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Unsatisfying tie leaves Commanders, Giants in thick of NFC playoff hunt

Sunday featured a rare December game that mattered for a pair of longtime NFC East rivals who used to play high-stakes matchups with regularity.

It ended with an emphatic thud.

In a game with playoff implications for both, the Washington Commanders and New York Giants played to a 20-20 tie. While unsatisfying for both, the result keeps the Commanders (7-5-1) and the Giants (7-4-1) in the thick of the NFC playoff race.

The result left both teams in the playoff picture with FiveThirtyEight's projection model giving both teams a better-than-50% chance of making the postseason.

A rematch in Week 15 looms large for both teams.

The clubs entered Week 13 on the right side of a playoff picture that produced four NFC East postseason contenders. They started the day headed very much in different directions. After a 1-4 start, the Commanders improved to 7-5 behind a resurgent defense and an offense steadied by the unlikely hand of Taylor Heinicke. Washington entered the game 5-1 with Heinicke as a starter following the rough start with Carson Wentz at quarterback.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 04: Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Commanders and Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants embrace after a game at MetLife Stadium on December 04, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Giants, meanwhile, lost three of four games following a 6-1 start that has looked like a mirage since the midpoint of the season.

Sunday's start of the game looked like more of the same as New York quarterback Daniel Jones fumbled on the Giants' first drive after being stripped by defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.

Turnovers — fumbles in particular — plagued the 2019 first-round draft pick through his first three seasons. His improved ball control in 2022 played a big factor in New York's hot start. But he put his team in an early hole Sunday as the Commanders converted the turnover into a field goal. A touchdown pass from Heinicke to Terry McLaurin on Washington's next drive extended the lead to 10-0 and it appeared to have Washington on track for a critical win.

But the Giants weren't done. After New York got on the board with a field goal, Jones got the offense moving with a 55-yard strike to Darius Slayton early in the second quarter. The deep play ultimately set up Saquon Barkley for a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 10-10.

A third-quarter touchdown from Jones to Isaiah Hodgins gave New York a 20-13 lead, and put the pressure squarely back on the Commanders. They responded.

After failing to find the end zone in the second and third quarters, the Commanders tied the game at 20-20 with a 90-yard drive late in the fourth quarter. The eight-play drive included a conversion on fourth-and-4 and ended with a 28-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown by rookie receive Jahan Dotson.

The Giants got the ball back with 1:45 remaining and a chance to ice the game with a late scoring drive. Instead, they went three-and-out and saw Slayton drop a deep pass on first down that would have set the Giants up near midfield. The Commanders failed to convert on their final chance in regulation, and the game went to overtime.

Washington's defense came up big after the Giants won the coin toss. With New York threatening to cross midfield, Daron Payne secured Washington's fourth sack of the day, sending Jones to a 7-yard loss on third-and-5. But Washington's offense failed to respond and punted after five plays on its ensuing possession.

The teams then traded two more punts before Graham Gano's 58-yard field-goal attempt for the Giants fell short as time ran out.

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