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Five Things: Week 17 – Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

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The New York Football Giants are in the playoffs! The G-Men dominated the Colts from the get-go and punched their ticket to the playoffs with a convincing 38-10 victory. Here are five things that stood out:

The Curse Has Been Broken

Prior to the Giants’ last playoff game in January 2017 against the Green Bay Packers, the now-infamous boat picture featuring the teams’ wide receivers was released. Since then, it’s felt like a curse has followed this team, but after five straight losing seasons, three head coaches, and some of the most downright uninspiring football many Giants fans have seen, the curse is over.

This wasn’t the only hoodoo to be broken on Sunday, however, as the Giants also put the nail in the coffin on two other scoring stats: the first is that the Giants finally scored over 30 points after failing to do so since an October 2020 loss against Dallas (that’s 43 games ago), and the second is that this is the first time we’ve scored more than 30 points at home since a 36-20 win over the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

So, with a raucous crowd behind them, the Brian Daboll-led Giants broke the curse and secured the sixth seed in the playoffs. They now have the option of resting their starters in the game next week against the current number-one seed Philadelphia Eagles, who ironically do not have the luxury as their defeat to the New Orleans Saints has opened the door for both San Francisco and Dallas to beat them to the punch.

Franchise Quarterback

At the beginning of the season, when it was revealed that the Giants wouldn’t be taking up the fifth-year option in Daniel Jones’s contract, many thought the writing was on the wall for the Duke product, and most of the chatter in the offseason focused on how many weeks Jones would get before Tyrod Taylor would lead the team for the rest of the year. How wrong we all were, and for that, Daniel, we are sorry.

Jones was already posting career numbers prior to the game against the Colts, but his performance in this game was a defining moment for him, with chants of “MVP” ringing around the stadium after he ran in for his second rushing touchdown and a fourth total touchdown. Finishing the game with 177 passing yards, two touchdowns (one to Richie James Jr. and one to Isaiah Hodgins), 91 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 125.2 Jones received a standing ovation from all four corners of the stadium when he was removed from the game on the Giants’ final drive.

The Defensive Front

Although the defence only had two sacks against the Colts, it was yet another stellar performance from the Giants’ defensive line as they finished the game with four quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and one pass defended. This is despite the fact that for a majority of the game they only had two of their fearsome starting front four as Leonard Williams was limited to 29 of the snaps due to a stinger and Azeez Ojulari, who is recovering from last week’s ankle injury, only had six.

Both of the sacks were phenomenal plays, but they will be remembered for very different reasons. Kayvon Thibodeaux was unblocked as he ploughed through Nick Foles, unfortunately injuring the quarterback. A lot of ire has been cast at the young pass rusher as he started to do snow angels next to the injured Foles. It’s my belief that Kayvon had no idea that Foles was badly hurt, and this was backed up by his post-match comments. Dexter Lawrence’s sack, however, will be remembered for how he abused Quenton Nelson, the highest-paid guard in the league, and used him as a weapon to sack Sam Ehlinger in the third quarter.

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Landon Turns Back Time

It’s been a tough few years for Landon Collins. After being drafted by the Giants in 2015, Collins would be named to the all-rookie team, a first-team all-pro in 2016, and a pro bowler for three straight years between 2016 and 2018. The Giants, however, would let him go as an unrestricted free agent after 2018, and after three injury-ridden years in Washington derailed his promising start, he started this season without a team. Collins rejoined the Giants in October, albeit on the practise squad, and was promoted to the active roster on December 22nd.

On Sunday, with the Giants up 14-3 late in the 2nd quarter and the Colts driving near midfield, Collins cut in front of a Nick Foles pass intended for Parris Campbell and returned it to the house for the Giants’ first pick-six of the season. Collins, whose last pick-six was back in 2016 against the then-St. Louis Rams in London, is still only 28 and could be a valuable veteran presence for the Giants for both the rest of the season and beyond.

Coaching Excellence

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Giants have fired three head coaches since their last appearance in the postseason, and during that time, we’ve also gone through four offensive coordinators, three defensive coordinators, and two general managers. The difference now, though, is that we finally have a complete coaching and back-office setup that seems set up for the future, and once we shake off the cap shackles brought on by the Dave Gettleman era, this Giants team could return to the days of competing for the NFC East division every year.

As far as the present goes, we can look forward to a playoff berth that we can be proud of regardless of the outcome, and despite us having a young roster, many of whom have never experienced the playoffs before, we have a coaching staff that has been moulded by them. Brian Daboll was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator for much of their AFC dominance, as well as the Bills’ offensive coordinator in recent years. Wink Martindale coached in four playoff games while in Baltimore, allowing only 20 points per game, and Mike Kafka was the QB coach at Kansas for the past few years, including their Super Bowl victory in 2020.

