Heading into Week 15, the Giants weren’t playing good football at all, as they haven’t won in five of their last six games. After such a great start to the season, many questioned whether it was a fluke and if the team was talented enough to make the playoffs. They had a game this week to prove that they belonged and put themselves in a prime position to make the postseason and they did just that on Sunday Night Football against Washington.
The Giants went on to beat the Commanders 20-12 Sunday Night that brung back memories of old showdowns between the two teams. It was nasty, and physical, and showed the desires of both teams as they share a common goal of making the playoffs in January. A star was born for the Giants during the game as rookie EDGE Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux had an excellent game, recording 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, and a strip-sack fumble in the second quarter that he recovered for a touchdown. The offense made plays when it had to and that resulted in the team’s biggest win since at least 2016. Things are now looking up for Big Blue and here are three takeaways from Sunday’s enormous win.
1. Kayvon Thibodeaux Is That Dude
When the lights are on and the stage is the biggest, that’s when Kayvon Thibodeaux shines the brightest. He said it himself earlier this week when asked if he likes primetime. He responded, “Primetime likes me.” That certainly seemed to be the case as he had the best game of his early career as he had 12 tackles and three tackles for loss. He also had the play of the day, recording a strip-sack fumble on Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke, then picking the ball up and returning it for the touchdown.
It was an unreal play by Thibodeaux and one that swung the momentum into the Giants’ favor. Another thing that was important was that after the game, Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley mentioned how Thibodeaux went up before the team and gave them a pep talk, which is very rare to see from a rookie. Thibodeaux commented on it and said it was something he thought had to be done.
“Something came out of me man. I went and called them up. I felt the fire, I felt the passion. I’m a guy, because I’m a rookie, because I’m young, because I’m new, I haven’t stepped in that leader role, hanging on to my vets and being on their side along the way. So I just felt the moment to speak my truth and when I did, everybody felt me and we just went to start the game off hot,” said Thibodeaux after Sunday’s game.
That’s something you don’t usually see from a rookie but shows the leader he’s about to come for this football team. The Giants haven’t had a pass rusher like Thibodeaux since Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. It’s an important position to have star players at and with Azeez Ojulari on the other side, the Giants are set up for years of success at the EDGE Rusher position.
2. Saquon Showed Up At Key Spots
Saquon Barkley would be the first person to tell you this, but for the last four weeks, he hasn’t played up to his usual standards. He’s been limited in his rushing yards and really everything in general. He needed a good game badly and got one on Sunday Night. He ran the ball 18 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry which are way up from the 2.9 yards per carry he’s averaged over the last four weeks.
The biggest welcome sign that came from Sunday’s game for Barkley was that when the Giants needed him most, he delivered. To cap off the Giants 18 play, 97-yard drive in the second quarter, Saquon took the ball out of wildcat and ran it into the endzone. It was a key play that ended a very successful drive. Then in the fourth when the Giants needed to drain some time and move the ball, Saquon had his best drive of the day. He took three straight runs for ten or more yards, putting the Giants in position to kick a field goal that extended their lead to eight. It was a game that Barkley needed to have and one that the Giants were glad to get.
3. Daniel Jones May Have Earned Himself Another Year With The Giants
Speaking of people who needed a good performance, Giants Quarterback Daniel Jones was under a ton of pressure Sunday Night. He’s never won a game in primetime and he needed a win to get that monkey off his shoulders. He played well, throwing for 160 yards on 21 completions. He didn’t turn the ball over, even though he almost fumbled the ball but was called down by contact. The most impressive thing from Jones on Sunday Night was his poise in the pocket.
Jones felt pressure all night from his right side as rookie Right Tackle Evan Neal struggled against a stout Commanders defensive line. Jones wasn’t fazed as he evaded the rush and got the ball where it needed to go. Jones was doing this all with starting receivers of the likes of Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins. He’s making the receivers around him better with where he’s placing the ball, which is an impressive quality to have. There were doubts before the season about whether or not Jones would be around next season as he is in the final year of his contract. However, with him finally getting a primetime win and with him poised for his first trip to the postseason, it might be best to bring him back on a short-term deal.