The New York Giants would not be travelling to Philadelphia for a divisional round matchup next week if quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley – both on expiring contracts – were not on the roster.
On Sunday, both players made their playoff debuts, and they led the Giants to a 31-24 NFC wild-card playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“It’s a big win for us,” Jones said after the game. “It was an important playoff game. We played well in all three phases, and I believe we did enough to win the game. We’ll have fun tonight, but we have a lot of work to do tomorrow.”
Jones had one of his best performances of his career in the biggest game of his football career. Jones threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 78 yards, the most by a Giants quarterback in postseason history. According to NFL Research, Jones’ stat line made him the first quarterback in playoff history to have over 300 passing yards, at least two touchdowns, and 70-plus rushing yards in a playoff game.
Barkley finished the game with 109 yards from scrimmage (53 rushing and 56 receiving) and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win,” Barkley said. “I’ll carry the ball 50 times, block 50 times, and run the ball as many times as I can.”
The Giants offence totaled 431 yards, with all five scoring drives covering at least 75 yards.
The offensive gameplan that we devised served as the gameplan for the game. “We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Giants coach Brian Daboll explained. “There are always adjustments,” said (offensive coordinator) (Mike) Kafka, “but I thought (offensive coordinator) (Mike) Kafka and all the assistant coaches had those guys ready to play.”
However, Sunday’s victory was an endorsement for the Giants’ two most important offensive players, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts.
The Giants declined Jones’ fifth-year option last April, and Barkley’s rookie deal’s fifth-year option is set to expire. Both will be unrestricted free agents after this season. According to overthecap.com, the Giants will have $54 million in cap space this offseason.
Barkley, a two-time Pro Bowler and the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, has been plagued by injuries his entire career. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best running backs in the league. He’s rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three of his first five seasons, including a career-high 1,312 yards this year.
Jones’ time in New York has been up and down, but he is playing better now that he is on a contract year and with a new coaching staff. This year, the fourth-year quarterback set a single-season high with 3,205 passing yards. In 2022, he had a career-high passer rating of 92.5.
“I’m just trying to focus on what I got to do and focus on just executing. That’s all there is to it. “Not thinking bigger than that or stepping outside of that moment,” Jones explained on Sunday. “I’m just trying to stay present and focused on what I have to do.”
Barkley and Jones demonstrated to the Giants organisation that they should strongly consider bringing them both back in 2023, regardless of the outcome in Philadelphia next week. The two played key roles in the Giants’ first playoff victory since their Super Bowl run in 2011.