Go behind the scenes with Big Blue
Enroll for Contained in the Giants by Paul Schwartz, a weekly Sports+ exclusive.
Fans of a certain age who root for the Giants, looking forward to this Sunday’s playoff game, will smile, wince and rejoice as they think back to previous postseason matchups against the Vikings.
There are only three to review. The primary was fairly routine and likewise historically significant. The second was definitely galling. The third was undeniably enthralling.
Does any of this reminiscing have anything to do with this Giants team and this upcoming game? Contained in the constructing, no. Head coach Brian Daboll must give attention to just one aspect of the Giants-Vikings past to maintain his team laser-focused: the very recent past. On Christmas Eve, the Giants and Vikings engaged in a down-to-the-wire battle inside U.S. Bank Stadium, which the Vikings won, 27-24, on Greg Joseph’s 61-yard field goal as time expired.
The Giants left Minneapolis bemoaning three critical mistakes — a fumble by rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, a rare interception thrown by Daniel Jones and a blocked punt — that compromised their upset possibilities. The Giants left town believing they could see the Vikings again and assured that in the event that they did, they may finish the job the subsequent time around.
What happened years ago has no bearing on what happens this weekend. Fans, though, all the time keep big wins and greater losses of their hearts and minds. Here’s a have a look at the three previous Giants-Vikings playoff encounters:
1993 NFC Wild Card game
Giants 17, Vikings 10
Jan. 9, 1994 at Giants Stadium
Rodney Hampton crosses the goal line on a 51-yard touchdown run.AFP via Getty Images
In his first yr as the top coach, Dan Reeves restored Giants pride and dignity after two tumultuous and embarrassing seasons under Ray Handley. It was a windy day on the Meadowlands, not conducive to a high-flying passing attack, but perfect for a hard-charging running back. Enter Rodney Hampton. The Giants trailed 10-3 at halftime after Jim McMahon hit Cris Carter on a 40-yard touchdown pass (working with the wind), however the second half was all Giants and all Hampton. He scored on touchdown runs of 51 and a couple of yards because the Giants defense pitched a second-half shutout. Hampton finished with 161 yards. This game is also noteworthy for being the ultimate home game for Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms. The Giants were routed, 44-3, the subsequent week in San Francisco in the ultimate NFL game for those two franchise legends.
1997 NFC Wild Card game
Vikings 23, Giants 22
Dec. 27, 1997 at Giants Stadium
Randall Cunningham led the Vikings to a shocking fourth-quarter comeback within the 1997 playoffs.Sporting News via Getty Images
There have been not great expectations for the Giants in the primary season for rookie head coach Jim Fassel. So be it. Fassel was named the NFL Coach of the 12 months after guiding his upstart team to a record of 10-5-1 and first place within the NFC East. There didn’t appear to be any option to put a negative spin on what he achieved, but then got here this playoff game, one among the worst postseason collapses in team history. The Giants led 22-13 on the two-minute warning, due to Brad Daluiso’s five field goals and one touchdown pass by Danny Kanell, when every little thing went awry. A nasty punt by Brad Maynard put the Vikings at midfield, and Randall Cunningham tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jake Reed to bring the Vikings inside 22-20 with 1:30 remaining. All of the Giants needed to do to secure the victory and book a second-round game against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers in Green Bay was to get better the onside kick. They may not do it. Wide receiver Chris Calloway, perhaps probably the most sure-handed player on the roster, couldn’t hang onto the bouncing ball, and the Vikings recovered. Cornerback Phillippi Sparks committed a pass interference penalty, and Eddie Murray hit a 24-yard field goal to win it for the Vikings. Cancel the trip to Lambeau Field. ‘’It’s a really bitter pill to swallow,” Fassel said. Added Kanell, ”It’s like a foul dream and you want you’d get up. It’s probably the worst option to exit.’’
2000 NFC Championship Game
Giants 41, Vikings 0
Jan. 14, 2001 at Giants Stadium
Ike Hilliard scored early within the NFC Championship Game and the Giants were off to the races.REUTERS
This game was played on what franchise patriarch and team owner Wellington Mara lovingly called “a field of painted mud.’’ The surface was a multitude, however the Giants were sublime. It was a game of dreams for Kerry Collins, the revitalized quarterback, who threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns, including a 46-yard howitzer to Ike Hilliard 4 plays into the sport. After the Vikings fumbled the following kickoff, Collins hit fullback Greg Comella ultimately zone, and the rout was on. The heralded Vikings offense was humiliated by a defense under the direction of John Fox. Cornerback Jason Sehorn took all-world receiver Randy Moss out of the sport. Fassel was carried off the sphere on his players’ shoulders. What happened two weeks later in Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa was a shocking downer, and that 34-7 loss to the Ravens unfairly diminishes the love so many Giants fans have for the NFC title game blowout victory.
By the numbers
The Giants were a winning team this season without being a dominant team. They were outscored overall, 371-365. Yet they won nine games, lost seven and tied one.
