EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There was plenty of celebrating for the Giants on Sunday after the final whistle blew and their 38-10 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts was official, sending them to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. For a franchise that has experienced an abundance of losses over that period of time just making the playoffs was an accomplishment that nobody had expected this season.
First-year Giants head coach Brian Daboll emphatically pumped his fist as the game came to a close, he was given the Gatorade bath and inside the locker room, there was a different feeling after the game.
But while the celebratory mood was apparent, so was the focus on the bigger picture of what the Giants were chasing this season.
“I said congrats, let’s be a pro let’s be smart tonight. You know it’s okay to be happy you’ve achieved the first goal,” Daboll said about his message to the team afterward. “It’s probably (the goal) of every NFL team is to make the playoffs. you don’t start a season and go ‘Oh boy. I hope we win five games.’ I think we’re all competitors. Doesn’t always go that way. You go through a lot of difficult times during the season. So I said they should enjoy it. But let’s be smart. Let’s be smart outside the building.”
The message seemed to be well received by the players inside the locker room, who were quick to point out that there is still one final game left in the regular season. The Giants have to travel down I-95 to face the Philadelphia Eagles, but the game will have little meaning with New York locking up the sixth seed in the NFC.
That means that they’ll likely face the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs.
“I think you treat it like any other win, like 24 Hour Rule,” Andrew Thomas explained. “We enjoy tonight, but after that, you got to clean it up and get ready for next week. … I mean once you get to the playoffs it’s anybody’s game record doesn’t matter anymore.”
Even as the Giants kept the day in perspective, they didn’t let it slip on just how the atmosphere had been inside MetLife Stadium. Sunday was their final game in front of their home crowd and the building certainly felt like it was giving them a home-field advantage.
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The energy of the crowd was palpable before kickoff and on every big hit or touchdown drive, the building fulfilled defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s wish that the fans would create a playoff-like atmosphere.
“I’ve never felt the stadium like that,” Nick Gates said. “It was jumping from play one to whatever how many plays are in at the end. That’s cool. The fans definitely showed up. We appreciate them, so they did a good job.”