Here are a few quick thoughts after the New York Giants’ heart-pounding, critical 20-12 victory on Sunday night over the Washington Commanders.
Kayvon likes prime time
Rookie edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux had said in the buildup to Sunday’s game that “prime time likes me.”
It probably isn’t news, but it is pretty obvious that Thibodeaux likes prime time. His effort Sunday night was the best individual effort by a Giant defender I can remember in some time.
Kayvon Thibodeaux vs Commanders:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 19, 2022
• 12 TOT
• 1 SACK
• 3 TFL
• 1 FF
• 1 TD
The Giants rookie edge with a MONSTER performance pic.twitter.com/XXFvkoIQt4
A monster performance, indeed. And the Giants needed every bit of it to come away with Sunday’s victory.
The questions about when Thibodeaux would turn solid play into huge numbers can stop now.
Kayvon Thibodeaux on his "primetime likes me" comment:— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 19, 2022
"I ain't lie to y'all!" pic.twitter.com/m6bFaZbLK9
Thibodeaux scored a touchdown, saved a touchdown by tackling Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke at the 1-yard line, and did just about everything in between. He even took the unusual step for a rookie of giving teammates a pre-game pep talk.
“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,” he said.
I will admit that while I saw a good player earlier in the season, I wasn’t sure Thibodeaux was going to make the leap to becoming a dominant. I think that question has been answered.
“I’m glad we drafted him,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “Very talented player and he played like it.”
A word about Daniel Jones
I think Jones drive another nail into the coffin of those who would argue that he doesn’t deserve to be brought back to quarterback the Giants next season, and perhaps beyond.
Jones was terrific Sunday night. He completed 21 of 32 for 160 yards, but those numbers really tell you nothing about his night.
On the Giants’ amazing 18-play, 97 yard drive he completed 10 of 12 passes. Included were darts to Richie James for first downs on third-and-9 and fourth-and-9. Jones took hits all night. He ran the ball with toughness, carrying 10 times for 35 yards.
Jones never turned the ball over while his counterpart, Taylor Heinicke of Washington, lost two fumbles and threw a pass right into the hands of Nick McCloud near the end of the game that should have been intercepted.
Jones is playing winning football with limited talent around him. Not sure he can do a whole lot more.
Credit for the analytics guys
Daboll was effusive in his praise of offensive assistant/game manager Cade Knox and Director of Football Data & Innovation Ty Siam after the game.
Daboll has a direct line of communication to both during the game and said he got solid information from them on the critical late-game challenge that led to an overturned call and a Leonard Williams fumble recovery.
“Cade and Ty, they’re really two guys that I lean on a lot during the week in terms of management, clock management, fourth-down decisions, overtime decisions,” he said.
Daboll indicated the fourth-and-9 decision to go for the first down during the 97-yard drive was a decision he made in conjunction with Knox and Siam on Wednesday.
“Everybody contributed to the win,” Daboll said. “Those two guys were certainly a big part of it ... Two Ivy Leaguers. Try to listen to the Ivy Leaguers.”
Washington can only blame itself
There are a lot of complaints from Commanders fans that Darnay Holmes should have been called for pass interference on Washington’s final offensive play. Maybe so, but the Commanders had plenty of opportunities.
They had a touchdown wiped off the board a few plays before that on an illegal formation penalty. They lost a two-point conversion on an offensive pass interference penalty. Heinicke had the two crucial fumbles. They couldn’t stop the Giants on a fourth-and-9.
It’s not over yet
I have already written about the Giants’ and their 87 percent odds to make the playoffs, but they aren’t there yet. They have to win at least one more game against the Vikings, Colts or Eagles. I think at this point they will get there, I just wouldn’t call it a done deal yet.