NY Giants 38, Colts 10: Daniel Jones leads Big Blue back to the playoffs in finest moment

NY Giants 38, Colts 10: Daniel Jones leads Big Blue back to the playoffs in finest moment

Art Stapleton
 

NFL writer

EAST RUTHERFORD – Jihad Ward was the schemer and Julian Love was his willing accomplice.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock inside MetLife Stadium, the Giants’ teammates circled around head coach Brian Daboll and their secretive mission was launched into action. They hoisted the Gatorade bucket and blindsided Daboll with a post-game celebratory bath on the sideline to commemorate Sunday’s 38-10 victory over the Colts that clinched a playoff berth for Big Blue, the first for the franchise in six years.

“It was sticky and wet,” Daboll said with a laugh. “It was good excitement, obviously. You work hard in this business to try to give yourself a chance to play extra innings or more games. So, we have done that. We put ourselves in a position to compete more than just one other game. So, excitement, sure. Definitely.”

The Giants (9-6-1) will close out the regular season in Philadelphia against the NFC East-leading Eagles, who lost to the Saints on Sunday and have yet to clinch the division. So while the Giants are locked into the sixth seed, the Eagles must win to secure what, to this point, had been their anticipated playoff placement.

Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more scores, rushing for 91 yards in a performance that culminated with the MetLife Stadium crowd chanting his name. Landon Collins returned an interception of Nick Foles 52 yards for a touchdown during a 24-point second quarter as the Giants erased an early 3-0 deficit.

The Giants will now await to see who they will play in the NFC Wild Card round with possible games against Minnesota in a rematch of their Christmas Eve clash, won by the Vikings on a 61-yard field goal as time expired; or San Francisco.

The most likely scenario will be a return to Minneapolis if San Francisco beats Atlanta in Week 18.

Here’s a look at highlights from the rest of the game:

Kayvon Thibodeaux had another one of those sacks that make you go “ouch” for the quarterback, and the Colts’ Nick Foles was on the receiving end.

Thibodeaux came off the line cleanly and decked Foles from his blindside, and both players wound up on the MetLife Stadium turf. As Foles writhed in pain beside him, Thibodeaux was doing snow angels in celebration.

Landon Collins is the only Giants player in uniform today who was in a Giants uniform the last time the franchise played in the playoffs. He has been emerging within the defense the last few weeks after being promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, and the big splash happened Sunday.

Collins made a great read of a Nick Foles throw to the sideline, undercut the route and picked off the pass, racing the rest of the way for a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.

Daniel Jones fixed some of the issues that hindered his progress and production, but he has added necessary enhancements to his game. The Giants are keeping defenses on their heels when Jones uses his legs to navigate the pocket, giving himself options on the move.

He did that with the two-point play to Daniel Bellinger against the Vikings, in addition to a pair of touchdown throws to Isaiah Hodgins, off-script, above the X’s and O’s plays that separate the average from above average and extraordinary quarterback play in today’s NFL.

Jones did it again early in the second quarter Sunday, finding Richie James in the front of the end zone when he bounced away from pressure for a 6-yard touchdown connection as the Giants took a 7-3 lead.

The Giants will welcome back safety Xavier McKinney, who was activated from the non-football injury list Saturday. He is expected to make his return after missing nine games due to a hand injury suffered on an ATV accident during the bye week in Cabo.

Azeez Ojulari is active after leaving the Minnesota game with his ankle injury. Sounds like Ojulari will play, but expect Oshane Ximines to spell him today opposite Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Giants don’t want to push Ojulari too much, working him back into the lineup.

Sterling Shepard will be there on the Giants’ sideline tomorrow, waving anything he can swing feverishly in the air to fire up the home crowd. The longest tenured player on the team, Shepard tore his ACL in September, but he’s been a fixture this season despite not being able to play for the last three months.

But knowing the Giants can reach the playoffs by beating the Colts, and it’d be the first trip to the postseason for the franchise since his rookie season, Shepard can’t wait to root Big Blue on to what he hopes ends in celebration.

“I’m invested in this team, I’m invested in my guys, and I want this for them,” Shepard told NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY Network. “But also, I’m invested in this organization. This is my home. We’ve been through so much together, we deserve to go out and earn this.”

Giants: CB Adoree’ Jackson, S Dane Belton, CB Rodarius Williams, LB Jarrad Davis, G Wyatt Davis, G Jack Anderson, TE Lawrence Cager

This content was originally published here.

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