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5 Things We Learned

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5 things we learned in Week 16 loss


The Giants traveled to Minnesota for a Christmas Eve matchup against the Vikings.

It was a back-and-forth affair, but a 61-yard field goal by Vikings kicker Greg Joseph as time expired handed the Giants a tough 27-24 loss.

The loss brings the Giants' record to 8-6-1 with two games remaining. The Giants' playoff hopes were aided by some of the other outcomes around the league as both the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions lost as well.

The Giants head back home for a New Year's Day contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

Here are five things we learned in the Week 16 loss.

1. Giants lose at last second

Similar to the beginning of the season, the Giants came back from an early 10-point deficit to take the lead over the Vikings in the second half. After Minnesota took a 24-16 lead with three minutes remaining, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley led the Giants on a quick seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a touchdown and took less than a minute. After a successful two-point conversion, the two teams were tied with 2:01 left. But the Vikings were able to get the ball into field goal range, where Greg Joseph connected on a career-long 61-yard kick as the clocks struck zero to give the Vikings the win.

"Tough game," Daboll said. "Give them credit. They made a few more plays than we did. You have two turnovers, a blocked punt, to be in the game at the end of the game, the guys were resilient, but you can't have those mistakes. The fumble took away three points, interception took away at least three points, that's minimum, and then we give the ball back to them in our end zone or in our territory where they hit (Justin) Jefferson there. We got him doubled, but he makes a good play, and they made the plays they needed to to win the game, so give them credit. Long field goal, it was a good kick by the kicker."

The Giants have an extra day to recover from the loss, as they take on the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The 4-9-1 Colts will face off against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football this week.

2. Jones tops 300 yards

For just the second time this season, Daniel Jones topped the 300-yard mark as he finished with 334 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Not only did Jones have a lot of production through the air, but he was also efficient doing it. The fourth-year quarterback completed 71.4 percent of his passes on his way to his second-highest yardage total of the season. He finished with a 92.8 passer rating.

While he did not use his legs often on Saturday, Jones was successful when he did decide to run with the football. The signal-caller carried the ball just four times but gained 34 yards, good for an average of 8.5 yards per carry. On the final scoring drive, Jones made a big completion to Darius Slayton for 32 yards and added an eight-yard run. After a touchdown brought the Vikings' lead down to two, Jones scrambled away from pressure on the two-point conversion until he found Daniel Bellinger in the back of the end zone.

"It was a lot of back and forth," the quarterback said after the game. "I thought we executed well at times and moved the ball well and then stalled out a couple key situations that can't afford to have happen going forward, and then obviously the kick at the end was tough. But credit to them; they played well. Big-time play at the end."

3. Saquon breaks out

Following a rough patch in the middle of the season, Saquon Barkley put together his second consecutive strong outing. Barkley needed just 14 rush attempts to gain 84 yards, with his 6.0 yards per carry average being the second-highest of the season and his most since the season opener. The 25-year-old running back made one of the plays of the game for the Giants when he took the ball on a fourth-and-two late in the fourth quarter and busted loose for a 27-yard touchdown run to bring the Giants within two. His 90 yards were the most he's gained since he rushed for 152 yards against the Houston Texans in Week 10.

Barkley also contributed to the offense's 445 total yards with his top receiving game of the season. The fifth-year back was tied with a team-high eight receptions that went for 49 yards, both of which were season-highs.

View photos from the Giants' Week 16 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

4. Defense struggles to contain Cousins; Ojulari hurt

The Big Blue defense came into this game struggling in recent weeks with their run defense. While the Vikings did average 4.4 yards per carry in this one, they were held to just 83 rushing yards. However, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins made up for the run game's lack of production.

Cousins completed over 70 percent of his passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Giants knew it would be a challenge to contain star wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Despite the third-year receiver remaining quiet for much of the first half, he exploded in the final two quarters and finished with 12 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson also made the big 17-yard catch to put the Vikings in range for Joseph's game-winning field goal. Almost all of the rest of Cousins' passing yardage went to tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught 13 passes for 109 yards and two scores.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari extended his sacks streak to five games when he took down Cousins in the second quarter. However, he later departed with an ankle injury and was ruled out after halftime. The Giants finished with four sacks, the other three coming from Jaylon Smith, Landon Collins and Leonard Williams.

It appeared as if Cor'Dale Flott came down with his first career interception in the third quarter. However, after the play was reviewed, it was ruled an incomplete pass. The Vikings would go on to score a touchdown on that drive.

The Giants held the Vikings to 353 total yards, the fewest an opponent has gained against the Giants since the Week 11 loss to Detroit (325 yards).

5. Hodgins has career game

Injuries have devastated the Giants at several positions this season, but none more so than wide receiver. However, the injuries have led to opportunities for other players, including Isaiah Hodgins.

Hodgins had the best game of his young NFL career on Saturday as he caught eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. It marked the third game in which he has caught a touchdown in the last four games. His eight receptions were matched two other players for the most on the Giants, while his 89 yards came one yard shy for the most on the team. In seven games with the Giants, Hodgins has now registered 29 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think he does a really good job," Jones said about Hodgins. "He's where you expect him to be, and he does a good job getting open and making plays. A lot of credit to him. He's a smart player. He's a dependable guy. He's done a good job for us."

The team's leading receiver was Richie James, who finished the game with a season-high eight receptions for 90 yards. Darius Slayton continued his strong season with four receptions for 79 yards. After struggling with explosive plays at times this season, Hodgins, James and Slayton had catches of at least 29 yards.


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