AT A GLANCE
Coming off an extended break after their Thanksgiving game in Dallas, the New York Giants returned to work on Monday with one mindset: "The season starts now." Indeed, they relished the opportunity to play meaningful games late in the season but kicked off the December slate with a 20-20 tie with the Washington Commanders. Graham Gano missed a 58-yard field goal attempt short as time expired in overtime. It was the Giants' first tie since 1997…also against Washington…also in Week 13.
The Giants (7-4-1) host the Eagles (11-1) in their third of four consecutive games against NFC East opponents. Philadelphia, which owns the best record in the NFL, lost its last two road games against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Commanders (7-5-1) go on their bye and return to host the Giants for their second meeting in a three-week span.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE
*The Giants had reinforcements on offense this week. Rookie Evan Neal, the seventh overall draft pick, started at right tackle for the first time since suffering a knee injury in Week 7. Tight end Daniel Bellinger, who suffered a serious eye injury in that same game, also returned to action. Jon Feliciano, meanwhile, was back at center following a back injury he suffered in Week 11. Nick Gates slid to left guard.
*Saquon Barkley reached 1,000 rushing yards for the third time in his career and first since doing it back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019. He needed just eight yards to hit the milestone entering Sunday, but he did more than that. Barkley, coming off his two lowest rushing totals of the season, notched 63 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Barkley also had five catches for 18 yards and added another chapter to his illustrious history vs. Washington, which includes him setting the franchise single-game record with 279 yards from scrimmage in a 2019 meeting.
*Darius Slayton matched a career-long with a 55-yard reception in the second quarter, setting up Barkley's 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game 10-10 after the Giants had fallen behind 10-0 to start the afternoon. Slayton scored a touchdown from 55 yards as a rookie in 2019. He also had a 54-yard touchdown earlier this season against Houston.
*Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, originally a 2020 sixth-round pick by Buffalo, scored his first NFL touchdown on a six-yard pass from Daniel Jones. The Giants claimed Hodgins off waivers the day after he was released by the Bills on Nov. 1.
*Jones completed 25 of 31 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. He also moved the chains consistently with his legs, racking up 71 yards on 13 carries, with a long of 21 yards. Jones did lose a fumble on the opening possession, leading to a Washington field goal for the first points of the game.
*Tight end Nick Vannett was signed off the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday. Another tight end, Tanner Hudson, was waived.
*The offense stalled in the first and fourth quarters as the Giants scored all 20 of their regulation points in the second and third frames. They received the ball to start overtime but quickly had to punt after Jones was sacked on third down. Their second drive of overtime also ended in a punt before the third ended in a long field goal attempt, which was unsuccessful.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE
*Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari and defensive back Tony Jefferson were activated from injured reserve on Saturday. Both players returned to practice this week after lengthy absences. Defensive tackle Vernon Butler and defensive back Zyon Gilbert were elevated from the practice squad.
Ojulari, a second-year pro, had played in just two games this season and none since the Giants' victory against Chicago on Oct. 2 when he re-injured the calf muscle he first hurt in training camp. He was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 22. As a rookie in 2021, Ojulari played in all 17 games with 13 starts and led the Giants with a franchise rookie-record 8.0 sacks.
*Ojulari put an exclamation point on his return with a strip-sack of Taylor Heinicke on the first drive of the second half. Ojulari also recovered the fumble at the Washington 20, setting up Hodgins' go-ahead touchdown.
*Defensive tackle Justin Ellis, playing in his 112th regular-season game, recorded his first career solo sack. Jihad Ward, Dexter Lawrence, and Kayvon Thibodeaux also had sacks, bringing the defense's total to five for the day. Thibodeaux's came in overtime, nearly forcing a walk-off safety after they pinned Washington deep.
*The Giants were unable to close it out on defense in regulation. They gave up an eight-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that tied the game, capped by a 28-yard catch-and-run score from Jahan Dotson with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS
*Before the long miss at the end of overtime, Gano made both of his field goal attempts from 48 and 27 yards.
*The Giants downed three of Jamie Gillan's punts inside the 20, including at the 10 in overtime.
*Marcus Johnson and Carter Coughlin pinned the Commanders at their own five-yard line with a tackle of Antonio Gibson on a kickoff late in the third quarter.
IN-GAME INJURY REPORT
NYG: DL Leonard Williams (neck)
WAS: OT Sam Cosmi (ankle)
NYG: WR Kenny Golladay (illness), CB Adoree' Jackson (knee), CB Darnay Holmes (shoulder), G Shane Lemieux (toe), G Joshua Ezeudu (neck), TE Lawrence Cager, OLB Elerson Smith
WAS: WR Dax Milne (foot), CB Benjamin St-Juste (ankle), LB De'Jon Harris, G Chris Paul, G Trai Turner (knee/ankle), DE Chase Young (knee)