The Giants are getting closer to ending their long playoff absence. It’s been five seasons and nine out of the last 10 years that they haven’t experienced postseason football. Change is near after the Giants’ signature and critical 20-12 road win on Sunday night over their NFC East division rival Washington Commanders.
It was highlighted by the sensational performance by rookie defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who strip-sacked Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke at 13:10 of the second quarter with the ball on Washington’s 10-yard line, and completed the play by gathering the ball and running it into the end zone for the Giants’ first non-offensive touchdown of the season.
“I thought he gave, obviously, a lot of juice,” said Giants head coach Brian Daboll of Thibodeaux. “That play that he made down there when they were backed up kind of changed the tide a little bit in the early part of the game. He is a very talented player and he played like it.”
The fifth overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft said the power of internal belief compelled the outcome of his actions.
“I didn’t do anything different. Honestly, it’s manifestation,” maintained Thibodeaux. “I had a talk with my mom before the game. She said it was on her heart to tell me that you can do anything that you put your mind to. For me, I had to say it and believe it, and I was able to do it.”
The Giants’ gripping victory, which they didn’t seal until cornerback Darnay Holmes broke up a pass from Heinicke to wide receiver Terry McLaurin in the end zone as time expired, put them ahead of the Commanders in the wildcard hunt. Despite the Commanders asserting that pass interference should have been called against Holmes, the Giants left FedEx Field 8-5-1.
They now enter a Week 16 matchup on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) with the 11-3 Vikings in Minnesota while the 7-6-1 Commanders will face the 10-4 San Francisco 49ers Saturday at 4:05 p.m. The Vikings are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC and the 49ers the No. 3 seed. However, the consensus is the 49ers are a greater threat to make it to the Super Bowl than Minnesota. They are both chasing the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the NFC’s top seed, who have a highly anticipated meeting with the No. 4 seed 10-4 Dallas Cowboys in Texas Saturday at 4:25 p.m.
The battle for home field advantage, seeding and one of the seven playoff spots is fluid. The Giants have firmly placed themselves in contention by being above all else resourceful. They have endured injuries to some of their best players, including safety Xavier McKinney, who was the defensive unit’s play caller until suffering an injury riding an ATV during the team’s bye-week in early November.
McKinney subsequently required surgery to repair fingers on his left hand. The 23-year-old product from the University of Alabama has expressed optimism he will return before the end of the season. The Giants best cornerback, Adoree’ Jackson, has been out since spraining his MCL on a punt return versus the Detroit Lions on Nov. 20 in Week 11.
The Giants were reeling after attaining a 7-2 record. They went 1-3-1 over the next five games, the tie (20-20) coming versus the Commanders on Dec. 4. Yet the Giants have endured and are playing games in December that have potential playoff ramifications for them for the first time since the 2016 season.