- READ: Giants to play at top-seeded Eagles on Saturday in Divisional Round
- READ: Vikings HC O'Connell, QB Cousins explain fourth-and-8 throw short of sticks
- READ: Giants HC Daboll 'proud' of Daniel Jones after record-setting performance
- READ: From waiver claim to playoff standout: WR Hodgins breaks out in win
- New York's stunning run continues. The Giants weren't supposed to be here, folks. New York entered 2022 with a roster that admittedly lacked talent in key spots, but a hot start put it squarely in the playoff picture. Getting to the playoffs would have been enough to make Brian Daboll's first season a smashing success, but the rookie head coach wasn't done there. He schemed up a creative offense that proved to be difficult for Minnesota to stop, converting 7 of 13 third downs and averaging 6.3 yards per offensive play. The Giants proved they weren't just happy to be there, but wanted to win, and win they did, taking down the third-seeded Vikings in their home by finishing with a seven-minute advantage in time of possession, compiling scoring drives that ranged from four plays to 20, and avoiding crushing mistakes. New York enjoyed excellent performances from the likes of the rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton, who had a great day that was almost ruined by a late drop on third down. Daboll coached aggressively, going for it on fourth-and-1 on multiple occasions and directing his players to push Daniel Jones across the line to gain. When the dust settled, Daboll had his first career playoff win, adding to what has already been a wonderful year for a team that hasn't tasted postseason success since Eli Manning was leading them to a Lombardi Trophy 11 years ago. Now that is what we call an excellent hire.
- Daniel Jones authors signature performance. Jones' 2022 season has been a revelation, and Sunday was the high-water mark for him. Jones was sharp throughout the game, completing 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but it was about more than just his passing. Jones led the Giants in rushing, scrambling for extra yards when necessary and turning designed runs into positive gains. He finished with a combined yardage total of 379, powering New York's offense, building an early 17-7 lead and preventing the Vikings from getting the stops they needed. Jones didn't quite channel his inner Tom Brady on Sunday, but he didn't need to. He did it his own way and avoided mistakes, dropping a few dimes along the way and executing Daboll's offense exactly as the coach intended. Instead of existing as the butt of far too many jokes, Jones has become a viable quarterback for New York and saved his best for the playoffs.
- Giants' defense shines in big spot. When these teams met in Week 16, Justin Jefferson played a big part in Minnesota's last-second win, catching 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. He was off to a quality start once again Sunday, catching six passes for 43 yards in the first two quarters and attracting so much attention on a goal-to-go play, New York left K.J. Osborn wide open for a touchdown in the final minute of the half. Unlike the first meeting, though, New York decided Jefferson wouldn't be the one to beat them a second time around. The Giants effectively eliminated Jefferson from the game in the second half, holding him to one catch for four yards in the final two quarters and forcing Cousins to look elsewhere. He often turned to Hockenson, which worked well enough to keep the Vikings within striking distance into the game's final minutes, but Cousins' dependence on the tight end doomed them when he threw a pass to T.J. Hockenson on fourth-and-8 and gained just three yards, turning it over on downs and ending Minnesota's hopes of a comeback. It wasn't just about limiting Jefferson, either. New York's front four was a pressure-creating machine Sunday, with Dexter Lawrence (eight), Leonard Williams (seven) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (six) harassing Cousins to the tune of 21 combined QB pressures and 14 hits on Cousins. Jefferson is an All-Pro for many good reasons, enough to force the Giants to pay attention to him. Wink Martindale's game plan worked to perfection, keeping the star -- and the rest of Minnesota's offense -- from hurting them, sending the Giants to the Divisional Round.
- Vikings' magic runs out. Minnesota proved it was among the best ever in close games, winning all 11 of its games decided by one score in the 2022 season. The arrival of the postseason spelled the end of that run. In what felt like a heavyweight title fight, the Vikings and Giants traded blows for much of the game, remaining within 10 points of each other throughout the duration of the game. When the Vikings needed a couple of key stops, they got them. But for the first time this season, Cousins and the Vikings couldn't win the tight one. What might pain Minnesota most is there wasn't one significant mistake that cost them the game. The Vikings can look back on this contest and lament Christian Darrisaw's false start on fourth-and-1 earlier in the game, and an inability to keep Jones from gaining a first down in multiple fourth-down situations. They probably wish they'd looked toward Jefferson more often in the second half. But above all, Minnesota can only tip its cap to New York, a team that the Vikings narrowly defeated less than a month ago. This time around, the Giants got the best of them.
- Kevin O'Connell had a great first year, but what's next? Without a better available option, Cousins isn't going anywhere in 2023, at least. Most of Minnesota's core is returning. And through 18 weeks, it was enough to win the vast majority of their games. But as the football world will agree, this Vikings team never had the look of a true title contender. A 13-4 regular-season record is great on paper, but all it got Minnesota was a first-round exit at home. So where do they go from here? The Vikings will have a few questions to answer defensively, including whether they'll get another productive season from Patrick Peterson or wave goodbye to the 32-year-old. They'll need to work on a long-term extension with Hockenson. And they'll also have to massage their salaries in order to get under the cap in 2023, which could include a departure of mainstays Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith. Most of this roster is good enough to get back to this spot next season, but with the Packers failing to reach the postseason, this has to feel like a bit of a waste to Minnesota. This offseason will be important in setting the course for the next few years ahead.
Next Gen stat of the game: Dexter Lawrence's eight QB pressures are the most by a defensive tackle in a postseason game in the Next Gen Stats era, which dates back to 2016.
NFL Research: Daniel Jones became the first quarterback in NFL postseason history with 300-plus passing yards, two-plus passing touchdowns and 70-plus rushing yards in a game.