The New York Giants are a good deal closer to the playoffs with their 20:12 away win in Washington. One rookie is particularly convincing. Meanwhile, a division rival can also cheer.
Commanders vs. Giants: At a Glance
Rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was the outstanding man in the Giants’ away win in DC. He scored the G-Men’s first touchdown and also prevented a possible equalizer late on.
The Commanders didn’t find an answer to the Giants’ defense for a long time. And even after they woke up, they made too many mistakes in the form of turnovers.
The result between the Giants and Commanders allowed a rival from the NFC East to celebrate early.
Commanders vs. Giants: Die Analyse
Before their last drive in the first half, the Giants didn’t do much offensively before the break. But that wasn’t necessary either, because the defense made itself felt positively early on.
After the Giants defense held off the Commanders on a field goal in the first quarter, rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux came on the scene and nailed the hat trick: he sacked and fumbled Taylor Heinicke in front of the opposition’s end zone and then won the ball for a touchdown.
A little later, the G-Men then put down an almost nine-minute drive over 18 plays, at the end of which there was a touchdown – running back Saquon Barkley got the direct snap from the wildcat formation and ran to a 3-yard score. Half-time score: 14:3.
After the break, the Commanders reported back. Heinicke now acted more courageously and was primarily looking for top receiver Terry McLaurin. In the end there was a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson. Then a 2-point-play was canceled due to an offensive pass interference – a pick-play – and to make matters worse, Joey Slave awarded the extra point, so that it remained at 14:9 for New York.
Commanders vs. Giants: Commanders awaken after the break
After field goals on both sides, this gap lasted until the start of the fourth quarter. Fueled by a 61-yard pass from Heinicke to Dotson, Washington then marched into the red zone. But on the 3rd down this time, Dexter Lawrence pulled out a strip sack and prevented the home side from scoring any more.
That finally pulled the tooth out of the commanders, because then the spell on the guests’ run game seemed to be broken. What previously looked extremely ineffective was once again becoming the team’s strength. Barkley and Daniel Jones kept finding gaps for chunk plays, which they used to advance and play down the clock. They held the ball until the 2-minute warning and kicker Graham Gano increased the lead to 20:12 with a 50-yard field goal.
Heinicke led his team into the red zone again, but Thibodeaux stopped the QB after a scramble at the 1. Brian Robinson then ran into the end zone again, but an illegal formation penalty against McLaurin negated the all-important score. The Giants then managed a stop to victory.
The Giants were also lucky that the refs missed an apparent pass interference from Darnay Holmes in the home team’s last play.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys can celebrate with this result, because they have reached the playoffs.
Washington Commanders (7-6-1) vs. New York Giants (8-5-1)
Result: 12:20 (3:0, 0:14, 6:3, 3:3) BOXSCORE
Commanders vs. Giants – the most important statistics
- Thibodeaux got off to a spectacular start and collected 3 run stuffs in the first quarter. That, along with a few others, was the most in a quarterback since the beginning of the Next-Gen-Stats-Era (2016). These were also his first run stuffs ever in the NFL.
- Thibodeaux is the first Giants rookie with a fumble return touchdown and at least one sack in a game since sacks became an official statistic (1982). However, the last rookie to do so in the NFL was Chase Young for Washington in Week 14 of 2020.
The Star of the Game: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge Rusher, Giants)
The rookie is improving week by week and had arguably his best game to date that night in Maryland. He was an early factor against the run, putting in 2 pressures, a strip sack and a touchdown that clearly impacted the game. And he stopped Heinicke in the final minutes before the end zone. The Giants had to find an answer against him, which ultimately came too late.
The Flop of the Game: Offensive Line (Commanders)
The run blocking seemed to work, but the Commanders had big problems when it came to pass protection. Heinicke was constantly under pressure, although Giants defensive coordinator Don Martindale didn’t send blitzers as often as usual. You can’t absolve the QB entirely of guilt either, but those in front weren’t good enough.
Analysis: Commanders vs. Giants – the Tactics Table
The Commanders started the game aggressively and blitzed frequently against Jones, but after Jones showed his willingness and ability to counter the rush via quick passing game, the hosts slowed down and blitzed less.
The Commanders made life difficult for themselves in the passing game with a fairly static game without excessive pre-snap motion and, above all, hardly any play action. This was noticeably opposed to the opposing front. In addition, they made little effort before the break to counter Edge Rusher Thibodeaux with a double team. That only changed after the break.
Play-calling also got better with the Commanders after the break. They then started with more passes in early downs, sprinkled in end arounds and presented more pre-snap motion.