The Vikings’ defense has been the team’s Achilles’ heel all season. Minnesota finished the season ranked 31st in overall defense and 28th in defensive scoring.
But for most of the season, the Vikings managed to overcome any shortcomings and find a way to win. They were 11-0 in one-scoring games in the regular season, including a 27-24 victory over the Giants on Christmas Eve.
This time, however, there was no comeback in the fourth quarter, no field goal in the last match, no win by one goal. Instead, the Vikings’ season ended with a 31–24 loss to the Giants.
New York, having won only the third time in nine games, advance to the divisional round next weekend. The Giants will play division rival Philadelphia for the third time this season.
Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and touched down twice on Sunday, completing 24 of 35 passes. He also ran for 78 yards on 17 carries.
Saquon Barkley had touchdowns for 28 and 2 yards, finishing 53 yards on nine carries. He also caught five passes for 56 yards. Isaiah Hodgins had eight receptions for 105 yards, and Darius Slay added four receptions for 88 yards.
The Giants went for it, finishing fourth and first at 45 with 3:28 left, and quarterback Jones pulled it off easily. The Giants finished 2-for-2 on the fourth Sunday. But three plays later, wide-open Slayton folded on the third and 15th, and the Vikings came out of the timeout with 3:03 left.
The Giants only had to punt for the second time that day.
It got a little interesting when Dexter Lawrence was awarded for a dubious rough passer’s penalty on Kirk Cousins on second and fourth from Minnesota 18. Instead of third and fourth, the Vikings got a new set of downs at 18. But Viking hopes died at 48 when T. J. Hockenson was stopped Xavier McKinney 3 yards on fourth and eighth.
The Giants gained 431 yards to 332 for the Vikings.
Cousins was 31 of 39 for 273 yards and two touchdowns but fell to 1-3 in postseason starts.
Justin Jefferson scored just 47 yards on seven catches, while Hockenson caught 10 for 129 yards.