The Gatorade bath for the head coach has been reinstated. The final seconds were counted down by fans, and there were fireworks above MetLife Stadium. In the locker room, tears were shed.
Yes, the New York Giants have returned to the playoffs.
Daniel Jones threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more as the New York Giants defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-10 on Sunday to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“I’ll be honest, it’s a beautiful thing,” said running back Saquon Barkley, who led the team to a 6-2 start. “No one gave us a chance outside of the men and women in that facility.”
The Giants were one of the least likely teams to make the playoffs heading into the season.
They lost five straight seasons, including a four-win season in 2021 that resulted in the dismissal of coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman.
As general manager, Buffalo assistant Joe Schoen was hired, and he hired Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as coach, his first head coaching job.
Daboll took a young team and taught them to focus on one week at a time and to believe in themselves. It paid off as the Giants (9-6) overcame injuries and a 2-4-1 slump in November and early December to become the third NFC East team to make the playoffs, joining Philadelphia and Dallas.
After the game, Daboll was doused in Gatorade, a Giants tradition started by Bill Parcells in the 1980s.
“It was sticky,” the low-key Daboll said, noting that Jones gave the team the next two days off when he broke things down after the game.
The locker room was said to be ecstatic by the players.
“Loud, dancing, laughing, so many emotions,” Dexter Lawrence, a defensive tackle, said. “There are all of the signs of excitement. We worked hard with these guys and the new coaching staff since the spring, and it’s all paying off.”
Landon Collins, one of two players from the 2016 team, broke the game open late in the second quarter with a 52-yard pick-6, capping off a surprising playoff run for the Giants (9-6-1).
The Colts (4-11-1) have now lost six straight games and nine in a row.
“We still have one week. “I’ve got to keep these guys playing good football for the next week, try to get a win, and finish this season off right,” Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday said.
The Giants resembled the high-powered Bills where Schoen and Daboll had previously played.
Their point total was a season high, and it was the first time the team scored at least 30 points since Oct. 11, 2020, when they scored 34 in a 37-34 loss to Dallas.
Jones, who was the No. 6 overall pick in 2019 and saw the team decline his fifth-year option, played like Bills star Josh Allen.
In the first half, he threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins and scored on runs of 18 and 10 yards in the second half. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 177 yards and ran 11 times for 91 yards.
With about 7:30 left in the game, Jones exited the field to a standing ovation from the crowd.
“I mean, it’s just thrilling. “I think, as I said, we’ve been through some difficult times, and being on the other side is a lot of fun,” Jones said.
The only negative for the Giants was rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux making snow angels after sacking and injuring Colts quarterback Nick Foles late in the second quarter. According to Saturday, Foles walked off the field but was escorted to the locker room on a cart. He never returned.
Thibodeaux stated that he was celebrating and was unaware that Foles was injured, adding that he hopes he recovers quickly.
Sam Ehlinger entered the game in the second half and threw his first NFL touchdown pass, a 6-yarder to Michael Pittman.
NOTES: The Colts were 3 of 12 on third down. The Colts finished with 252 yards and seven 60-yard penalties. Bobby Okereke of the Indianapolis Colts had a season-high 17 tackles. Barkley finished with 58 yards rushing and now has 1,312 yards on the season, breaking his previous career high of 1,307 yards set in 2018…. Jones now has 708 yards rushing, breaking the team record for a quarterback. Collins’ pick-6 was his career’s second. He had one against the Rams in London in 2016.
Along with Foles, Colts cornerback Brandon Facyson left the game with a concussion.
DL, Giants Leonard Williams left the game with a stringer in the second half.
WHAT COMES NEXT
Colts: Host Houston in the regular-season finale on Sunday.
Giants: Travel down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia to face the Eagles.