Sports

Vikes Fall Short

New York Giants beat Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in Opening Round of NFL Playoffs

Playoff football returned to Minneapolis for the first time since 2017, a year that featured a Minneapolis Miracle, and Super Bowl played in Minneapolis. The Giants and Daniel Jones came into the game as a trendy favorite among national pundits. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings intended to stop all talk of upset on their home turf.

The Vikings took the opening possession of game down the field, capping the 75 yard drive with one yard Kirk Cousins quarterback sneak. It wasn’t without drama, however, as Justin Jefferson appeared to have scored on first and goal only to have the play reviewed and overturn the ruling. Cousins’ touchdown came on the ensuing play. The Giants responded with a 75 yard touchdown drive over their own, capped by a 28 yard Saquon Barkley touchdown run. Barkley took the toss sweep after a fake jet sweep and picked his way through traffic on his way to the end zone. The Vikings appeared to have a second drive started, only to twart themselves by calling a quarterback throwback on third down and one. The play was blown up for a two yard loss and forced a Viking’s punt.  New York wasted no time taking the ball down the field in four plays and scoring on a Daniel Jones to Isaiah Hodgins 14 yard pass to make the score 14-7 with a minute to go in the opening quarter.

The Minnesota defense struggled through the first half, unable to get off the field on third down and giving up chunk plays early and often. Quarterback Daniel Jones rushed for 72 yards in the first half would have had a touchdown on top of it save for an illegal shift that wiped away the score. Instead, the Giants settled for a 25 yard Graham Gano field goal to make the score 17-7 with 3:25 left in the first half. Drive lasted 20 plays and covered 85 yards in a little over ten minutes. The Vikings responded quickly, scoring in two minutes and forty seconds through two big gainers by former Iowa Hawkeye T.J. Hockenson. K.J. Osborn finally took the ball into the endzone on a nine yard catch from Kirk Cousins. The score brought the Vikings within three even after being out gained by nearly 100 yards in the first half.

The Giants came out with their guns blazing on the first possession of the second half, as they drove 75 yards on six plays and capped it with a Daniel Bellinger nine yard touchdown reception. The Vikings’ offense responded with a scoring strike of their own as they drove 75 yards on eight plays. They nearly had turned the ball over on an interception by Julian Love. However, after further discussion, and likely a replay assist, it was determined that the interception was not caught and it reverted back to an incomplete pass. Minnesota capitalized on the overturn and punched the ball into the endzone on three yard Cousins to Irv Smith Jr. pass to make the score 24-21.

As the third quarter became the fourth, the Vikings offense was able to convert a 4th and 2 to keep their drive alive, and nearly converted a second fourth down play, but were tagged with a false start that backed them up and forced them to kick a Greg Joseph field goal to knot the score at 24-24. The Giants were able to settle on the ensuing possession and drive the ball 75 yards on 12 plays to score. They had to convert a fourth and one of their own to get there, but Saquon Barkley dove two yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game. The New York defense stiffened up as Minnesota came out to answer. The Giants for a three and out to get the ball back and a chance to run the final six and a half minutes off of the clock. After picking up a first down to open the drive, the Giants were faced with a fourth and inches at at their own 42 yards line. After taking a timeout they sneaked the ball with Daniel Jones for a first down, forcing Minnesota to start using their three timeouts. Minnesota was able to force a punt and got the ball back with just under three minutes remaining. They were able to drive to midfield before stalling on fourth down and turning it back over to the Giants for the final time.

The Vikings finish the season with a 13-4 regular season record. The Giants will live to play another round, heading to Philadelphia to play the top seeded Eagles.

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