(MINNEAPOLIS) — In his first career playoff game for the New York Giants, a 31-24 victory over Minnesota in the wild-card round, Daniel Jones passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards, handing the Vikings their first defeat in 12 one-score games this season.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Saquon Barkley scored twice on the ground, including the decisive score.
The defense closed off the Vikings' first playoff win since the Super Bowl 11 years ago by swarming tight end T.J. Hockenson after a 3-yard reception on a Kirk Cousins pass at midfield on fourth-and-8 to force a fumble on downs with 1:44 left and no timeouts left.
Jones became the first quarterback in NFL history to have 300-plus passing yards, two-plus passing touchdowns, and 70-plus rushing yards in a postseason game.
"I'm blown away. I'm not surprised because he's been doing it for the past year. "He's been really balling," added Barkley, who had 109 yards on 14 touches. "He's a unique player. "This is where you can make your mark in the playoffs, and what a way to begin."
Brian Daboll's club advanced to the divisional round, where they will face No. 1 seed and NFC East opponent Philadelphia next weekend.
"I believe we've had some of our better games recently and found some stuff that works for us," said Jones, who connected with Isaiah Hodgins and Daniel Bellinger for touchdowns. "As a result, we'll keep doing it". "I believed the coaching team did an excellent job of preparing us."
To end the opening series of the game, Cousins completed 31 of 39 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown; the only mistake that stood out was the too-short pass to Hockenson.
After halftime, the NFL's leading receiver, Justin Jefferson, had only one catch for 47 yards.
"This is perhaps the most difficult loss of my career," said Cousins, who had by far the greatest record in his 11-year tenure.
The Vikings held true to form, trailing by 10 points late in the second quarter and again early in the third quarter.
Cousins, who was dragged to the ground by the blitz-fueled Giants defense, hit Irv Smith Jr. for a short touchdown pass that pulled the Vikings within three points, 24-21.
Then something strange happened: the defense got a stop.
Danielle Hunter's sack prompted the first Giants punt, and the Vikings converted the game-tying field goal the other way.
They did, however, lose some crucial points when the Cousins converted a fourth-and-1 at the 15 after a false start by left tackle Christian Darrisaw.
On the Giants' next drive, Jones converted a penalty-free fourth-and-1 sneak. With 7:47 remaining, Barkley chugged into the end zone to take the lead.
The Giants and Vikings were two of seven teams that did not make the playoffs last season, ending a six-year drought for the Giants with a 9-7-1 record under Daboll that earned them a wild-card place.
Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell was also a first-year coach, leading a 13-4 division champion team that set an all-time record by going 11-0 in one-score games in an NFL season with a record number of close margins and comeback wins.
Five years and one day after Case Keenum's 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings a 29-24 divisional round victory over New Orleans, Cousins eventually earned a postseason game in Minnesota during his fifth season.
Brian O'Neill, his injured right tackle, joined the fans in the pregame "Skol" chant, amplifying the volume. When franchise leading rusher Adrian Peterson was shown on the videoboard for an interview in the first quarter, the fans went crazy.
The Giants, who had only played here three weeks before, were clearly unfazed by the noise. They rolled for 166 yards and two touchdowns on their first two drives, then gained 90 yards in a ridiculous 20 plays for a field goal and a 17-7 lead.
The Giants' Adoree' Jackson returned from a seven-game absence due to a knee injury and was instrumental in keeping Jefferson quiet after he had 133 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches against the Giants last month.
"There were a lot of tears in there," O'Connell admitted outside the locker room. "There are some guys who expected to win a world championship. " You have to give credit to the Giants."
Azeez Ojulari (Giants) suffered a quadriceps injury in the second quarter and was ruled out by halftime. … FS backup After covering a kickoff in the fourth quarter, Jason Pinnock (abdomen) left on a cart and was taken to the hospital for assessment.
Brian Asamoah II (concussion) of the Vikings was injured late in the second quarter while covering a kickoff. … Cameron Dantzler Sr., the backup cornerback, was inactive due to a personal matter.