Don’t Count Them Out! Scrappy Giants Overthrow Highly Seeded Vikings Team

Entering the 2022 NFL season, the New York Giants were a team surrounded with question marks. Would a new coaching staff be able to change the culture around New York football? Would Saquon Barkley ever return to his pre-injury stardom? And arguably most importantly, was Daniel Jones be the long-term answer at quarterback?  

Just about five months later, these questions seem to have all been answered. After a 9-7-1 regular season, the Giants entered the playoffs as the six-seed, on the road, against the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings. After beating the Giants on Christmas Eve, Minnesota, the third seed, was looking to make quick work of the scrappy Giants and punch their ticket into the next round.  

The Vikings opened the game with a methodical drive which saw quarterback Kirk Cousins lean heavily on star wide receiver Justin Jefferson. After Jefferson got the ball to the Giants 1-yard line, Cousins snuck it into the end zone for an opening score.  

Daniel Jones and the Giants offense however responded in a big way. After completing each of his first 5 passes, including connections with Richie James and Darius Slayton, Jones handed off to New York’s offensive star to take it the rest of the way. Barkley took the hand off 28-yards for a game-evening score. 

After a quick defensive stand, the Giants once again put the ball in the end zone after a 45-yard connection between Jones and Slayton, followed by a touchdown pass to young star Isaiah Hodgins.

Following another impressive defensive drive, “Big Blue” marched down the field on a nearly 20-play, 11-minute drive to step themselves up in the redzone. After an illegal motion penalty took a touchdown off the board on their next drive, Graham Gano continued his kicking excellence with a field goal, giving New York a 17-7 lead.

After a quick touchdown drive from Minnesota before half, the Giants entered halftime with a three-point advantage. Jones and the offense had entered a new level which had not been seen all year.

After the two teams traded touchdowns, the Minnesota forced a rare punt from New York, worrying fans back home. The Vikings then proceeded to march right down the field, in prime position to take the lead. On a fourth down with a yard to go for a first down, a Vikings offensive lineman jumped the snap early, pushing them back five yards. The penalty forced Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell to settle for a game tying field goal, a disappointing end to a promising drive.

Entering the fourth quarter tied and Jefferson having remained dormant throughout the game, the Giants felt pressure to score and grab the lead. They did just that with Jones using his legs to convert a fourth down and short. Jones then hooked up with Hodgins again along the sideline giving New York a great position to score. After a few Jones runs, Barkley powered his way past former Giant Dalvin Tomlinson for a touchdown. Giants 31, Vikings 24.

On a crucial third down play, Giants all-pro nose-tackle Dexter Lawrence sacked Cousins. However, it was flagged as a controversial personal foul call. After failing to convert on their next few plays, the Vikings faced a harsh 4th-down-and-8 situation. Cousins connected with tight end T.J. Hockenson however star safety Xavier McKinney made the tackle of his life, stopping Hockenson short of the line to gain.

With the upset win, Barkley, Jones, and the Giants at large have silenced many doubters. Jones had arguably his best game of the season, passing for over 300 yards and running for another 70. Barkley added 53 yards on the ground, 56 receiving, and two scores. After finishing last season 4-13, the Giants more than doubled their win total in just one calendar year, a testament to the work put in by head coach Brian Daboll. With the win, New York will move on the face the top seeded, division rival, Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round, Saturday night during the primetime slot (8:15 pm EST).