An ugly game followed an uplifting ceremony, but in a week that has seen the nation rally around New York, maybe it was only fitting that the Giants emerged with a victory.
Ron Dayne scored the only touchdown of the contest on a seven-yard second-quarter run and Morten Andersen booted a pair of field goals as the Giants posted a 13-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
After traveling to Arrowhead Stadium from the shadows of the leveled World Trade Center, the defending NFC champion Giants used the 1-2 punch of Dayne and Tiki Barber to overcome Kerry Collins' struggles and record their first win of the season.
"We have to keep in mind why we were playing today. Tomorrow we will start new, but today we wanted to play with passion," said Collins. "Today was about playing it the way it should be played. We wanted to make New York proud. We wanted to win to brighten the days of some of those New Yorkers."
Kansas City dropped to 0-2 under new coach Dick Vermeil as it managed a total of 266 yards against a New York defense that struggled in its season-opening loss at Denver.
"The New York Giants are a Super Bowl team and played more like one today," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "I thought if we played plus-turnover football, we would have a real good chance of beating them. We were plus-two and didn't get it done, so I think that shows why they are a Super Bowl football team."
Prior to kickoff, a moment of silence was held in memory of those who were killed and are missing from the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and outside Washington D.C. The Giants know the devestation well, having visited "Ground Zero" in the days after the attacks.
"We saw what that (the devastation) was like, and to have those guys (fireman and policeman) hug you and say we need you to play this game, really was a motivator," Giants wide receiver Joe Jurevicius said.
With the tragedy still on their minds and the knowledge that only 10 teams in the last 10 years that have begun a season with two losses have rallied to make the playoffs, the Giants did just enough to win and level their record.
They were even given a standing ovation by the Chiefs fans prior to kickoff.
"Coming into Kansas City we didn't know what to expect with the fans," Jurevicius said. "But they should be commended. They are Americans too. We were focused, trained hard all week and tried to anticipate what to expect."
The 77,666 in attendance saw only three points in the first quarter. Six plays after a 23-yard punt return by Barber to the Kansas City 35-yard line, Andersen booted a 42-yard field goal to put the Giants ahead just 2:40 into the contest.
Three wasted possessions followed, including a three-and-out by the visitors, but the Giants began to mount a drive towards the tail end of the first period.
Collins, who was picked off three times, hit Jurevicius for a 13-yard gain and found Barber for 11 more yards into Kansas City territory. A 22-yard strike to tight end Dan Campbell covered 22 and Barber raced 13 yards to the 7.
Dayne then took a handoff to the right, got a key block from guard Glenn Parker and barreled his way into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.
The Giants totaled just 89 yards on the ground but seemed to make the key plays to keep drives alive. Dayne carried 16 times for 46 yards, while Barber totaled 33 yards on 12 attempts. Collins was 20-of-34 for 208 yards.
Jurevicious had a big day for the Giants, catching seven passes for 90 yards.
"We wanted to have fun today," said Collins. "Enjoy the game for what it is, a game. And we appreicated the game."
Andersen gave the Giants a 13-0 lead with a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
The only scoring the Chiefs could manage came midway through the third quarter, when Todd Peterson booted a 33-yard field goal.
Kansas City's Trent Green, who had been 2-0 as a starter against New York, suffered through a poor afternoon, completing just 17-of-34 for 184 yards. Tony Richardson led the Chiefs on the ground with 41 yards.
"It was very frustrating," Green said. "I didn't play well at all. I'm not happy with the way I played at all. I feel like I am pressing. I'm trying to make too much stuff happen. I'm trying to be accurate with the ball instead of going out and playing and throwing."