Going into Week 15, the New York Giants had the same record (7-5-1) as the division rival they played to a tie two weeks prior. This despite the Giantsg gettin off to a surprising, yet still thunderous, 6-1 start to the 2022 season.
Injuries, and roster limitations, had tripped up Big Blue by Dec. 18. With their Week 13 matchup against the Washington Commanders ending in a tie, a loss last night could have left them vulnerable to missing the playoffs, especially with a Christmas Eve matchup against the Minnesota Vikings who are hogging all of the holiday good fortune.
Saquon Barkley gave the Commanders fits all night. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux had his best game as a pro (sack, fumble, recovery, touchdown), and Daniel Jones was able to make the Giants’ quick passing enough of a threat to hold off an impressive Commanders defensive line.
But what truly spurred the Giants to a timely victory that puts them in excellent position to clinch their first playoff berth since the 2016 season yacht photo, was simply timely playmaking.
The Commanders played well on Sunday night. Brian Robinson Jr. had the best game of his rookie season, averaging 7.4 yards per carry against the struggling Giants run defense — the Studio 54 animation might have been the best one of the year for Sunday Night Football. He, Taylor Heinicke, and the Commanders’ wide receiving corps had great success against the Giants, but as a team, they made too many mistakes to win.
Yes, the Commanders bore the brunt of a couple of bad calls. That “illegal pick” on that successful 2-point conversion certainly hurt, as did that missed pass interference call in the endzone on their final possession.
However, it’s the Commanders’ fault that they got called for illegal formation on that final drive, moving their 3rd and Goal from the one yard line to the six. Also, they likely would’ve already taken the lead if Taylor Heinicke hadn’t fumbled deep in the Giants’ territory on the previous drive, one that video replay revealed.
The Giants played a fairly clean game. Jones and Barkely were able to keep the Commanders’ mammoth defensive line at bay all night. The Giants’ coaches should take a look at the film of this game whenever they have a bad day, because the way that the players executed the game plan was the difference. That and Thibodeaux’s monster effort, even it had him sucking wind for much of the second half.
These two teams are fairly evenly matched, but the Commanders do have more explosive offensive talent. In a tough spot, Heinicke can simply launch the football in the general direction of his wide receivers and expect them to make a huge play. Jones doesn’t have that luxury with the Giants. Barkley is a great running back, but him in the backfield is not as impactful as Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin, and Jahan Dotson are running down field.
However, as Bret Hart taught us, there is excellence in execution. The Giants went up on the Commanders early, made plays in crucial moments, and by outexecuting their opponent for the majority of the game, it’s looking like the G-Men will be playing football in late January.