The Giants offense is showing signs of coming out with a playoff berth in sight

It wasn’t trouble-maker Kelly leaking out there catching passes, Amanda Wurlitzer wasn’t throwing touchdowns, and hot-headed Tanner Boyle wasn’t digging a long field goal. And this certainly wasn’t eccentric Morris Buttermaker directing the home team from the sideline.

The Giants didn’t lose on Saturday to a handful of…

We weren’t playing Bad News Bears,” said receiver Darius Slayton. “That’s probably the two seeded in the NFC. They’ve got a lot of good players. I definitely don’t think it changes our view of our team. We know we’ve got a good team, and we just have to make more plays to win the game.”

Quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws a pass against the Vikings on Dec. 24, 2022.
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post

Yes indeed, the Giants didn’t win their Week 16 matchup with the Vikings, sending home the wrong end of a 27-24 loss at US Bank Stadium, delaying the playoff-clinching celebration by at least eight days. The Giants have done more on offense in this loss than they have in many wins this season, which has been both encouraging and frustrating for them. They scored two touchdowns and Graham Gano kicked three field goals, which is more production than usual for a team that is often challenged to put together a good drive and then another, and then another.

The 445 yards the Giants gained on inside rushing against a suspect defensive tackle Vikings was their highest total in more than one calendar year. His 319 net passing yards was the second highest total for the season. In contrast to the 324 net yards that running back Daniel Jones passed in Week 11 on the Lions, this time the Giants weren’t in complete running back mode the entire second half — they actually led 13-10 after three quarters.

Jones completed a career-high 30 passes. Three Giants — Saquon Barkley, Isaiah Hudgens and Richie James — have made eight receptions, and two of them, Hodgins and James, are wide receivers making that a rarity for a team that got through this season without, for one reason or another, the expected top four targets: Sterling Shepherd (injured), Toni Cadarius (rolled), Kenny Juladay (inactive) and rookie Wandell Robinson (injured). The Giants had the three longest receptions in this game — James for 33 yards, Slayton for 32 yards and Hodgins for 29 yards — with super talent Justin Jefferson and the time-tested Adam Thieln on the field for the Vikings not a statistical feat anyone would have expected.

A look at the Giants' playoff chances after Saturday's games.
A look at the Giants’ playoff chances after Saturday’s games.
New York Post illustration

“I think we had a good plan going in and a few things to attack what they were doing, and I thought the guys stepped up and made some plays for us,” said Jones. “The offensive line played great. Sakon played great. The receivers made some big plays too.”

If next Sunday the Giants (8-6-1) beat the Colts (4-9-1 prior to Monday night’s game against the Chargers), they’ll have a playoff moment at MetLife Stadium, because the Giants don’t need any help. to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016. The Giants may not need an offensive display of strength to get the job done. Moving forward, though, if they were to be more than one team in the NFC Championship, they’d probably have to move the ball the way they did in Minneapolis and also limit the fouls that kept their point totals down. And in the end robbed them of an upset from the Vikings now 12-3.

There was an interception by Jones when he threw a bit behind Hodgins and was picked off by Patrick Peterson – after an unannounced Hodgins beat Peterson for most of the game. There was a fumble by Daniel Bellinger as the Giants closed in on the red zone. There was a costly drop in the third by James, who played an otherwise solid game. There were penalties on left guard Nick Gates and center John Feliciano for giving up possessions.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes for a touchdown against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes for a touchdown against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post
Giant wide receiver Richie James tackles a long pass against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Giant wide receiver Richie James tackles a long pass against the Vikings on December 24, 2022.
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post

“I think we’ve been moving the ball all day up and down the field,” said midfielder John Feliciano. “We really shot ourselves with penalties and conversions. They created the conversions so I’m not trying to take anything from them. We can’t turn the ball over and we have a lot of penalties.”

The Giants saved their best in the end. Trailing 24-16 with three minutes remaining, Jones connected with Slayton for a 32-yard touchdown run to breathe life into a despondent drive. Barkley capped it off by finding a passer up the middle and exploiting a gap in the Vikings’ defense on his 27-yard rush to bring the Giants within 24-22 with 2:01 to go. The two-point conversion play called for Jones to roll to his right and locate one of his targets. He did, showing great patience before lofting the ball to the back of the end zone, where Bellinger was there to make the catch to tie the game.

“We get a good little move with our receivers and try to box that right side so the DJ has options,” Bellinger said. “I just tried to get lost behind the lockers. I think DJ made a really good throw. It felt like she was in there for an hour.”

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

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