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It wasn’t a pesky Kelly Leake catching passes, and it wasn’t Amanda Wurlitzer throwing touchdown passes, and it wasn’t a hot-blooded Tanner Boyle digging a long, long field goal. And it certainly wasn’t the ferocious Maurice Buttermaker directing the hosts from the sideline.

The Giants didn’t lose a bunch of, well, a bunch of… on Saturday.

“We weren’t playing the Bad News Bears,” receiver Darius Slayton said. “It’s potentially a two seed in the NFC. They have very good players. I definitely don’t think it changes our team’s perspective. We know we have a good team, we just need to play a few more games to win the game.”

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) catches a pass against the Vikings on Dec. 24, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Yes, indeed, the Giants didn’t win their Week 16 matchup with the Vikings, sent home on the wrong end of a 27-24 loss at US Bank Stadium that delayed the playoff celebration for at least eight days. The Giants did more on offense in this loss than they have in several wins this season, which was both encouraging and frustrating for them. They had two touchdowns and Graham Gano made three field goals, and that’s more than usual for a team that all too often struggles to put together one good drive, then another, and then another.

The 445 yards the Giants gained on a rushing ground against a compromised and questionable Vikings defensive back is their most in a calendar year. The 319 net passing yards were their second-highest this season. Unlike the 324 net yards that Daniel Jones had in Week 11 against the Lions, the Giants weren’t back in full mode this time for the entire second half; they actually led 13-10 after three quarters.

Jones finished with a career-high 30 assists. Three Giants — Saquon Barkley, Isaiah Hodgins, and Richie James — have eight receptions, and that two of them, Hodgins and James, are wide receivers, which is rare for a team that has gone this season without one for one reason or another. , the projected top four targets: Sterling Shepard (injured), Kadarius Toney (traded), Kenny Golladay (ineffective) and rookie Van Dale Robinson (injured). That the Giants had the three longest receptions in the game — James’ 33 yards, Slayton’s 32 yards and Hodgins’ 29 yards — isn’t a statistical feat for the Vikings on the field with the supremely talented Justin Jefferson and the time-tested Adam Thielen. would wait

A look at where the Giants' playoff chances stand after Saturday's games.
A look at where the Giants’ playoff chances stand after Saturday’s games.
NY Post illustration

“I think we had a good plan, something to attack everything they were doing, and I thought guys stepped up and made some plays for us,” Jones said. “The offensive line played great. Saku played great. The receivers also made some big plays.”

If the Giants (8-6-1) beat the Colts (4-9-1 before Monday night’s game against the Chargers) next Sunday, they will enjoy a pivotal playoff moment at MetLife Stadium because the Giants don’t need help. to make the postseason for the first time since 2016. The Giants may not need a show of offensive power to get this one done. Moving forward, though, if they’re going to be more than a one-and-done team in the NFC Tournament, they’ll likely need to move the ball like they did in Minneapolis as well as limit the mistakes that kept their point total down. and ultimately took their upset of the now 12-3 Vikings.

There was an interception by Jones when he threw lightly behind Hodgins and was picked off by Patrick Peterson; after the unheralded Hodgins outplayed the heralded Peterson for most of the game. With the Giants approaching in the red zone, rookie Daniel Bellinger’s fumble happened. A costly third down was picked up by James, who otherwise had a strong game. There were penalties to left guard Nick Gates and center John Feliciano to compromise the possession.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Giants wide receiver Richie James catches a long pass against the Vikings on Dec. 24, 2022.
Giants wide receiver Richie James catches a long pass against the Vikings on Dec. 24, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I think all day we were moving the ball up and down the field,” center John Feliciano said. “We really hit ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. They created the turnovers, so I’m not trying to take anything away from them. We just can’t turn the ball over and we have a lot of penalties.”

Offensively, the Giants saved their best for last. Trailing 24-16 with three minutes left, Jones connected with Slayton for 32 yards to give life to a desperation drive. Barkley overcame it, finding a lane up the middle and taking advantage of a gap in the Vikings defense for a 27-yard touchdown run to bring the Giants within 24-22 with 2:01 to go. A two-point conversion play called for Jones to roll to his right and find one of his targets. He did, showing great patience before lofting the ball into the back of the end zone, where Bellinger was there to make the game-tying catch.

“We get a good little movement with our receivers and try to create a box on that right side so DJ has options,” Bellinger said. “I was just trying to get lost behind the safes. I think DJ made a really good throw. It felt like he had been there for an hour.”

On offense, Giants players can look back and wonder what might have happened if the game had gone into overtime. Kirk Cousins ​​found Jefferson 17 yards out on a third-down throw that led to Greg Joseph’s 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Jones and the rest of the offense will have to wait a week to see if there is any carryover effect with the good signs they showed in Minnesota.

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