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Giants-Colts ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Playoff party edition

Lots of praise to be handed out as Giants earn first playoff berth since 2016 season

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a playoff party for the New York Giants as they qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2016 with their 38-10 rout of the Indianapolis Colts. Let’s get to the ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review, where there is a lot of praise and just a little grudging criticism.

Kudos to ...

Daniel Jones — What Jones did Sunday is what good quarterbacks need to do — lead their team to victory in games they have to win. Yes, the Colts are terrible. The Giants though, still had to take advantage of them. Jones made sure they did.

I wrote most of my Sunday night ‘things I think’ column about Jones, so I’m not going to go into great detail here. This, though, was Jones at his best. Four touchdowns — two passing, two running. Using his legs. Showing toughness.

Jones has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. He earned respect from a MetLife Stadium crowd that was chanting his name Sunday afternoon. No matter where you have stood on Jones in the past, or where you stand on what his future should be, I would hope he has at least earned your respect for what he has done for this year’s Giants.

Richie James — Another big game for James with seven receptions on seven targets fort 76 yards and a touchdown. James is somewhat symbolic of this Giants team. No one expected much from him, but he was really good early in the season, hit a rough patch in the middle, and has rebounded with fury in recent weeks.

James is now tied with Saquon Barkley for the team lead in receptions with 57, and has a career-high 569 receiving yards. He also has four receiving touchdowns, tied with Isaiah Hodgins for the team lead.

He also showed nice backflip form:

Landon Collins — The only player on the roster who was with the Giants when they last made the playoffs in 2016, Collins’ 52-yard pick six was the play that pretty much sealed the deal Sunday, making it 21-3 in the second quarter.

Collins is one of many redemption stories on the 2022-23 Giants. He didn’t have a job earlier this year, landed on the Giants’ practice squad and languished there while learning a new position, and has now emerged as a contributing player.

Kayvon Thibodeaux — Thibodeaux set the defensive tone on the Colts’ first play, nailing running back Zack Moss for a 3-yard loss. He finished the day with a sack, a pass defensed, a quarterback hit and five tackles, two for loss.

Thibodeaux caused a stir by doing a snow angel next to a fallen Nick Foles after the second-quarter sack that drove the veteran quarterback from the game. I’m not going to kill Thibodeaux for that — watching the replay it is apparent to me that Thibodeaux was not aware that Foles was hurt.

Isaiah Hodgins — Four receptions, including a touchdown, for Hodgins. Hodgins has been a revelation since the Giants claimed him on waivers.

Saquon Barkley — This was not a huge game for Barkley (12 carries for 58 yards; two receptions for -5 yards). Still, he had a couple of big runs while the game was still in doubt and ended the game with 1,312 rushing yards for the year, his single-season career best.

Dexter Lawrence — I wonder if anyone has ever done this to three-time All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson before:

Lawrence was his usual, game-wrecking self. He finished with a sack, three quarterback hits and five tackles (two for loss).

Giants pass protection — The Giants caught a break when the Colts placed defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (9.5 sacks) on IR, but Sunday was some of the best pass protection Daniel Jones has been afforded. He was never sacked and was hit just twice

Brian Daboll — The first-year head coach is the single biggest reason the Giants, a team very few thought had a chance to be good this season, are in the playoffs. This is really a ‘Kudos’ for Daboll’s work all season. He might not win Coach of the Year, but he certainly should get some votes.

The MetLife Stadium crowd — Giants fans in attendance brought the energy right from the start. Offensive lineman Nick Gates said the stadium was “jumping for all four quarters.” Giants fans waited a long time for Sunday, and they certainly let loose.

Wet Willies to ...

Giants’ kickoff coverage — The Giants continued to struggle in this area. They gave up three returns for 100 yards (33.3 yards per return) to Dallas Flowers, and veteran placekicker Graham Gano was forced to make a tackle on one of them.

Darius Slayton — After catching a Jones pass on the first play of the second half, Slayton fumbled. With the Giants leading 24-3 and fans at MetLife ready to party, Slayton’s gaffe temporarily halted the festivities. A better team than Indianapolis might have used that as a springboard for a second-half comeback. Of course, the abysmal Colts could not score and the Giants resumed their onslaught after that.