The New York Giants upset the Minnesota Vikings, 31-24, in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs on Sunday afternoon. It was their first playoff win since Super Bowl XLVI.
With the win, the Giants advance and will take on the Philadelphia Eagles this Saturday night in primetime.
Whose stock is up and whose is down after the Wild Card win? Let’s take a look.
Stock up: Daniel Jones
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What can even be said about Daniel Jones at this point? What needs to be said?
In Week 17 against the Indianapolis Colts, Jones carried the Giants to victory and punched their ticket to the playoffs. It was his best career performance in the biggest game of his life, but that took a back seat to Sunday’s performance.
Once again facing the biggest game of his career, Jones shined. He made history with a 379-yard, two-touchdown performance that helped Big Blue move onto the divisional round of the playoffs.
Big players make big plays in big games.
Stock down: Azeez Ojulari
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The Giants defense got a lot better when Azeez Ojulari returned to the lineup but injury issues continue to plague him.
Ojulari was forced to leave Sunday’s Wild Card game after catching a stiff knee to his thigh. He tried to return but could not and will head for additional testing on Monday.
The initial belief is that Ojulari suffered a deep contusion, not additional soft tissue damage. But will he be able to return in time for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles?
Stock up: Isaiah Hodgins
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Isaiah Hodgins has gone from sleeping on a mattress on the floor to becoming Jones’ most-trusted target all in the span of a couple of months.
On Sunday, despite tweaking his ankle and dealing with significant bruising, Hodgins again put Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson in a blender. He hauled in eight receptions on nine targets for 105 yards and one touchdown.
The biggest moment for Hodgins on the night wasn’t the touchdown, but a toe-tapping grab along the sideline with 11:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. The first down helped keep the Giants’ drive alive and they eventually capped it off with a score, putting them up 31-24.
Stock down: Evan Neal
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As well as the Giants’ offensive line played on Sunday, the right side continues to be an issue.
Rookie Evan Neal had his hands full all night and was routinely turned around by Danielle Hunter, who logged a number of pressures, two QB hits and one sack.
Neal has flashed in brief and fleeting moments this season but the Wild Card game was not one of those. He continues to be a liability and arguably the team’s biggest offensive weakness at the moment. He will have to be better against the Eagles.
Stock up: Dexter Lawrence
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Dexter Lawrence is a Pro Bowler. He is an All-Pro. And none of that adequately defines how dominant he’s been this season or how dominant he was on Sunday.
The box score shows six tackles (two solo, one for a loss) and four QB hits. But beyond that, Big Dex also recorded a team-high eight pressures including five from the zero-technique.
The only “knock” on Lawrence was a roughing the pass penalty in the fourth quarter which was a terrible and unwarranted call.
Stock down: Darius Slayton
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Darius Slayton hauled in four receptions for 88 yards on Sunday but he came up small in the biggest moment.
Facing a third-and-15 with 3:07 remaining, Jones his Slayton right in the hands as he came across the middle. With the other receivers having cleared out the defense, Slayton could have cruised for a first down and effectively ended the game.
Instead, the ball bounced off of Slayton’s hands and to the turf. The Giants were forced to punt.
Although the defense hung on and Big Blue picked up the win, it could have been a killer mistake by Slayton. He knew it and had to be consoled on the sideline by both head coach Brian Daboll and running back Saquon Barkley.