EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Brian Daboll responded to a report that his relationship with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is in a "bad place" by rewarding him with a game ball following a defense-fueled 10-7 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported earlier in the day that the tension between the two is palpable to those in the building and it wouldn't be surprising if they eventually parted ways. Glazer even suggested it could happen during the season.

Daboll rejected the premise in his postgame news conference after Martindale's defense forced three turnovers and set up all 10 of the Giants' points.

"The biggest argument that Wink and I have had is who has the last piece of pizza," Daboll said. "Have a lot of respect for Wink. He's done a good job. Leave it at that."

He then added: "I've got a lot of respect for Wink. He's a heck of a coach. I'm glad he's on the staff."

This came just moments after Daboll presented Martindale with the game ball and had him break down the team in the postgame locker room following a second straight win.

Martindale was hired as the Giants' defensive coordinator last year after 10 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. New York made the playoffs in the first season with Daboll and Martindale on staff.

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This season has been rocky, however. The Giants (4-8) have struggled offensively, which has put tremendous pressure on Martindale's defense. That has contributed to straining the relationship, a source told ESPN.

Daboll and Martindale have opposite approaches, which is evident on a weekly basis on the sideline. Daboll is an emotional firecracker who on multiple occasions has been seen ripping into players and coaches on the sideline. Martindale is intentionally stoic. He tries to remain calm and confident in difficult situations and demands the same in return.

It was noted during a recent game against the Cowboys that Daboll and Martindale were having an extended conversation heading into halftime that continued when they came out onto the field following the break. The pair downplayed that incident as well.

It came on the heels of safety Xavier McKinney's comments the previous week following a 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. McKinney said he didn't think the leaders of the team were being heard.

Martindale was hurt by the intimation, in part because he has worked hard to create an open and honest environment.

"It hurts the defensive room when you say something like that," Martindale said.

McKinney wasn't disciplined for his comments. He broke down the team before the following week's game and was hand-selected by Daboll to break it down last week after the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak.

This did not go unnoticed in the Giants building.

New York's defense has experienced ups and downs during this turbulent season. But the unit has forced nine turnovers in the past two weeks. Martindale's defense has allowed 15.3 points in the team's four wins this season.

Several key defensive players insisted they haven't witnessed any rift between their coordinator and head coach.

"I was shocked," veteran cornerback Adoree' Jackson said. "Like I said, if they're arguing over anything it's probably the last piece of food. They don't get into it. I see them every day. I see their expressions, their body language, their faces. They're always laughing, having a good time, joking. It was shocking to hear that."

If there were eventually a divorce between Martindale and the Giants, it would be seen as a loss in the locker room. Martindale routinely gets rave reviews from his defensive players.

"We love him -- we love him to the fullest," said veteran defensive end Jihad Ward, who came from Baltimore with Martindale last year. "He's definitely family. We can't do nothing without him."