EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The most dominant performance of Kayvon Thibodeaux's brief career has earned him his first NFL honor.
Thibodeaux today was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after he was the best player on the field in the Giants' 20-12 victory at Washington Sunday night.
The fifth overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Thibodeaux recorded a career and game-high 12 tackles (nine solo), including three for loss. He also scored the Giants' first touchdown on a one-yard fumble return with 13:10 remaining in the second quarter. On second-and-18 from the Commanders' 10-yard line, Thibodeaux blew by tackle Charles Leno, Jr., sacked Taylor Heinicke for a nine-yard loss and stripped the ball from his hand, then pounced on it and stepped into the end zone to give the Giants a lead they never relinquished.
View the best photos of Giants rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux's initial career score was the Giants' first defensive touchdown since Nov. 7, 2021, when Xavier McKinney intercepted a pass by Las Vegas' Derek Carr and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.
Thibodeaux made another huge play with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter when he chased and then tackled Heinicke at the one-yard line after a nine-yard gain. His effort prevented the Commanders from getting a first down just shy of the goal line.
On third-and-one, Brian Robinson bulled his way into the end zone, but the touchdown was nullified by an illegal formation penalty. Forced to snap the ball from the six, Heinicke was chased by Azeez Ojulari and threw the ball away to avoid a sack. Heinicke's fourth-down pass for Curtis Samuel fell incomplete, securing the Giants' victory.
Despite missing the first two games with a knee injury suffered in the preseason, Thibodeaux is tied for third on the Giants with 3.0 sacks and is second on the team with 11 quarterback hits. He has 38 tackles (24 solo), including four for loss, plus three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Thibodeaux is just the second rookie among the Giants' 51 defensive Player of the Week selections in the 39-year history of the award and the first since Week 14 of the 2014 season. Linebacker Devon Kennard was honored after picking up two sacks and six solo tackles and forcing a fumble in the Giants' 36-7 victory at Tennessee.
The last Giants rookie to win a Player of the Week award was quarterback Daniel Jones after his first NFL start at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22, 2019.
Thibodeaux is the first Giants defensive player to be honored since Leonard Williams was named Player of the Week after he had 3.0 sacks in the 2020 season finale vs. Dallas. Williams had also received the honor four weeks earlier after a victory in Seattle.
The Giants have won four Player of the Week awards this season, and they've been divided among the offense, defense and special teams.
Saquon Barkley was cited after totaling 194 scrimmage yards, including 164 and one touchdown on the ground, in the Giants' Week 1 victory at Tennessee. Jones won the team's second Offensive Player of the Week award after throwing for 202 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a career-high 107 yards and another score in Week 7 at Jacksonville.
Graham Gano was named Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking four field goals, including 52 and 56-yarders, in a victory against Carolina on Sept. 18.