Experts react to Kayvon Thibodeaux's breakout game
When asked last week if he enjoyed playing in primetime, Kayvon Thibodeaux had a clever response for the media.
"Primetime likes me. Y'all can use that one."
Well, the rookie backed up his claim and then some.
Thibodeaux had easily the best game of his NFL career. The outside linebacker registered a team-high 12 total tackles (nine solo), the most he's had in a game this season, to go with three tackles for loss and a strip-sack, which he recovered for a touchdown.
"He played a good game," coach Brian Daboll said 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."
Thibodeaux's breakout performance has garnered a ton of praise from experts across the NFL landscape.
Check out some of the best expert reactions to the rookie's career-game below.
"I so appreciate Thibodeaux making the biggest defensive play in a game the Giants needed to take a big step toward the playoffs—because of how he became a Giant. On the Saturday before the draft last April, Giants GM Joe Schoen had a long heart-to-heart with Thibodeaux to find out what was true and what was false about the effort questions that filled the scouting space pre-draft about Thibodeaux, the Oregon pass-rusher. Schoen took a leap of faith and put his rep on the line for this talented player. And so Sunday night in Washington, with the Commanders backed up inside their five-yard line, Thibodeaux bull-rushed over left tackle Charles Leno, barged toward quarterback Taylor Heinicke, strip-sacked the quarterback, recovered at the one- and scored the go-ahead points in the second quarter. The Giants never trailed after that. Huge game for Thibodeaux: 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, and the TD that keyed the victory. Assist to Schoen."
"Sunday night was about Kayvon Thibodeaux. The fifth pick in last April's draft finished with a sack, three tackles for losses, and 12 total tackles, plus a strip-sack that he scooped and scored himself, but his statistics don't begin to explain how omnipresent he seemed to be for the balance of the night. And that really, as the Giants see it, is more an illustration of where he's been—while the knee injury he suffered in preseason against the Bengals slowed him down early, he has steadily improved and had a big game Sunday night.
Thibodeaux has been really good of late, validating some internal comparisons he drew to Von Miller before the draft."
"Prime time loves Kayvon. Days after Giants rookie first-rounder Kayvon Thibodeauxproclaimed "prime time likes me," the dynamic edge loved prime time right back. Thibodeaux shined in the spotlight with the finest game of his rookie campaign and perhaps one of the best games any NFL defender has had this year. In a colossal game for Big Blue, the bodacious No. 5 overall pick turned the volume up to 11 with his play, setting a spectacular tone with a strip-sack and subsequent fumble return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Thibodeaux quite literally stopped a Commanders comeback when he tackled a scrambling Taylor Heinicke at the 1-yard line. It was the last tackle of the game as a subsequent Commanders TD run by Brian Robinson was negated by a penalty and two incompletions followed. Twelve tackles, a sack, the TD, three tackles for loss, a QB hit, three run stuffs and two QB pressures. That's what Thibodeaux did on Sunday night under the lights. He became just the second player (joining the Bills' London Fletcher in 2006) since 2000 to record 10-plus tackles, three TFL and a fumble recovery for a TD in a game, according to NFL Research. Coming into Week 15, perhaps Thibodeaux's rookie season was a bit on the quiet side. That changed in a very vociferous way on Sunday night."
NFL Research: Kayvon Thibodeaux became the first Giants rookie with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a sack in a game since sacks became an official stat since 1982. The last rookie to pull off the feat was Washington's Chase Young in Week 14 of 2020. Young was inactive Sunday.
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