The only thing that really mattered for the New York Giants on Sunday was that they came out of their 22-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles almost completely unscathed, with backup safety Jason Pinnock (shoulder/unknown severity) the only injury we know of.
There was nothing of substance to gain from risking players like Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence and others against the Eagles.
When the Eagles, playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, jumped to an early 10-0 lead it looked like we might be headed toward having to stomach another beating like the 48-22 thrashing the Eagles handed the Giants in Week 14.
Darned if this didn’t turn out to be kinda fun, though.
It was rewarding to see Davis Webb, a career practice squad player, get his first NFL start and first real action of his career, and actually deliver a solid performance.
It was certainly fun to watch Webb do this:
Webb even managed to get Kenny Golladay to make a play — something Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Jake Fromm and Tyrod Taylor have not been able to do in two years.
It was fun to watch Lawrence Cager have the best game of his NFL career — eight catches were one more than he had in nine career games before Sunday.
It was certainly fun to watch the Giants’ defensive backups — led by guys like Rodarius Williams, Jarrad Davis, Nick McCloud, Micah McFadden, Cor’Dale Flott and Tomon Fox — hold the Eagles to one of five in the red zone and frustrate Eagles coach Nick Sirianni enough that Jalen Hurts and his less than 100 percent right shoulder and other Philadelphia starters had to play the entire game.
Sunday really could not have worked out better for the Giants. They played a competitive game against the Eagles while resting their key guys. The Vikings and San Francisco 49ers both won, meaning the Giants will get a rematch with a Minnesota team it certainly feels like they are competitive with.
Just to add to the fun, the Washington Commanders pounded the Dallas Cowboys, 26-6, while Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a miserable 14 of 37 day.
Still, Sunday’s game against the Eagles was really a sideshow. It was something to be gotten through, something to cross off the calendar before we get to the real fun.
The Giants’ first playoff appearance since 2016. And maybe, just maybe, their first playoff victory since the 2011 season — the last time they won the Super Bowl.
‘We’ll see you guys again’
Per Jordan Ranaan of ESPN, that is what Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley said he told some Vikings players after Minnesota’s 27-24 last-second victory over the Giants in Week 16.
The Vikings are 13-4. They will be at home. You can’t look back at that Week 16 game, which required a 61-yard game-winning field goal on the final play for Minnesota to win, and not realize that the Giants will go to Minnesota next weekend thinking they can win.
“They’re a good team, a playoff team. We gotta go and score points and not hurt ourselves and shoot ourselves in the foot,” Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates said on Sunday evening. “This team’s a good team when we don’t do that. When we play consistent, no penalties and things like that, we’re a hard team to beat.”
The Vikings, despite a fancy 13-4 record, have a -3 point differential. They have given up three more points than they have scored. The Giants’ point differential is -6. Maybe the Giants will beat the Vikings. Maybe they won’t. There is no doubt, though, that this matchup gives the Giants a legitimate chance to win a playoff game for the first time in more than a decade.
We all know the Giants have a history of unexpected playoff runs. No one should count on that.
Enjoy the week, though. And enjoy the ride no matter what happens. After all, it sure beats talking about coach/GM firings and draft order, which is how we have spent this time of year for most of the past decade.