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Giants vs. Wild Card Round report card: Brilliant stuff

Grading the Giants’ 31-24 win over the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card round in Minnesota on Sunday.

Offense

This was a star turn from Daniel Jones. The ball was put in his hands and he passed it (24 of 35, 301 yards, 2 TDs) and ran with it (17-78) and moved the pile on two sneaks and did not turn it over. Brilliant stuff. Saquon Barkley was a bigger factor as a pass-catcher (5-56) than he was as a rusher (9-53), and he bowled over 325-pound DT Dalvin Tomlinson on his 2-yard TD plunge. WR Isaiah Hodgins (8-105) beat CB Patrick Peterson on a 14-yard TD in the first quarter and made a brilliant leaping catch on the game-winning drive. Darius Slayton (4-88) was a big-play target and he got to exhale after his huge fourth-quarter drop did not ultimately cost his team. Line allowed three sacks but gave Jones enough time. Lots of yards (431) and great efficiency (7 of 13) on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down.

Grade: A+

Defense

It started out grim and ended up gritty. What happened to super-receiver Justin Jefferson? He had four catches for 30 yards on the opening drive and finished with only seven receptions for 47 yards. Getting CB Adoree’ Jackson back made a difference. Kirk Cousins (31 of 39, 273 yards, 2 TDs) was accurate and was not sacked but he did not come up with the truly big play. Dexter Lawrence handed the Vikings a first down on the opening series with an encroachment penalty and his roughing-the-passer penalty late was a tough call. Jackson snuffed out a trick play to drop Cousins for a 2-yard loss. Tony Jefferson and Landon Collins had no answers for TE T.J. Hockenson (10-129), but order was restored when Xavier McKinney got a shot at Hockenson. McKinney and Jefferson prevented Hockenson from picking up a first down by inches in the fourth quarter. Darnay Holmes was on the scene to snuff out short passes to Dalvin Cook.

Grade: B+

Giants
Daniel Jones runs the ball against the Vikings on Sunday.
Corey Sipkin

Special Teams

Graham Gano hit his only field-goal attempt, from 25 yards and he limited the Vikings kick return game with five touchbacks. Jamie Gillan punted only twice, averaged 45 yards and pinned the Vikings back at the 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Richie James made the most of a booming punt with a 10-yard return to get the Giants out of the shadow of their own end zone in the first quarter. Carter Coughlin was called for a holding penalty on kickoff return late in the second quarter. Nick McCloud nearly had a game-changing play in the third quarter, forcing a muffed punt by Jalen Reagor but the Vikings recovered the loose ball.

Grade: A

Coaching

Brian Daboll continued to push the envelope with his aggressive tendencies, twice eschewing punts to go for it on fourth down. He was rewarded both times. He certainly had his team ready to play. Daboll declined a holding penalty on the Vikings late in the second quarter, a decision that did not pan out when the Vikings converted on third-and-9. Mike Kafka called some nifty plays, keeping the Vikes off-balance with Barkley coming out of the backfield as a target and using Jones’ running ability time after time. Wink Martindale in the second half really slowed down the Minnesota attack and found a way to quiet the dangerous Jefferson.

Grade: A+

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