Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – MINNESOTA VIKINGS 24…
The New York Giants upset the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in a Wild Card playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday. The playoff win was the team’s first since the 2011 season. The Giants will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia next Saturday in the divisional round.
In terms of overall team stats, the Giants out-gained the Vikings in first downs (28 to 21), total net yards (431 to 332), net yards rushing (142 to 61), net yards passing (289 to 271), and time of possession (33:36 to 26:24). The Giants were 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) on 3rd-down conversion attempts and 2-of-2 on 4th-down conversion attempts. Neither team turned the ball over.
The Vikings received the football to start the game and easily drove 70 yards in 12 plays, gaining seven first downs, to take an early 7-0 lead. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was 7-of-7 on the drive and finished up the possession with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for the score. Minnesota’s next two possessions resulted in only one first down and two punts.
Not counting their last possession where they started at their own 10-yard line with 45 seconds left, the Giants only had three offensive drives in the first half. Those three possessions resulted in 17 points:
- Five plays, 75 yards, touchdown. After a holding penalty pushed put the Giants in a 1st-and-20 situation to start the drive, quarterback Daniel Jones completed two passes and ran the ball twice for a total of 57 yards. Then running back Saquon Barkley broke off a 28-yard touchdown run around left end.
- Four plays, 81 yards, touchdown. Jones completed a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. After a 4-yard pass to tight end Lawrence Cager and a 16-yard run by Barkley, Jones threw a 14-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins.
- Twenty plays, 85 yards, field goal. Starting at their own 9-yard line, this marathon drive took almost 11 minutes off of the clock. However, a 4-yard touchdown run by Jones was erased due to an illegal shift penalty. New York settled for a 25-yard field goal by kicker Graham Gano.
Despite this offensive success, the Vikings managed to keep the game close with their last possession of the first half by easily driving 75 yards in eight plays to cut the score to 17-14 on Cousin’ 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds left on the clock.
At the break, the Giants led 17-14.
New York’s offensive momentum continued at the start of the 3rd quarter. It took the Giants just six plays to travel 75 yards. Jones completed two passes to Hodgins for 42 yards, Barkley ran for 24 yards, Slayton picked up three yards on an end around, and then Jones threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Bellinger. The Giants were now up 24-14.
Back came Minnesota, however, as on their first possession of the second half they ran eight plays for 75 yards. Cousins threw a 3-yard touchdown to tight end Irv Smith to cut the score to 24-17.
The Giants were finally forced to punt for the first time on their second possession of the half. Cornerback Nick McCloud did create a fumble on the ensuing punt return, but it was recovered by the Vikings. Minnesota then tied the score with a 12-play, 56-yard drive that included an 18-yard completion on 4th-and-2 from the New York 43-yard line. It appeared that the Vikings converted on 4th-and-1 at the 16-yard line, but a false start wiped out the play and Minnesota settled for a 38-yard field goal with 12:34 left in the game.
With the score tied up at 24-24, the Giants began their game-winning, 12-play, 75-yard drive. Jones only completed half of his passes on this possession, but five of his attempts went for 58 yards. He also picked up a critical two yards on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 7-yard line. Barkley finished this possession off with a tough, 2-yard touchdown run to give New York a 31-24 lead with 7:47 to play.
The Giants’ defense forced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Up by a touchdown with 6:12 left in the game, the Giants were able to picked up two first downs, including a very risky 4th-and-1 conversion attempt at their own 45-yard line. Jones gained the needed yard on another tough quarterback sneak and Minnesota was forced to use all three of their time outs to stop the clock. The Giants could have ended it early, but on 3rd-and-15, Slayton dropped a pass from Jones that may have picked up the first down. The Giants punted the ball away with just over three minutes to play.
With 2:56 on the clock, Minnesota got the ball back at their own 12-yard line. On 2nd-and-4, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was flagged with a highly questionable roughing-the-passer penalty. A 13-yard completion then moved the ball to the Minnesota 46-yard line. On 3rd-and-8, cornerback Cor’Dale Flott broke up pass. On 4th-and-8, Cousins’ final pass was completed, but tight end T.J. Hockenson, who killed the Giants for much of the game, was tackled five yards short of the 1st-down marker by safety Xavier McKinney. The Giants then knelt on the ball to seal the win.
Jones finished the game 24-of-35 for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions (114.1 quarterback rating). He also ran the ball 17 times for 78 yards, including two 4th-and-1 conversions. His leading target was Hodgins, who caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Barkley carried the ball nine times for 53 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Giants did not sack Cousins, but they officially hit him 11 times. Four of those were by Dexter Lawrence. The Giants were also credited with five tackles for losses, including two by cornerback Darnay Holmes. Vikings’ All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson was held to seven catches for 47 yards.
GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.
PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated (standard elevation) RB Jashaun Corbin and WR Kalil Pimpleton from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.
Inactive for the game were RB Jashaun Corbin, WR Kalil Pimpleton, OG Jack Anderson, OG Wyatt Davis, DL Henry Mondeaux, ILB Micah McFadden, and CB Rodarius Williams.
LB Azeez Ojulari (quad contusion) and S Jason Pinnock (abdomen) left the game and did not return. Pinnock was taken to the hospital, but later returned to the locker room and said he was “good.”
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media on Monday. The players are off on Monday.