When asked earlier in the week if he enjoyed playing under the lights, Kayvon Thibodeaux responded: "Primetime likes me."
Well, the rookie outside linebacker backed that claim up with the best game of his young professional career on Sunday night, and now he has been nominated for the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week.
The fifth overall pick was a force in the run game early, racking up three tackles for loss in the first quarter. But the highlight of the game came early in the second quarter when the 22-year-old sacked Taylor Heinicke near the Commanders' goal line and forced the ball out of the quarterback's hands. Thibodeaux then scooped the ball up and ran into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
"I think he's consistently improved throughout the year, and obviously I've said this before, I'm glad we drafted him," coach Brian Daboll said after the game. "I'm glad he's part of the team. I think he's gotten better each week. He's a big part of our defense. ... He gave us, obviously, a lot of juice. That play he made down there when they were backed up kind of changed the tide a little bit (in) the early part of the game. He's a very talented player, and he played like it."
View the best photos of Giants rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux finished the game with a game-high 12 total tackles (nine solo), one sack, three tackles for loss and the touchdown. The 12 tackles were also a new season-high for the rookie.
"He played a good game," Daboll added on Monday. "Watched the tape last night on the train, and that's what we expect from him – to go out there and play with effort. That's what we saw in him in college. When we went through the process of selecting him in the draft, that's what we felt really good about: A guy that loves football, that competes, that finishes. He's done a really good job of fitting into our organization and what we want to do."
The other nominees for the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week 15 are:
- WR Jahan Dotson (WAS) - 4 receptions for 105 yards and a TD
- QB Brock Purdy (SF) - 17 of 26 for 217 yards and two TDs
- RB Tyler Allgeier (ATL) - 17 carries for 139 yards (8.2 avg.) and a TD
- WR Rashid Shaheed (NO)- three receptions for 95 yards and a TD
- LB Christian Harris (HOU) - 14 tackles, three tackles for loss