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Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: No playoff experience, no problem

KEYS-TO-VICTORY

Of the Giants' 10 season captains, only longtime kicker Graham Gano has played in the postseason, most recently for the 2017 Carolina Panthers. The other nine have played a combined 595 games without making it past the regular season.

Although Daboll, who has five Super Bowl rings as an assistant, believes playoff experience is overrated because all that matters is what happens this Sunday, players have gotten some advice on what to expect in their first time out.

"Obviously, I know it's a playoff game, more attention, more eyes, but to me, I won't be nervous," running back Saquon Barkley said. "Will I be hyped? Yeah, I get hyped for every single game. Nerves, I wouldn't say that. For me, it's just another football game. I talked to [Michael] Strahan when he was here not too long ago and I asked him, 'What's really the difference between playoff football?' He said obviously the intensity rises and all that, but the best advice he gave me was don't make the game bigger than it needs to be. I'm keeping that advice and sticking with that advice."

"I've spoken with some of the older guys, some of the coaches," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "A lot of guys talk about the speed of the game and that increasing in the playoffs and just how critical each play is. And it's one or two plays here or there that's going to make the difference. In a regular season game, maybe it's a handful. But in the playoffs, these are good teams that you're competing against. It's one or two plays that's going to make the difference. So, we understand that. We understand what's at stake. We're going to stick to what's gotten us here. We're going to stick to the routine, the preparation that we've been putting in."

Here are three keys to victory for the Giants on Super Wild Card Weekend in Minnesota:

Don't get Cooked

In Week 16 against the Giants, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson became the first teammates in NFL history each to have 12+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards and one touchdown in the same game. Coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale sounded almost resigned to the fact that they will get their numbers, meaning how the dynamic running back fares could be the key to it all. The Vikings are 10-0 when Cook has at least 75 yards from scrimmage this season.

So, how do you stop him and make the Vikings one-dimensional?

The Giants need to attack the line of scrimmage and have gap discipline. Cook likes to run outside but also has the ability to cut it back like the Giants saw up close in Week 16. It's going to take a full defensive effort against Kirk Cousins and his many weapons.

No extra possessions for the home team

Daniel Jones led all NFL qualified passers with a 1.1 interception percentage in 2022 (five interceptions in 472 attempts). He dethroned Aaron Rodgers, who topped the category the previous four seasons. However, one of those interceptions by Jones came at the hands of Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson.

"He's a talented player, probably going to be a Hall of Famer and All-Pro, perennial All-Pro, all over the field," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said of Peterson. "He makes plays. He's a smart, instinctive player so we have to be smart with what we do and make sure our guys are detailed with what things we want to present that defense."

Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger also lost a fumble, which led to a Greg Joseph field goal and an early 10-0 Vikings lead. The Giants have shown they can overcome slow starts, but turnovers are magnified in the postseason.

All three phases for 60 minutes (if not longer)

Thomas McGaughey has been around long enough to know the Giants' long history with big special teams plays during playoff runs. The coordinator is also aware that there is "blood in the water" this week in Minnesota, where just three weeks ago Vikings safety Josh Metellus blocked a Jamie Gillan punt in Giants territory. It led to Jefferson's go-ahead touchdown catch with three minutes left in the game.

"That's anytime you have a blocked kick in this league," McGaughey said. "When you put blood in the water, and that's what they do anyway. They've rushed 46 times this year. That's more than anybody else in the league. And obviously, percentage-wise, they block more punts. They do a good job – (Vikings special teams coordinator) Matt Daniels and his group – do a good job. Those guys play extremely hard, and it's going to be a challenge for us. Again, that's playoff football. That's life in the NFL. It's punch, counterpunch."

That game, of course, ended with the fifth field goal in NFL history that was 61 or more yards with zero time remaining in the fourth quarter, and the second that sent the Giants to defeat. On Sept. 24, 2017, Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field to give the Eagles a 27-24 victory in Lincoln Financial Field. The Vikings played in 11 one-possession games (including two that went to OT) this season – and won all of them. They also orchestrated the largest comeback in NFL history this season. This one won't be over until the final Gjallarhorn.

View rare photos of the Giants' history playing on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

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