Kayvon Thibodeaux’s defensive TD, breakout recreation spark Giants’ win

LANDOVER, Md. — Dexter Lawrence was on the sideline so he did not have a very good view of the play that set the tone for the Giants on Sunday evening. He knew the Commanders had been backed up towards their very own finish zone. He heard the roar, after which he noticed the celebration.

Then he noticed who had scored the landing for the Giants, and all he may do was shake his head.

“When I saw who scored, I was like ‘This is going to be a long train ride home,'” Lawrence stated. “We are not going to hear the end of it.”

He should not fear, although, as a result of it was going to be a cheerful recap after the Giants’ 20-12 win over the Commanders on Sunday evening — a win that every one however assured they are going to be within the playoffs for the primary time since 2016. It was a win powered by a protection that was ignited by rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had 12 tackles, three for losses, and one sack.

On that sack he pressured a fumble by Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, then scooped up the ball on the 1 and scored to offer the Giants a 7-3 lead — and simply the increase they wanted to shake off an unpleasant first quarter. However that wasn’t all. He gave a dominant defensive efficiency, that included operating down Heinicke and hammering him out of bounds simply 1 yard wanting a potential game-tying landing with 1:03 remaining.

Not unhealthy for a man who teased his personal efficiency simply 5 days earlier when he instructed reporters “Prime time likes me.”

“Man, I don’t lie to you all,” Thibodeaux stated after the sport.

No, he doesn’t.

“He exudes confidence and this is going to boost that even more,” stated veteran security Julian Love. “His passion was showing today. And that passion he was showing today was what we needed, to be honest with you. We needed that boost.”

They actually did, as a result of heading into this recreation the Giants (8-5-1) had been sagging, with only one win of their final six video games. They knew they had been barely clinging to a spot within the playoffs, and that with a loss they’d begin to really feel their possibilities slipping away.

Thibodeaux, the primary draft decide of the brand new Giants regime who was chosen fifth total again in April, felt the second and appeared to sense that it could be his second too. Even earlier than the sport, he did one thing rookies not often do — he referred to as his teammates collectively on the sector after warmups and gave them a pep speak.

He could not bear in mind what he stated — “Something just came out of me.” However no matter it was left his teammates impressed.

“Not only did he step up and talk about it,” operating again Saquon Barkley stated. “He let his play do the talking too.”

Nearly each play he made gave the impression to be greater than the subsequent. He was flying everywhere in the subject nearly to the purpose of exhaustion. And that sort out of Heinicke on the Giants’ 1 actually saved the sport.

Nevertheless it was the landing that his teammates could not cease speaking about. That is partially as a result of they recalled an an identical play from two weeks in the past when Thibodeaux sacked Heinicke on the 2-yard line on the finish of extra time. He knew he may’ve gotten the ball out then and given the Giants the win, as a substitute of getting to accept a 20-20 tie.

This time he wasn’t about to let his second within the highlight go to waste.

“I seen him and I was like, ‘S—t, he’s still got the ball,'” Thibodeaux stated. “Then after I hit him, I just kept going.”

Was it only a coincidence that he made the play he could not make two weeks in the past in a much bigger recreation on a much bigger stage?

“Nothing is a coincidence,” he stated. “It’s not a coincidence.”

“He had that look in his eyes like ‘I know who my matchup is, and I’m going to win it,'” Love stated. “He was a great catalyst on our defense today.”

They wanted each little bit of it in a recreation that got here all the way down to the final play. Two performs after Thibodeaux stopped Heinicke on the 1, cornerback Darnay Holmes actually ended the sport by by some means deflecting a fourth-down cross away from Curtis Samuel ultimately zone (and by some means with out drawing a flag).

There was extra to the sport than simply that, in fact. Quarterback Daniel Jones put collectively an excellent, 18-play, 97-yard landing drive late within the first half. Saquon Barkley lastly rediscovered his energy with 52 dashing yards within the fourth quarter, too.

Thibodeaux stood out as a result of it has been years for the reason that Giants have had the type of defensive participant who may disrupt a recreation like he did. They actually have not had one for the reason that days of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. They’ve some good gamers on the defensive position, notably defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams.

However Thibodeaux is totally different. That is the way in which he was billed. That is why the Giants drafted him so excessive. They believed he may very well be an actual difference-maker. They all the time believed his time would come.

Giants coach Brian Daboll stated he had been constructing in direction of this. Thibodeaux referred to as it a “manifestation” after a pre-game speak together with his mom, who instructed him he may do something he believed. No matter it was, this was the second everybody had been ready for, and the truth that it got here in prime time with the Giants needing a push in direction of the playoffs caught no one unexpectedly.

“I think it’s just the start,” Barkley stated. “He showed what he’s capable of doing.”

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Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports activities, protecting the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years protecting the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years protecting the Giants and the NFL for the New York Every day Information. Comply with him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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