MINNEAPOLIS — Bring on the Eagles.
Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a franchise-record 80. Saquon Barkley scored twice.
And the Giants’ defense got a final possession stop on Kirk Cousins and the NFL’s comeback kids to upset the Minnesota Vikings, 31-24, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Sunday’s victory, the franchise’s first playoff game of any kind since 2016, marked the Giants’ first playoff win since their 2011 Super Bowl season under Tom Coughlin.
Rookie coach Brian Daboll and the 6-seed Giants will visit the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles next weekend in the NFC’s divisional round.
They are 0-2 against their NFC East rival this season, losing 48-22 at home in Week 14 on Dec. 11 and falling 22-16 at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 18 on Jan. 8 with mostly backups playing against Philly’s starters.
On Sunday, rookie safety Dane Belton, rookie corner Cor’Dale Flott and safety Xavier McKinney made the final three stops to turn the Vikings over on downs with 1:44 remaining.
Then three Jones kneel downs made it official.
Minnesota had gotten help from a ridiculous roughing the passer call on Dexter Lawrence to start the potential game-tying drive, but the defense didn’t flinch.
Belton tackled Dalvin Cook. Flott broke up a pass for K.J. Osborn. And McKinney tackled T.J. Hockenson short of the sticks on fourth down.
The Giants had tried to end the game with their offense up seven. A Darius Slayton wide-open drop on 3rd and 16 with 3:03 to play forced them to punt the ball back.
But the defense had held the previous drive, thanks to stops from corner Darnay Holmes and Kayvon Thibodeaux on screen passes. And they did it once more to seal it. Rookie coach Kevin O’Connell’s Vikings were out of timeouts.
It was the Giants’ offense that blew Sunday’s national audience away, though.
With the game tied at 24 apiece, Jones engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by Barkley’s second TD of the game, a hard-nosed run up the gut from 2 yards out. That gave the Giants a 31-24 lead with 7:47 remaining.
The key plays were a 19-yard completion to Isaiah Hodgins and a 10-yard swing pass to Barkley with Kenny Golladay burying Vikings corner Duke Shelley into the turf to free Barkley outside.
Hodgins also drew a defensive holding call on Patrick Peterson to get the Giants within two yards of the goal line. The drive included a 2-yard Jones run on 4th and 1 from the Vikings’ 7.
To open the second half, Jones and the Giants offense mounted a third TD drive in their first five possessions for a 24-14 lead with 11:37 to play in the third quarter.
Jones hit Barkley (24) and Isaiah (32) for huge completions to set up a 9-yard TD pass to tight end Daniel Bellinger.
But Cousins and the Vikings answered immediately with a 75-yard TD drive of their own, capped by a 3-yard Cousins TD pass to tight end Irv Smith.
Julian Love nearly intercepted Cousins on a pass intended for Jefferson broken up by Xaiver McKinney, but replay showed it had hit the ground.
Jamie Gillan’s first punt of the game, with about 4 and a half minutes left in the third quarter, nearly resulted in the game’s first turnover. Giants corner Nick McCloud jarred the ball loose from Vikings return man Jalen Reagor.
But Minnesota’s Kris Boyd recovered. And the Vikes drove for a 38-yard Greg Joseph field goal to tie the game at 24 apiece with 12:34 left in the fourth quarter.
O’Connell’s Vikings had to keep scoring, because the Giants offense was practically unstoppable.
Jones came out on fire and led the Giants to touchdowns on their first two drives, carrying them into halftime with a 17-14 lead.
He completed 12 of 16 passes for 143 yards and a 14-yard TD pass to Isaiah Hodgins. And he carried the ball 10 times for 71 yards, shattering the Giants’ record for QB rushing yards in any entire playoff game.
Saquon Barkley’s 28-yard untouched TD run on the Giants’ first possession tied the game at seven apiece behind excellent blocks from left tackle Andrew Thomas, Hodgins and center Jon Feliciano.
That score provided an important answer to Minnesota’s game-opening TD drive that was capped by a Cousins 1-yard run. And then Hodgins’ TD gave the Giants a 14-7 lead with 1:03 to play in the first quarter.
The Giants’ offensive stats through their first two drives were ridiculous: nine plays, seven first downs, 166 yards (100 passing, 66 rushing), 18.4 yards per play, two TDs, 14 points and one penalty.
With the defense settling down, the Giants then expanded their lead to 17-7 with 3:25 left in the first half on a 25-yard field goal. They did it with a 20-play, 85-yard drive that ate up 10 minutes and 52 seconds of game clock, their longest drive (by time) of the entire season, per FOX.
Daboll was furious, though, that a Daniel Bellinger illegal motion penalty had backed them up in the red zone and possibly cost them four points.
And Cousins tore up the Giants’ defense for a 75-yard drive capped by a 9-yard TD pass to wideout K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds remaining before half.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson was the primary weapon on that important drive for Minnesota to narrow the Giants’ lead to only three at half after Daboll elected to let the clock run out with bad field position and an unsuccessful first two play calls.