What we learned from Giants’ 31-24 win over Vikings

The New York Giants defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 31-24, at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday in the Super Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs. It is their first postseason win since defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI eleven years ago.

The Giants now advance to the NFC Divisional Round this Saturday night against the hated Philadelphia Eagles.

We learned a lot about this Giants team over the past year. Here are a few more things we learned on Sunday.

 

The Giants are back

The Giants came into this season having lost 10 or more games in seven of their last eight seasons. They appear to have finally gotten off that losing treadmill this season under first-year general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll.

Giants co-owner John Mara, who has been the public face of the franchise the past decade, showing lots of emotion and apologizing to the fans, was quick to let the world know his team is back in the fray.

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Co-owner Steve Tisch is usually in the background but this playoff victory compelled him to make a rare statement.

“My family and I are proud of the players, coaches and staff and how everyone throughout the entire organization has worked together to make this a successful season,” Tisch said as per the New York Post. “We are happy for the Giants fans who have endured some tough times with us in recent years. We appreciate their support, passion and enthusiasm.

“Joe [Schoen] and [Brian Daboll] have laid the foundation for continued success. We all agree there is much work left to be done. Their shared vision and constant dialogue is always about what is best for the organization, as is their consistent approach day in and day out and the great communication with John [Mara] and me.”

No doubts about that Jones kid now

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When the Giants drafted quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, many scoffed — present company included.

On Sunday, the biggest game of Jones’ four-year rollercoaster career here, he completed 24-of-35 passes for 301 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.1. He was just as dangerous on the ground, leading the Giants with 78 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Jones is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 300-plus pass yards, two-plus touchdown passes and 70-plus rushing yards in a playoff game.

The Giants have already made their mind up about keeping Jones in the fold even though they declined his fifth-year option before the season. They will not let him see the light of free agency in two months. He will either receive a contract extension or the franchise tag — or both.

For all of his detractors, you have to be won over by now. If not, please let us know who you plan on replacing Jones with. We’ll wait.

Are the Giants this year's hot team?

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs don’t always end with the best teams in the Super Bowl. There’s usually a hot team that knifed their way into the big game.

The Giants were 7-2 after their Week 10 victory over Houston but then went into a tailspin, going 0-3-1 over their next four. They have obviously righted the ship since then, finishing the regular season 2-2 but were perhaps more impressive in their two losses.

The win in Minnesota showed the world this ragtag group consisting of much-maligned high draft picks, underachieving free agents, green first- and second-year players, and a group of guys taken off the street out of desperation this season due to injuries might just be that hot team this January.

Less Barkley adds up to more

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The Giants’ offense usually revolves around running back Saquon Barkley. Sometimes that works while other times it doesn’t.

On Sunday, Barkley touched the ball just 15 times but made his touches count. Perhaps that was by design. Saquon rushed for 53 yards on nine attempts — a 5.9 average — and scored twice. He also caught five of six targets for another 56 yards.

It was a strategic use of Barkley that worked well. A fresh Barkley throughout the game might be a thing to look for going forward.

Receivers come through

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants’ receiving corps is an eclectic group that no NFL team would be comfortable putting out on the field. The names don’t exactly excite the average NFL fan.

Don’t tell them or the Giants that. The biggest story of course is Isaiah Hodgins, the in-season waiver claim who has played like a 10-year pro. On Sunday, Hodgins caught eight of nine targets for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Darius Slayton had a frustrating drop late in the fourth quarter that thankfully did not cost the Giants the game. He has had an interesting season going from the doghouse to the starting lineup. He amassed 88 yards on the four catches he did make.

Tight end Daniel Bellinger got into the end zone again on a nine-yard pass from Jones in the third quarter. Let’s not forget the contributions of Richie James Jr. He had four grabs for 31 yards but has become reliable again.

For those who thought Kenny Golladay had played his way back into the passing game after making a great catch in the regular season finale, think again. He was not targeted in the game but did make a key block.

Story originally appeared on Giants Wire