The ultimate regular-season NFL team stats reflect that the Giants are an ascending team with plenty more work to do. Here is how they finished in the usual team categories:
Total yards: 18th (333.9 yards per game)
Passing yards: twenty sixth (185.7)
Rushing yards: 4th (148.2)
Points scored: sixteenth (21.5)
Saquon Barkley helped the Giants rank fourth within the NFL in rushing offense.USA TODAY Sports
Total yards: twenty fifth (358.2 yards allowed per game)
Passing yards: 14th (214.0)
Rushing yards: twenty seventh (144.2)
Points allowed: 18th (218.0)
The Giants fared higher if you look deeper into the numbers. Here is where they ranked in additional esoteric categories on offense:
First in Third-and-1 and 4th-and-1 conversions (87%)
Second in fewest giveaways (16)
Third in red zone yards per play (3.47)
Tied for third in drives of a minimum of five minutes (33)
Fourth in rushing yards per game (148.2) and total rushing touchdowns (21)
Seventh in red zone touchdown efficiency (63.3%)
Ninth in rushes + completions per game (50.9)
Ninth in third-and-10+ conversions (22.2%)
Julian Love celebrates a takeaway by the Giants defense.AP
The Giants finished in the highest 10 in these defensive categories:
First in red zone takeaways (5)
First in opponents’ third-and-short (lower than 4 yards) conversions (50%)
Tied for second in fumble recoveries (13)
Fourth in fewest points allowed in last two minutes of a half (43)
Fifth in opponents’ red zone touchdown efficiency (49.2%)
Fifth in opponents’ third down conversions (35.1%)
“We’ll see,’’ Daboll said, not once, but twice. That was his response when asked whether wide receiver Kenny Golladay earned some playing time within the playoff game after hauling in a 25-yard touchdown pass Sunday within the regular-season-ending loss to the Eagles.
Kenny Golladay waited until a meaningless regular-season finale to catch his first Giants touchdown pass.AP
What we are going to see, most definitely, is Golladay’s role unchanged when the Giants face the Vikings. Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James helped the Giants secure their first playoff berth since 2016. Golladay didn’t. He was an afterthought. He caught six passes for 81 yards in a forgettable season. The touchdown reception against the Eagles — with the opposite receivers held out to avoid injury — was his first scoring catch in 26 games for the Giants.
“Kenny’s worked hard since he’s been here,’’ Daboll said. “Those three guys have done job for us. Again, every week’s a distinct plan, the best way we would like to do things. I feel every little thing’s on the table.’’
Figure the playoff table Daboll sets has Slayton, Hodgins and James on it and Golladay off to the side.
Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux makes snow angels on the sphere after sacking Colts quarterback Nick Foles.CBS via Twitter
Is that this old news? Possibly. Should we be past this by now? Possibly. Can we examine this one last time? Sure.
Kayvon Thibodeaux already has more sacks as a rookie — 4 — than the combined production of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck of their first Giants seasons. Not bad. But there are some rough spots that should be smoothed out.
Thibodeaux’s snow angel celebration while quarterback Nick Foles was down on the turf throughout the Week 17 rout of the Colts was not mean-spirited, nevertheless it was in bad taste, regardless that Thibodeaux didn’t know at that moment he had injured Foles’ ribs. Thibodeaux saying, “I don’t know who that’s,” while shooting down Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday for ripping the sack celebration was a bit much.
Saturday isn’t any great shakes as a coach, but he was a Hall of Fame-caliber center for 13 years with six Pro Bowls, two first-team All Pro honors and one Super Bowl ring. If Thibodeaux attains anything near those accolades, the Giants will put him of their Ring of Honor. If Thibodeaux doesn’t know who Saturday is, he should discover.
Asked and answered
Listed below are two questions which have come up recently that we’ll try and answer as accurately as possible:
Who’s the Giants’ Most Precious Player this season?
Dexter Lawrence’s play, including his up-the-middle pass rushing ability, stood out amongst Giants performers within the 2022 season.AP
We are usually not going to choose one here at this moment, but consider this: It may very well be Dexter Lawrence. His transition to nose tackle was an amazing success. Once considered a run-stuffer without much pass-rush prowess, Lawrence led the team with 7.5 sacks. He’s tied with Chiefs’ Chris Jones because the top-graded interior defender within the NFL, in line with Pro Football Focus, ahead of the Rams’ Aaron Donald (No. 3) and the Jets’ Quinnen Williams (No. 4). PFF has Lawrence leading the league with 40 pressures from an A-gap (between the middle and the guard) alignment. Next on the list? D.J. Jones of the Broncos, with 13. That is kind of a disparity. When defensive coordinator Wink Martindale called Lawrence the “centerpiece’’ of the defense, he was not blowing smoke.
What type of week will this be for the Giants going right into a playoff game?
It would be a traditional week. A standard workweek, that’s. “Normal’’ for the Giants presently of yr, the past five years, was to have the lockers cleaned out and players scattered across the country after the season got here to an end. The Giants last played on a Sunday and have their playoff game in Minneapolis on Sunday, making this a standard week. Players were in for treatment and conditioning on Monday. Tuesday was the customary break day for the players, though a lot of them, particularly Daniel Jones, made their way into the power for a workout and an early have a look at the sport plan. There will likely be the usual Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for practice. The team will travel on Saturday. Yes, the stakes are higher within the postseason and players are advised to spend more time studying and preparing. But this isn’t akin to cramming for an exam. More isn’t necessarily higher.