A New York Giants team that entered the season with a new head coach, an unproven quarterback, a yet-to-return-to-form running back and rather low expectations are now moving on to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
It was first-year coach Brian Daboll, who made some gutsy fourth-down calls, Daniel Jones, who beat the Vikings through the air and on the ground, and Saquon Barkley, who scored the Giants' first and last touchdowns of the game, that helped get them there.
The sixth-seeded Giants defeated the No. 3 Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in the NFC wild card game on Sunday, giving New York its first postseason victory since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
They advance to play the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round next weekend.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
Barkley, who like Jones was making his playoff debut, put the Giants on the board in the first quarter after he took a pitch left, found a hole and ran into the end zone untouched to even the score at 7-7. Jones later found Isaiah Hodgins for a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 14-7 lead.
After a 35-yard field goal by the Giants' Graham Gano, Kirk Cousins connected with T.J. Hockenson for two big gains to set up a nine-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds left in the half to pull the Vikings within 17-14.
The Giants added to their lead on the opening drive of the second half when Jones found Daniel Bellinger for a nine-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-14 with 11:37 left in the third.
Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and more
The Vikings made it a one-possession game when Irv Smith Jr. caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to pull within 24-21 with 7:46 left in the third.
Facing fourth-and-2 from the Giants 43-yard line, Cousins found a wide-open Hockenson (10 catches, 129 yards) down the sideline for an 18-yard gain to close the third quarter. That helped set up a 38-yard field goal by Greg Joseph to tie the score at 24-24 with 12:34 remaining.
Hodgins helped extend the Giants' ensuing drive by making a leaping catch along the sideline and kept both feet inbounds for a 19-yard gain. Jones later converted a two-yard rush up the middle on fourth-and-1 from the Vikings' seven-yard line to set up Barkley's go-ahead two-yard touchdown run that gave the Giants a 31-24 lead with 7:47 to go.
Jones converted a fourth-and-1 with a two-yard rush at the Giants' 45-yard line, but the drive stalled when Darius Slayton dropped a wide-open pass on 3rd-and-15.
The Vikings got the ball back at their own 18-yard line with just under three minutes remaining and no timeouts remaining. A questionable roughing the passer call on second-and-4 on Dexter Lawrence advanced the ball to the 33-yard line.
Facing fourth-and-8 from their own 48-yard line, Cousins completed a pass to Hockenson, who was stopped well short of the first down.
Jones completed 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 17 rushes for 78 yards. The fourth-year quarterback became the first player in NFL postseason history with 300-plus passing yards, two passing touchdowns and 70 rushing yards in a single game.
Barkley ran for 53 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and added five catches for 56 yards. Hodgins finished with 105 yards and a touchdown on eight catches and Slayton added 88 yards on four catches.
The Giants defense limited Justin Jefferson to one second-half catch for four yards as the star receiver finished with seven receptions and 47 yards.