Why Giants offense crushed the Minnesota Vikings and why they stand no chance in doing the same to the Philadelphia Eagles
The New York Giants traveled to the US Bank Stadium to play the Vikings on Wild Card Weekend and came home Sunday with a 31-24 victory.
The Giants winning against the Vikings, who finished the regular season atop the NFC North with a 14-3 record, certainly could be considered an upset, even more so when it was also the first time Minnesota lost a home game all year.
However, the truth lies within the numbers and if anyone had been paying attention, the Vikings losing to the Giants was pretty much set in stone before opening kickoff.
How bad is the Viking’s defense?
Well let’s start with this gem of a quote from Vikings’ defensive coordinator Ed Donatell before the game even started.
“It’s our time to shine as a defense. I think you’ll like the way we play.””
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell before Wild Card matchup against the New York Giants
Well. That certainly did not happen, Mr. Donatell.
Instead, the Vikings defense allowed 400 yards of offense for a franchise-worse fifth straight game. They did that NINE TIMES during the regular season and finished 31st in the league in yards allowed, giving up 388.7 per game to opposing offenses.
Now that you’re aware of how bad the Vikings’ defense is, it should come as no surprise that their season came to an end by allowing 431 yards to the Giants, just THREE WEEKS REMOVED from letting up 445 yards to the exact same offense.
The Vikings let Daniel Jones complete 24-of-35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Outside of two games against Minnesota and a game agains the Detroit Lions, Daniel Jones had a season-high 228 passing yards.
Daniel Jones was held below 200 yards passing 10 TIMES in the regular season.
So again, it should come as no surprise, that Minnesota had the worst pass defense in the entire NFL this season allowing 266.9 yards per game through the air.
Jones was rarely under pressure all game and had all the time in the world to cut up the Vikings defense right down the center of the field. He made the easiest of throws on crossing routes, connecting with Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton for a combined 12 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown.
Watch: Giants QB Daniel Jones No Look Pass
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On the ground, Jones escaped the pocket at-will, gaining 80 yards on 14 carries before sealing the victory with three kneels. Saquon Barkley ran for 53 yards and two scores on nine carries and leaked out of the backfield for another 56 yards on five receptions.
There was zero resistance throughout the game, but again, if you looked at the numbers, it was almost too obvious that was going to happen last weekend. Here’s a blurb summarizing the Giants offense against the Minnesota Vikings’ defense from Sports Illustrated that summed up the entire disaster perfectly.
On several of the Giants’ five scoring drives, things looked remarkably easy for Jones and their offense. They tied the game at seven with a five-play, 75-yard march on their opening possession, capped by a 28-yard Barkley touchdown scamper. When they got it back later in the first quarter, they went went 81 yards on just four plays to take the lead, the big play being a 47-yard Slayton reception after two Vikings defensive backs collided and fell down. They opened the second half with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive — including gains of 24 and 32 yards on consecutive plays — to extend their lead back to ten. None of those three full-field drives took more than 3:23 off the game clock.
At other times, the Vikings simply couldn’t get off the field. In the second quarter, they allowed the Giants to go on a 20-play, 85-yard drive that drained nearly 11 minutes from the clock. It featured four third-down conversions and numerous Jones scrambles that either moved the chains or set up a manageable third down. New York had to settle for a field goal at the end of it, but an 11-minute possession is an 11-minute possession. Then, with the game tied at 24 in the fourth quarter, the Giants ripped off a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Barkley’s second touchdown of the day.
Darius Slayton with literally more room than the oceans that cover the Earth
Mike Kafka’s Game Plan vs. Vikings
I am going to break this down in the most straightforward way possible.
The Minnesota Vikings attempted to run a cover-four shell defense, which is supposed to prevent explosive plays down the field.
That formation can be vulnerable if teams don’t have the personnel to execute that defense, which I think I covered extensively above when telling you that the Vikings defense IS ONE OF THE WORST IN THE LEAGUE.
It’s a recipe for disaster if matched against an offensive coordinator who can exploit the weaknesses. Mike Kafka drew up the correct game plan to beat it. A lot of quick action in the shallow parts of the field and in the zone. That’s why most of Daniel Jones’s passes were to open targets because of how much they exploited Minnesota’s defense.
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How do they bode against the Philadelphia Eagles?
This is going to be a much different challenge for the Giants. A familiar one, but a whole lot more challenging of a task, considering the Philadelphia Eagles had the best pass defense during the regular season. Not only will Daniel Jones be passing against arguably the best secondary in the league, but he will also be tasked with facing the elite pass rush of the Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished with a franchise record of 70 sacks this season and were far and away the best in the NFL. They recorded fifteen more than the next closest team. Oh yeah, and you guessed it, the Viking’s pass rush wasn’t all that great this season, as they recorded 38 sacks, ranking 21st in that department.
The week 14 matchup between the Eagles and Giants gave you an idea of what to expect Saturday night. That, as we all know very well was a game in which Philadelphia was way too much to handle for New York Little-Giants, as they won easily, 48-22.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images