here.

“I think I’ll reflect on that at some point: It was obviously a really tough thing to go through and I think it was a lot worse than what everybody outside of me and my family knew, but to be standing here and playing a half of football, I’m excited for it.”

Colt McCoy
Colt McCoyGetty Images

McCoy shattered his leg above the ankle on Dec. 3, 2018 — just weeks after Washington teammate Alex Smith’s horrific injury that almost required leg amputation. McCoy rushed back on Oct. 6, 2019, to try to rescue Washington from a winless start but clearly wasn’t healthy and did not return to the field again until Giants starter Daniel Jones injured his right hamstring in the third quarter.

“He managed the game well and made some big-time throws in some tough situations,” coach Joe Judge said. “We benefit a lot defensively from having Colt run the [scout-team] offense against us on a weekly basis, and I think he benefits from seeing a lot of competition at practice. No one gives our defense bigger headaches than Colt. He’s out there to win.”

McCoy finished 6 of 10 for 31 yards, including two completions on third-and-longs and another on second-and-long, and finished three possessions leading to field goals. His final throw to Wayne Gallman would’ve sealed the win but the Giants were flagged for holding, forcing the defense to make one more stop.

“I’m always going to be ready to play, but I hate it for D.J.,” McCoy said. “You never know when these situations pop up. I work hard in practice and I know my teammates have confidence in me, and I just tried to go out there and secure the win for us.”

Judge is “optimistic” Jones will be able to play next week. If Jones can’t, the Giants will have an injury fill-in starter for just the second time since 2003 — Eli Manning made two starts in place of Jones last season — and McCoy’s experience is a luxury. He has played in 41 career games with 28 starts.

“He’s huge for us during the week of preparation,” tight end Evan Engram said. “He’s so smart and I know he helps D.J. a lot — and even gives us receivers a lot of details and things to help us with offense. We never blinked.”