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Commanders vs. Giants score takeaway: Saquon Barkley helps New York edge closer to playoffs with road win

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The Giants are about to clinch their ticket to the playoffs. New York moved to 8-5-1 this season after beating the Washington Commanders 20-12 on the road in a prime-time NFC East showdown.

Washington came first to the board in this NFC East head-to-head, but a strip sack from rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux that he recovered for a touchdown gave New York the lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter and they held the rest of the way.

Trailing 17-12 midway through the fourth quarter, Washington looked poised to try to hold on to the lead, especially after Taylor Heinicke connected with Jahan Dotson for a 61-yard catch that propelled them deep into the territory of New York. However, Heinicke fumbled a few plays later and the ball was won by New York. Saquon Barkley then pushed the attack downfield and chewed over four minutes down to finally kick in a field goal to move up eight.

That turnover not only eliminated a golden goal opportunity for Washington, but gave the Giants the chance to extend their lead to a touchdown plus an extra point, which came into play in the final minute then which Washington threatened to score again as they got the ball. the Giants 1-yard line before ultimately failing.

Daniel Jones finished with 160 yards through the air on 21 of 32 passes. Meanwhile, Barkley rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Heinicke passed 17 of 29 for 249 yards and a touchdown. He also ran three times for 33 yards.

While no club steps out of the current NFC playoff picture, the win propels New York to the No. 1. 6 seed in the conference as the Commanders drop to No. 1. 7 seed series at 7-6-1. Because these two clubs tied together in Week 13, it’s worth pointing out that the Giants also won the one-on-one tiebreaker with this victory. The Dallas Cowboys also clinched a playoff berth in the result.

For a more detailed breakdown of how this game played out, check out our takeaways below.

Why The Giants Won

The Giants didn’t move the ball particularly well offensively. Although they had a 97-yard touchdown to their credit, they average just 5 yards per play and converted just two of their 10 third opportunities on the night. What they really hung their hats on in this game was the defense, especially the pressure they were able to apply to Taylor Heinicke.

Rookie pass thrower Kayvon Thibodeaux made his presence felt early and often as he was a mainstay in Washington’s backfield at the gate. The crowning moment for him came in the first half as he shot from the edge on a second-and-18 play from Washington’s 10-yard line, fired Heinicke, collected the ball and brought it in in the end zone for a touchdown. .

On the night, Thibodeaux had 12 total tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack and that touchdown. He’s the only rookie since at least 2000 with 10 tackles, a sack and a defensive touchdown in a game. That said, the first round wasn’t the only one to pressure the Commanders passing offense as the club finished with three sacks and eight total hits in the win. They also forced two fumbles which helped tip the game in their favor. Dexter Lawrence forced the other fumble late in the fourth quarter and Landon Collins also showed up with a handful of key tackles at the line of scrimmage.

Of course, the offense has had its moments, especially on the pitch. As a team, they rushed for 128 yards on 30 carries, which included clutch chunky runs by Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter after Lawrence’s forced fumble.

Why Commanders Lost

Washington struggled to protect Taylor Heinicke, especially early in the game, but they managed to move the ball at a decent pace (6.7 yards per play) throughout the night. Where they struggled mightily, they converted on the third try. On the night, they converted just one of their 10 third-down situations, and it happened at 2:17 of the fourth quarter. That led them to score a touchdown on just one of their three red-zone trips on the night.

Of course, Heinicke’s pair of fumbles were also key to Washington being on the losing side of this game. Both turnovers led to a total of 10 points on the board for New York, which proved to be the difference in this critical division game.

Even in defeat, it must be pointed out that there seems to have been a blown call by the official during the last offensive play. On a fourth-and-6 play from the New York 6-yard line, Heinicke threw a pass to Curtis Samuel, who was covered by Darnay Holmes. Although he wrapped his arms around his chest, Samuel, officials didn’t flag him for defensive pass interference, and Washington turned the ball over on the downs.

Although Washington had plenty of chances to win this game before then, it looks like the officials missed one here.

Turning

Commanders looked set to turn things around midway through the fourth quarter. Taylor Heinicke hit rookie Jahan Dotson on a 61-yard pass that flipped the field and Brian Robinson followed that up with a 19-yard run on the next play that put Washington at the New York 11-yard line. Trailing by just five points at the time, it was the sweet spot for commanders to either go under three with a possible field goal or reclaim the lead with a touchdown.

However, none of those results ultimately materialized after Heinicke was stripped on a third and a 4 sack.

It was a one-on-one Giants game on several different fronts. Because the officials dismissed Heinicke, first-year head coach Brian Daboll was tasked with raising the red flag for the challenge if he wanted them to take a look. Thanks to their clear recovery by Dexter Lawrence, not only could the officials decide that Heinicke fumbled, but New York would take possession of the ball.

The Giants then got the ball into the hands of Saquon Barkley and the back ripped off several big ground plays. On three consecutive plays, Barkley ran for 12 yards, 15 yards, then 14 yards to not only move into Washington territory, but to bleed time.

New York was then within goal range as Graham Gano scored a 50-yard field goal to drive the lead to eight just after the two-minute warning.

Game of the game

It wasn’t the most prolific night offensively for either team, but Saquon Barkley shone when it mattered most. While his 48 yards rushing on that pivotal drive in the fourth quarter after Heinicke’s fumble was as tight as it gets, the star fullback showed us some fancy footwork earlier in this game.

On a second-and-6 play midway through the second quarter, Daniel Jones hit Barkley with a flat pass to the left side of the field. He grabbed the catch, then scaled Commanders linebacker Jon Bostic and completely broke his ankles with an impressive stuttering pitch juke. Despite being within easy reach of Barkley, quick feet from the back caused Bostic to crumble in on himself as he rushed for the first down.

New York would continue to score on that drive with Barkley taking a straight slam on Washington’s 3-yard line to make it 14-3.

And after

From there, the Giants will head to Minnesota for a Christmas Eve game with the Vikings. As for the Commanders, they’ll also be on the road next Saturday as they tour the Bay Area for a Week 16 showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.

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