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Five Things: Week 14 – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

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If there is a way to forget this game and it’s subsequent 48-22 score, then I am more than happy to try it. It was brutal to watch, and I can’t imagine doing this is going to make me feel any better, but the “good, bad, and ugly” theme continues! Here are five things that stood out:

The Good

If I were being brutally honest, the answer would be that the game is over and the Eagles can’t humiliate us anymore. Yes, it’s a damning statement, but after watching almost all of the defeat (thanks Sky Sports for switching to the Dallas game), there really wasn’t a lot to write home about. However, if you look at the bigger picture, there are at least a couple of good trends we can focus on.

Isaiah Hodgins, who seems to have completely taken on the so-called “Kenny Golladay” role, had another solid game, snagging four of his six targets for 38 yards and a touchdown while also adding a two-point conversion in garbage time.

Kayvon Thibodeaux had a good but not spectacular showing (four pressures); however, his counterpart Azeez Ojulari continued his incredible return from injury as he recorded four tackles (two for a loss), two sacks, and two quarterback hits on 41 defensive snaps. There were also sacks from two of our UDFA class members, as Ryder Anderson recorded his first sack and cornerback Zyon Gilbert, who had a drastically reduced workload this week, was also able to get home.

The Bad

Other than some sparks on the pass rush, the defence was almost nonexistent during the game, and Jalen Hurts was able to go up and down the field using both his legs and arm with relative ease.

Hurts, who barely had to get out of first gear in the passing game, completed 21 of 31 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His first was a fourth-and-seven conversion, which was easily avoidable had Julian Love decided to force the incompletion; however, he went all in on the interception, missing the ball completely and allowing Devonta Smith an easy walk-in. His second came only five minutes later after a shocking punt from Gillan (more on that later) gave the Eagles great field position, and Hurts took full advantage with a one-play, 33-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown.

If the passing defence was bad, then the rush was worse. Hurts, Myles Sanders, and Boston Scott combined for four touchdowns and 253 yards on 31 carries. All three had a long of over ten yards, and they all averaged above five yards per carry; in fact, the Eagles averaged a disgusting 8.2 yards per carry. Inexcusable

The Ugly

In what seems to be a running theme for the Giants, our special teams unit outside of the stellar Graham Gano stinks. Admittedly, Elerson Smith did block a punt to set up our first touchdown, but that was the lone good moment.

In the Eagles’ return game, the aforementioned Scott, who seems to always have a career day against the Giants, had 117 total return yards, including a 66-yard return late in the second quarter. On the opposite side, the Giants’ return game was nowhere near as impressive, with the Eagles testing Gary Brightwell’s ability with short kickoffs that amounted to minimal gains, if any.

The punting game, though, is the real reason for this ugly entry. Though three of Gillan’s punts landed inside the 20-yard line, he will be remembered for one complete lapse of concentration in which he not only fumbled the ball as he went to drop it to punt but then followed through to kick the ball after it had bounced, drawing a flag and a 10-yard penalty for illegal kicking that paved the way for the A.J. Brown touchdown.

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Ward of Wisdom

With the stench of defeat fresh in the air, the beat writers started doing their rounds in the locker room, and after veteran defensive end Jihad Ward was asked about the Giants’ recent struggles, the air soon turned blue with his expletive-ridden speech, and for their own sake, the rest of the locker room better take notice:

“It’s December football, man. It’s about who the (expletive) wants it more. You know what I’m saying? There’s more to it than just doing your job. There’s more to it than just knowing the playbook. You have to do more. How bad do you want it?

“Ain’t nobody going to sit here and give it to us. How bad do you really, really want it? “Now is the time where the veterans put (the young players) on that and let them know this (expletive) ain’t no game out here. It’s a bunch of grown (expletive) men. We’re not treating these rookies like young bulls. They’re grown (expletive) men.

“I don’t see no rookie no more in my mother (expletive) eyes. You gotta come with it or you’re going to fold. What are you going to do? You want to sit back and wait until next year? I want it now. That’s the kind of mindset I have and one I expect every single person in this organization to have.”

On To Next Week

I think even the most optimistic Giants fans would have predicted anything other than a loss this week, and the way it went will obviously sting, but in the grand scheme of things, not a lot really changed in the playoff picture, except maybe momentum.

Seattle, who had an opportunity to knock the Giants out of the playoff spots, fell to a shock defeat to the Carolina Panthers, and Washington overtook the Giants into the seventh seed thanks to their superior divisional record.

All in all, it comes down to Sunday Night Football this coming week as the Giants travel to FedExField in what is essentially a make-or-break game for the G-Men. Win, and the playoffs are still a possibility. Lose, and it’s almost game over.