The Giants defeated the Vikings, 31-24, on NFL Super Wildcard Weekend and are advancing to the Divisional round of the playoffs where they will take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night. The win against the Vikings looked very similar to the Giants' loss to them on Christmas Eve, except the Giants didn't turn it over twice or have a punt blocked.
1. The Giants had one of their best offensive games of the season, starting the contest with three scoring drives (two touchdowns and one field goal) of 80 yards or more. They added touchdown drives of 75 and 67 yards in the second half. The Giants punted only twice with two drives ending in kneel-downs.
The Giants started the game running the football successfully, with three Saquon Barkley runs of 13 or more yards on their first three drives (though the first was called back on a holding penalty).
The first run in this set is Barkley's 28-yard touchdown after jet sweep motion to Matt Breida pulls linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks to the left, and gets Harrison Smith to attack to the left while Barkley runs to the right side of the defense. Behind Isaiah Hodgins' block against linebacker DJ Wonnum, Andrew Thomas pulling and kicking out cornerback Duke Shelley, and Jon Feliciano getting to the second level and not only blocking cornerback Chandon Sullivan but also screening out safety Camryn Bynum, Barkley took it in for a 28-yard touchdown. The second is Barkley's 16-yard run on the Giants' second drive on a trap play behind good blocks by the team's three interior offensive linemen.
Barkley only had seven more runs for nine total yards the rest of the day. But he was a big factor in the passing game, which often served as an extension of the running game. He had five receptions (mostly catch-and-runs) for 56 yards.
Daniel Jones, on the other hand, was a huge part of the Giants' running game. Not including kneel-downs, Jones ran it six times for 21 yards on designed runs. Jones was more effective as a scrambler, running it six times for 59 yards, including three that went for 10+ and four that gained crucial first downs. All of these scrambles in this series of plays came in the first half and created first downs or gained at least 10 yards.
On the Giants' second-quarter scoring drive (20 plays, 85 yards), Jones ran it seven times for 50. He also had a 4-yard touchdown run called back by an illegal shift penalty. Jones finished the game leading the team in rushing attempts (17) and yards (78).
2. Jones was even more effective as a passer, finishing 25-of-34 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 114.1 quarterback rating. His mobility helped throughout the game.
On this first clip, no one is open on the initial route combinations, but as Jones scrambles to the right, linebacker Eric Kendricks begins to watch Jones and loses track of Hodgins, who separates before Jones finds him for a 32-yard gain. The second one is Jones' best throw of the game. He is flushed to the left and finds Hodgins, who taps his toes on the sideline for a 19-yard catch.
Hodgins led the team with eight catches for 105 yards.
The Giants had four competitions of 20+ yards (vs. only three for Minnesota) and attacked the Vikings with countless crossing and over routes. All three of these throws are to Darius Slayton. The first two plays went for 69 total yards and were big parts of the Giants' first two scoring drives in the first quarter. The third play came in the fourth, and eventually led to Saquon Barkley' 2-yard touchdown run.
Slayton finished the game second on the team with 88 receiving yards on four catches.
Jones only attempted one pass that traveled more than 20 yards in the air but they designed great catch-and-run opportunities for their receivers in the intermediate levels of the field. On each of the Giants' four touchdown drives, they had at least one play go for at least 19+ yards.
The Giants were great on third down (7-of-13). In these spots, Jones went 5-of-7 on nine dropbacks for four first downs, and a scramble that moved the chains.
On those throws, the ball came out quickly. The Giants were able to attack that way because they only had one third-down attempt of more than seven yards.
The Giants protected Daniel Jones fairly well throughout the game, even though he was sacked three times and hit four times. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants only allowed a 21.7% pressure rate. Jones' mobility often got him out of trouble, stepping up in the pocket as outside rushers were pushed around him. PFF tracked Andrew Thomas for allowing no pressures.
One more play just for fun. Watch Kenny Golladay's block on this quick throw to Saquon Barkley.
3. The Giants' defense allowed 24 points and 332 yards, but made two critical critical stops on the Vikings' final two drives to seal the win. They used a combination of pressure and good coverage to make those stops.
On the first play of the Vikings' final drive, Fabian Moureau stayed with Adam Theilin on a deep out route to force an incomplete pass. On the next pass, Cor'Dale Flott stayed with KJ Osborn on a crossing route, and knocked away the ball. On the final play of the game, there is solid pressure across the field complimented by an interior pressure from Dexter Lawrence, and a good open-field tackle by Xavier McKinney.
It wasn't the only play Dexter Lawrence made that impacted the game. He did not have a sack but had four quarterback hits and was tracked for eight total pressures from Pro Football Focus. Watch him Lawrence collapse the inside of the pocket using his length, power and athleticism against center Garrett Bradbury and guards Ed Ingram and Ezra Cleveland.
Leonard Williams gave the interior offensive line fits, with a pair of quarterback hits. PFF also tracked him for seven pressures.
According to PFF, the Giants managed a 41.5% pressure rate, which was higher than any other team in the first five games of the playoffs. Wink Martindale tamped down his blitz tendencies, sending extra pressure just 22% of the time, according to PFF. He also played very little man defense according to PFF, playing Cover-1 just three times, and Cover-0 just twice. They tracked the Giants playing 47% of their snaps in quarters coverage (four-deep), which was one of their highest rates of the season.
That zone/umbrella coverage is a big reason Justin Jefferson was held to just seven catches for 47 yards. The Giants kept everything in front of them, although tight end TJ Hockenson was able to find holes in the zone.
On the last pressure in the last video series, Dane Belton did a very good job forcing Dalvin Cook out of bounds and preventing a short pass from turning into a long game. The Giants' defense tackled well and kept those short passes and screens to short gains. Darnay Holmes was particularly effective in this series of plays to prevent impactful runs after the catch.
After hurting the Giants with screen passes on Christmas Eve, the Vikings only gained four yards on five completed screen passes.
*Inside linebackers Jaylon Smith (61%) and Jarrad Davis (who played 56% if the snaps in place of Micah McFadden) were subbed out for Tony Jefferson (39% of the snaps), Landon Collins (19%), Dane Belton (18%) and Jason Pinnock (12%).
*Despite his big pass deflection late in the game, Cor'Dale Flottt played only three snaps in the game. Fabian Moureau played 88% of the snaps, Adoree' Jackson played 96% of the snaps despite not having played since November, and Nick McCloud played 28% of the snaps. Julian Love and Xavier McKinney played every snap. Darnay Holmes played 58%.
*Kayvon Thibodeaux played 93% of the snaps, while Leonard Williams 91% and Dexter Lawrence 89%.
*The left guard rotation with Ben Bredeson playing 69% versus just 31% of the snaps for Nick Gates. Isaiah Hodgins logged 92% of the snaos, while Darius Slayton played 90%. Richie James was on the field for 60% and Kenny Golladay got four reps.
*Saquon Barkley played 90% of the offensive plays with Matt Breida at 29% and tight end Lawrence Cager 33%.
View photos from the Giants' 31-24 Wild Card victory over the Minnesota Vikings.