EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It’s time to party like it’s 2016 because the Giants are headed to the playoffs.
The Giants punched their ticket to the postseason for the first time in six years with a 38-10 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts in their final home game of the year. It marked another milestone for Big Blue in a season that has been filled with surprises under first-year head coach Brian Daboll and new general manager Joe Schoen.
A win never seemed to be in doubt as the Daniel Jones-led offense recorded at least 30 points for the first time in 44 games in front of a raucous MetLife Stadium crowd, which had anticipated starting off the new year on a positive note. The Giants had entered the day with the sole goal of “win and you’re in” after they missed the chance to do so on Christmas Eve in a heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Now New York will get the chance to take a run at winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 2012.
“I feel like it’s happened for a reason,” Julian Love said. “We had to learn some tough tests earlier in the past couple of years to get us to this spot. And those tests those, signs have shown up in each of our wins this year. Things that we’ve learned. (Thomas McGaughey) talks about two types of knowledge, borrowed and bought. We bought a lot of knowledge. We weren’t able to see other people making mistakes. We were in that in that race and so to be here, it’s especially big.”
After a sluggish-looking opening drive, Jones and the offense settled in as they scored 31 points. Jones had another impressive outing by completing 19 of his 24 pass attempts for 177 yards through the air and two touchdowns.
Jones added another 91 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor replaced Jones with 7:07 left in the game.
Running back Saquon Barkley, who was just as crucial to the Giants’ return to the postseason, had 12 carries for 58 yards on a day when it had been reported that the Giants were planning on offering multi-year deals to both he and Jones. The Giants back also set a new career high in single-season rushing yards when he surpassed 1,308 with a run late in the third quarter.
“It’s real special. It’s a huge accomplishment,” Barkley said about the Giants’ playoff berth. “You gotta give credit to the guys from OTAs coming every single day with the right mindset, with the right work ethic. Credit to the coaches and it’s a beautiful thing. No one, let’s be honest, no one besides the men and women in that facility gave us a chance to accomplish this and we just stuck to the script and kept believing in each other, and gave ourselves an opportunity.
“And we did it, but at the end of the day we still have next week to get ready for. You want to make it to the playoffs, but making it to the playoffs is not like you won the Super Bowl. You gave yourself a chance to compete for the Super Bowl.”
Matt Breida, who saw the lion’s share of carries in the fourth quarter, had nine carries for 59 yards.
Wide receiver Richie James — who was benched mid-season — finished the game with seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Hodgins, brought in from the Buffalo Bills practice squad, had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Colts starting quarterback Nick Foles threw for 81 yards and completed 8-of-13 passes before he exited the game in the second quarter following a hard hit from Kayvon Thibodeaux for a sack. Foles was down on the field in visible pain before eventually walking off under his own power and then being carted to the Colts’ locker room.
An unaware Thibodeaux was doing snow angels nearby, unaware that Foles had been injured. According to the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard, veteran Julian Love was seen talking with the rookie as they walked off the field.
The game’s first score came late in the first quarter when Colts kicker Chase McLaughlin sent a 23-yard field goal through the uprights.
The Giants responded with a 71-yard, 6:48 drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Jones to James to put them ahead 7-3. New York relied heavily on the ground attack during the touchdown drive with Barkley and Breida combining to get the Giants from their own 29 all the way to the Colts’ 21-yard line before Jones attempted his first pass of the sequence.
It finally ended with Jones scrambling to the right to find James in the end zone for the score. It was James’ first touchdown catch since the Giants’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and extended his career high in TDs to four on the season.
The Giants’ defense held the Colts to just five plays on their next drive and quickly put the ball back into Jones and the offense’s hands. New York took nine plays to march down the field from their own 36 on a drive that was highlighted by a 13-yard scramble by Jones and a six-yard TD pass to Isaiah Hodgins with 4:21 left in the second quarter to make it a 14-3 Giants lead.
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The lead grew to 18 after Landon Collins picked off a throw by Foles and took it 52 yards to the end zone for a touchdown in the final two minutes of the second quarter. The Giants added a field goal in the closing seconds of the half to extend their stranglehold of the game to 24-3.
The Colts finally found the end zone for the first time when Sam Ehlinger found Michael Pittman Jr. for a six-yard TD pass with 2:08 left in the third, but the Giants answered right back as Jones rushed for 10 yards to make it a 38-10 game seconds into the fourth quarter.