The Giants were carved and shredded, 26-6. The Broncos made them look silly.
When there was a battle between receiver and defensive back, the Broncos won it. When there was a tussle to see which team would win the bruising running game, the Broncos won that, too. You pick it, Denver dominated it.
Denver (7-4) had lost four straight games coming into Thursday, while the Giants (6-5) had snapped a four-game losing streak last Sunday when they beat Atlanta. This drubbing came out of the blue, according to Giants coach Tom Coughlin. He looked puzzled, hurt over his team being pushed around as if every one of his players were on roller skates.
The Giants gained three first downs in the first half, 38 total yards and trailed 16-0 at halftime. By game's end, the Broncos had outrushed the Giants 138 yards to 57, and had forced three Giants turnovers.
The effort came after the Broncos players had called a players-only meeting earlier this week.
"It was a real powerful meeting,'' said Broncos cornerback Ty Law, who played in his 200th regular season game, only the 11th NFL cornerback to do so. "You know, I just got here (Law signed as a free agent prior to Week 9), so, I didn't know if I should speak up. But then I figured, I've earned the right to speak in this league whenever I want and I am always going to call it like I see it. I think we were doing a lot of talking on the field in the last few games and we decided to cut that.
"You have to play your way to where you want to go in this league. A lot of times you have a clear-the-air meeting like that and it goes through one ear and out of the other, especially with younger players. It looked like it stuck. We came out with passion and energy -- and together, in one single effort, where we were more punishing.''
Maybe a Giants players-only pow-wow is in order now.
The Broncos set out to contain New York receiver Steve Smith, who finished with 71 receiving yards, and tight end Kevin Boss, who had just 22. They were intent on mauling the Giants running game. And quarterback Eli Manning would not be allowed to sit in the pocket -- the plan was to keep his feet moving, rush him, hit him, make him uneasy. Manning was sacked three times and did not throw a touchdown pass.
The Broncos outplayed the Giants individually and collectively. Brandon Marshall made a couple of stellar one-handed grabs on the Giants secondary, and Brandon Stokley scored on a 17-yard catch early in the fourth quarter -- on the play, he was the third receiver stacked to the right, came out of that cluster and did not find a single Giant near him for most of his catch-and-trot into the end zone.
What is alarming about this game for the Giants is the lack of physical play, the way they were outhit for four quarters. Even though the Giants won the third quarter, 6-0, the staple of this game was the way safety Brian Dawkins, linebackers D.J. Williams and Elvis Dumervil, offensive tackle Ryan Clady and so many other Broncos laid the wood on the Giants.
That is supposed to be the Giants calling card.
Coughlin said his team has been talking about this for some time now, how they are becoming a team that is toying with a primary ingredient that has long made the franchise special.
He said everyone involved with the Giants thought this was "going to be the night [they returned to that style], but it wasn't.''
This is a huge concern for the Giants, because it has now happened too many times this season. They have had too many games where, physically, they were simply shoved aside. Their line play on both sides has become inefficient.
"This just isn't us at all, to play this way,'' said cornerback Terrell Thomas, who made a third-quarter interception, six tackles and was one of the few Giants who rose his game to match the Broncos. "It was Thanksgiving night and we picked this game to show the nation watching that Giants football was back. And then we didn't even bother to show up. I don't know, we just didn't play Giants defense or offense.
"We've got some things to figure out.''
The Broncos can advise them on the blueprint -- it is not all about talk. It is about passion and energy and commitment. About attention to detail and desire.
All things the Broncos found in ending their ugly four-game slide.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels offered timely perspective.
"We don't have guys that get down,'' he said. "The last four weeks in our building haven't been a funeral. We have great work ethic, great resolve. You want to put yourself in position after Thanksgiving to be able to compete to make the playoffs and that's what we hopefully have done. We have to play well from now on out, and we know that's the situation that every team is in, and we are embracing that situation.''