If the keys to victory sound repetitive after 18 games, including postseason, it's because they are.
"What wins in Week 1 wins in the playoffs," Giants coach Brian Daboll said heading into his postseason debut as head coach, a 31-24 Wild Card victory at Minnesota. "And what loses in Week 1 loses in the playoffs."
The football truths only get truer as teams advance round by round. Here are three of them for the Giants, who are 6-0 against No. 1 seeds since the playoff restructuring in 1990:
Turnovers change postseasons
How would history have changed if Ahmad Bradshaw didn't recover the fumble or Asante Samuel did corral the interception in Super Bowl XLII? What about Jacquian Williams stripping punt returner Kyle Williams and Devin Thomas recovering the ball in the 2011 NFC Championship Game? In recent terms, the 2022 Giants turned over the ball just 16 times in the regular season, second-fewest in the league. Philadelphia was 10-0 when it won the turnover battle (4-3 in other games).
Set the tone early
In their two previous meetings combined, the Eagles scored 40 points before the Giants even got on the board. They jumped out to leads of 21-0 in Week 14 and 19-0 in Week 18. Giants backups played valiantly in the latter, putting up a fight to make it one onside kick recovery away from a possible comeback victory. But the Giants are expecting "Jalen Hurts the MVP candidate" – as defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said this week – after the quarterback was coming off a two-game absence due to a throwing shoulder injury. Hurts is no longer on the injury report.
"Everybody's saying he's having an MVP season, and I agree because he can beat you with his legs," Martindale said. "He can beat you with just being a drop-back quarterback. He can beat you with a sore shoulder. He can beat you a lot of different ways, and that's a great challenge because there's just a few quarterbacks that can do it that way. And you can have him dead to rights back there in the pocket, and he's a magician. He'll get out of it. I'm not happy for the guy right now because I'm preparing for him. But you can see the work that he put in the past offseason. And where he's at today is, to me, two completely different quarterbacks. Out of respect of the game, you respect that. You can see the hard work that he put in. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."
Hurts is the tip of a quick-strike offense that finished behind only the Chiefs for most plays of 20+ yards, including 17 that went for touchdowns. Three such scores came against the Giants in Week 14 alone.
Lights out up front
Stats can be deceiving. The Giants didn't record a sack in the Wild Card Round, but the defensive front played lights out with 11 quarterbacks hits while holding the Vikings to 3.8 yards per rush (with a long of 11). Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams set the tone inside and need to do the same against one of the best offensive lines – if not the best - in the league, The key matchup of the game will be Lawrence against center Jason Kelce, two All-Pros.
"They are some big dudes, physical," the 6-foot-4, 342-pound Lawrence said. "They've got a good leader in Kelce. He helped them learn a lot. They can latch on to you pretty good."
Kelce is listed at 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds.
"He's little and he's scrappy," Lawrence said. "He knows how to get his body in good position, he knows how to manipulate D-linemen, and the guards do a good job pounding down and helping when he needs it."
View photos from the Giants' 31-24 Wild Card victory over the Minnesota Vikings.