Brian Daboll and the Giants aren’t just happy with making the playoffs. They want what’s waiting for one team at the end.
“Our goal will never be to just make the playoffs,” Daboll said after clinching a berth with Sunday’s 38-10 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts. “That’ll never be just our goal.”
Saquon Barkley added: “When you’re making the playoffs, it’s not like you’ve won the Super Bowl. You give yourself a chance to compete for a Super Bowl. So it’s just another step ahead. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Daboll wasn’t taking his team’s eyes off the task immediately in front of them.
He reminded them they still had a regular season game to play in Philadelphia next weekend, and his postgame message mostly was to celebrate responsibly.
“I said, ‘Congrats, let’s be a pro, let’s be smart tonight,” Daboll said. “Let’s not ruin anything we’ve been building towards. This is the most important time of year in January. You did the right thing on the field. Let’s do the right thing off the field.”
But it’s important to understand: the Giants aren’t just happy to be here as the NFC’s 6-seed. They’re not satisfied. They’re not done.
They aren’t playing the underdog anymore. They want to win the whole thing.
And they’re turning their focus on that goal “instantly,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said.
“For me? Instantly,” he said. “I’m gonna enjoy this for a little bit. But making it? That’s just making it. Once you’re in, you’re in the tournament. There’s only one thing at the end of the tournament that one team can win. So that’s gonna be the ultimate goal. I think it’s gonna be a good challenge for us, and I think we’re gonna come ready.”
Free safety Xavier McKinney, who started Sunday after missing seven games with a broken left hand, said the Giants ‘ expectations always have been higher than those on the outside. And they will continue to be.
“We knew we’d be able to do this,” McKinney said. “The season’s not over yet. We still got another game to play [against the Eagles] and we’re gonna work to get the next one, too. But it doesn’t stop just at the playoffs.
“We’ve got one ultimate goal, and everybody knows what that is, and we’re trying to reach that,” the safety added. “Anything can happen when you get in the playoffs, and we’re in it now. So it’ll be fun.”
Left tackle Andrew Thomas also was confident the Giants can make noise now that they’re in. Signs are pointing to a rematch with the Minnesota Vikings team that they nearly beat on Christmas Eve.
“Once you get to the playoffs, it’s anybody’s game,” Thomas said. “Your record doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just who wins that day. Win and go home.”
The Giants (9-6-1) haven’t exactly been red-hot down the stretch. They are 0-5 this season against the current NFC playoff field, too. However, if Daniel Jones is going to play like he did on Sunday, they’ll have a chance against anybody.
“He’s a heck of a player, heck of a quarterback,” Barkley said of Jones. “Everyone wanted to be a big critic of him and say this and say that, but he gave us the opportunity to play playoff football and he locked it in today. When we needed him most he came up and made big plays.”
This team is young. This will be an invaluable experience for the building blocks in GM Joe Schoen’s locker room.
But they’re not content. They say this is just the beginning.
“We made the playoffs,” Daboll said. “Hopefully there’s a long way to go here.”
No one gave them a chance to get this far. So no one could tell the Giants on Sunday that they can’t prove everyone wrong one more time in January.