Chants for Daniel Jones echoed MetLife Stadium during the New York Giants' 38-10 playoff-clinching victory over the hapless Indianapolis Colts. The contract-year quarterback was highly efficient operating Mike Kafka’s quick passing attack; the Giants only saw seven third-down opportunities, and they converted three of them.
For the first time since 2019, the Giants' offense went north of thirty points in a win. The last time the Giants scored 30 points was against Dallas in a Week 5 2020 34-37 loss. The Giants won a 2019 Week 16 game over Washington, 41-35; that was the last time the Giants scored 30+ points.
Jones finished 19 of 24 for 177 yards with two touchdowns, and he wasn’t sacked. He added eleven carries for 91 yards and another two touchdowns. The offense was clicking on all cylinders. The Colts' defense struggled to find any answers for Jones, Richie James, and Isaiah Hodgins.
Rookie edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux knocked Nick Foles out of the game with a sack; the top-5 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft made several plays throughout the game for the Giants defense, who had their second defensive touchdown of the season with Landon Collins’ pick-six.
The Giants controlled every aspect of this football game. The game was quickly out of hand, despite the Colts scoring the first points with a field goal. The Giants scored 31 unanswered points, with 24 of them in the second quarter. It’s good to be hot at the end of the season, and the Giants played a team that allowed them to cook.
Good football teams are supposed to take care of business in must-win situations. Brian Daboll’s team accomplished their weekly goal with the win, and they secured their rightful place in the NFC Playoff picture for the first time since 2016. Here are the five plays, or sequences of plays, that led to the win.
Play(s) 1: Daniel Jones’ arm
Richie James TD celebration is crazy pic.twitter.com/zhgEBpQUKx— Applesauce Enthusiast (@ClevelandGod) January 1, 2023
The Giants' first points came on a third-and-goal, with Jones extending the play to find Richie James Jr. (80) for a touchdown. Over the last few weeks, Jones has used his mobility to get on the edge and force underneath defenders toward him to open up receivers in the end zone. Defenses must account for Jones’ ability to run and score with his legs - as the Colts know full well. James caught all seven of his targets for 76 yards with this score.
Isaiah Hodgins >>> Jerry Rice pic.twitter.com/welhDGxXDv— Conor Maguire (@cmaguire2008) January 1, 2023
Isaiah Hodgins (18) and Jones did an excellent job reading zone coverage from an EMPTY formation on second-and-goal. The outward release of the No. 2 receiver expanded Bobby Okereke (58) away from Hodgins, and the young receiver understood the leverage and gave Jones an easy target for six.
Play(s) 2: Daniel Jones’ legs
It was two-for-two for Jones; two through the air and two on the ground.
The first Jones’ rushing touchdown came on this second-and-five BASH QB power with the play side OT pulling around the crack-block of Hodgins. Jones followed the blocks for a touchdown, with a great effort from Mark Glowinski (64) from the backside.
The second Jones rushing touchdown came off the play action fake. The Giants had a lot of success with this play design throughout the season; Jones does an excellent job faking the handoff before rolling around the edge undetected for a touchdown. One of Jones’ best traits is his ability to beat defenses with his legs. This was his fifth game of the year with more than 50 yards rushing.
Play 3: Landon Collins!
LANDON COLLINS WITH THE PICK 6!!!!!!!— New York Giants (@Giants) January 1, 2023
: CBS pic.twitter.com/kgnRqFNzc4
In typically Hollywood fashion, on his second stint with the New York Giants, former All-Pro safety Landon Collins intercepted Nick Foles and took it for six points to give the Giants a 21-3 lead in a playoff-clinching victory. Collins’ role has increased since the Giants released linebacker Tae Crowder. The 28-year-old read the BUNCH release and jumped the flat route to secure the pick six.
Play(s) 4: Kayvon Thibodeaux continues to shine
Thibodeaux set an early tone on the Colts’ first offensive play of the game.
The rookie read the zone blocking scheme and attacked the tight end Mo Ali Cox’s (81) outside shoulder. Thibodeaux penetrated the D-Gap and tackled Zach Moss for a loss of three to start the game.
Kayvon Thibodeaux with a VICIOUS sack pic.twitter.com/Qq1jznrJOQ— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) January 1, 2023
Thibodeaux sacked Foles on a third-and-4, which gave the football back to the Giants, who scored as time expired in the first half. Martindale is a master at scheming unblocked rushers, and Thibodeaux ended up knocking Nick Foles out of the game.
As Foles was writhing in pain, Thibodeaux celebrated by making snow angels; after the game, Thibodeaux stated that he was unaware of Foles’ injury until he got up from his celebration.
Later in the game, Thibodeaux read the eyes of quarterback Sam Ehlinger (4) on the screen to Parris Campbell. As Ehlinger adjusted, Thibodeaux positioned himself in the throwing lane. The rookie almost came away with what would have been a pick-six, the second of the game and the second touchdown of Thibodeaux’s young career.
Play(s) 5: TE leak
This particular play wasn’t a huge difference-making play, but I appreciate its utilization in Kafka’s offense.
Last week, the Giants had this same off-set I-Formation look, and Jones found Bellinger - the player aligned at FB - on a deep over. Unfortunately, Bellinger fumbled the football, but the play call was excellent.
Instead of the deep over, Kafka dialed up a TE Leak type of play with Bellinger aligned at FB off play action. The play fake held the linebackers in place, and Bellinger, from the boundary side, expanded into the vacated spot cleared out by the outside receiver. Utilizing Bellinger’s diverse skillset out of the backfield does well to disguise the intentions of the Giants. We saw this utilization last week against Minnesota, and I hope to see it moving forward into the playoffs.