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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants vs. Redskins

Three Giants.com writers give their biggest takeaways from Sunday's victory in Washington and look ahead to the season finale:

John Schmeelk: As impressive as Daniel Jones' overall numbers were on Sunday, far more significant were the drives he orchestrated at the end of the first half and in overtime. Before this game, Jones' most clutch drive was also the closest thing he had completed to a true two-minute drill this year. It came in the Giants victory against the Buccaneers in Week 3. The Giants got the ball at their own 25-yard line, down six with 3:16 remaining and no timeouts. Since then, he hadn't completed a true two-minute drill or game-winning drive. He did both against the Redskins on Sunday.

At the end of the first half, the Giants' drive started at their own 27-yard line with only 2:19 remaining and no timeouts. After an unnecessary roughness penalty on a sack on 2nd and 10, Jones hit Golden Tate with a perfect pass over the middle for 31 yards. Four plays later, he got the team in the end zone only using 1:41 off the clock. It was an efficient drive that featured just two incomplete passes and a conversion on a third and short inside the red zone.

The Giants won the coin toss in overtime, and Jones only had to convert one third down to get the ball to the three-yard line. Much like on the drive to close the first half, Jones converted a third and seven on a perfect pass over the middle to Sterling Shepard for a big gain. The only other third down conversion came on the game winning play on third and goal from the three. Kaden Smith beat Landon Collins one on one across the middle for the touchdown. Jones threw only two incomplete passes on the drive that went 66 yards on 11 plays.

There's an art to succeeding in two-minute situations and on clutch drives at the end of games. What separated Eli Manning from other quarterbacks was his ability to operate under such circumstances, which is often the difference between wins and losses. It takes a young player time to figure it out, and it looks like Jones is doing just that.

Dan Salomone: The Giants are "going to try to finish the season off strong." Saquon Barkley used that phrase a half-dozen times in his Monday media availability, one day after he set the franchise's single-game yards from scrimmage record in a thrilling overtime victory. Equally, he was asked a half-dozen ways if ending the Eagles' playoff hopes in Week 17 would give him any satisfaction. "We're going to try to finish the season off strong," he repeated with a wry smile. Make no mistake. While Barkley played coy on the outside, players relish this opportunity even though their playoff hopes have been dashed for weeks. Doing so against the Eagles, a rival they haven't beaten since Nov. 6, 2016, would make it that much sweeter. 

"Yeah, everyone knows that it would be… it's a big game," Barkley said, finally giving in a little bit. "It's going to be a big game because it's the last game for us, we want to go off on the right note. Obviously, it's a big game for them. I think they have to win to clinch in the playoffs. The last two times we've played them have been hard-fought games when they've found a way to come back and win when we got on top. We've just got to learn from those things. I think it could be something big for us if we could finish off the season strong going into the offseason into next year."

Lance Medow: In Sunday's overtime win over the Redskins, the Giants racked up season-highs of 552 total yards and 28 first downs. A big reason for those two accomplishments was a stellar ground game. No surprise, the Giants also set a season-high with 206 rushing yards, and Saquon Barkley was responsible for a career-high 189 of them. Those numbers look great on paper, but the substance behind them tells the whole story. For the second straight week, the Giants avoided negative plays, specifically on early downs. Of the Giants' 26 runs, just three were for negative yards. In the previous game against Miami, the Giants had five runs for no gain or negative yards, but Barkley's worst run went for no gain.

The offensive line deserves a lot of credit, as well as tight end Kaden Smith, who served as a solid complement to the line. Their ability to win in the trenches not only allowed Barkley to consistently get to the second level of the defense, but also gave Daniel Jones plenty of time to survey the field in the passing game. Jones was barely touched and was only sacked once. As great as Barkley is as an athlete, he's only as good as the line in front of him and thanks to the holes that group created, he was able to produce the explosive plays that had been missing for the bulk of the season. The Giants had nine plays of 20 or more yards, and Barkley was responsible for five of them, including runs of 20, 32 and a 67-yard touchdown. After a seven-game drought of failing to reach the century mark, Barkley has now surpassed 100 yards on the ground in each of the last two games. That's a product of the Giants' offensive line and Barkley's patience as a runner.

Not surprisingly, the successful run game also led to one of the Giants' best performances on third down this season. They were 8 of 14 (57%) on third down with nine of those downs for six yards or less. Once again, if you run the ball effectively on early downs, you avoid third and longs and face manageable downs and distances throughout drives. It's no coincidence that on a day the Giants set season-highs across the board, they found the end zone six times and posted a season-best 41 points.

A unique perspective from Week 16

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