Giants outlast Vikings 31-24 for 1st Playoff win in 11 years
First-year head coach Brian Daboll had his upstart team fully prepared. Daniel Jones played at a level well beyond his experience. The New York Giants came confidently into Minnesota’s raucous stadium and beat the tight finish masters at their own game. Jones passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards in his first career playoff game for the Giants in a 31-24 wild-card round victory on Sunday that gave the Vikings their first loss in 12 one-score games this season.
Saquon Barkley rushed for two scores, including the tiebreaker midway through the fourth quarter. Jones became the first quarterback in NFL history to hit these thresholds in a postseason game: 300-plus yards passing, two-plus passing touchdowns and 70-plus yards rushing. The defense finished off the franchise’s first playoff win since the Super Bowl 11 years ago by swarming tight end T.J. Hockenson at midfield after a 3-yard reception from Kirk Cousins on fourth-and-8 to force a turnover on downs with 1:44 to go and no timeouts left for the Vikings. The Giants advanced to play No. 1 seed and NFC East rival Philadelphia in the divisional round next Saturday night. They converted seven of 13 third downs and had their way with a Vikings defense that has been vulnerable all season, averaging 8.3 yards per play in the first half.
Cousins went 31 for 39 for 273 yards and two scores and a rushing touchdown to cap the game’s opening possession. “There was always belief. I think that’s why it hurts, because you expect to find a way, especially the way this team has gone all year,” said Cousins, who called this “probably the toughest loss” of his 11-year career after going an NFL-record 11-0 in one-score games in the regular season. Five years and one day after Case Keenum’s 61-yard last-play touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings a 29-24 victory over New Orleans in the divisional round, Cousins finally got a postseason game in Minnesota in his fifth season with the team. The Vikings stayed true to how their season has played out by facing 10-point deficits late in the second quarter and again early in the third quarter. Cousins delivered all kinds of on-target throws that brought the Vikings within 24-21.
Then came the unusual, the defense got a stop. Danielle Hunter’s sack forced the first Giants punt, and the Vikings went the other way for the tying field goal. They left behind some crucial points though, when Cousins ran a successful sneak on fourth-and-1 at the 15 that was negated by a false start. Jones converted a penalty-free fourth-and-1 sneak on the next drive for the Giants. Barkley chugged into the end zone for the lead with 7:47 to go. You have to give the Giants a lot of credit as they emerged victorious from this game. They look to be building something great in New York. As for the Vikings, another year ending in another disappointment.