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Giants hold off Commanders, improve wild-card chances

Dec 18, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown  against the Washington Commanders during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kayvon Thibodeaux returned his strip-sack fumble for a score and Saquon Barkley added a rushing touchdown to lift the New York Giants to a 20-12 victory over the host Washington Commanders on Sunday in Landover, Md.

The win gives the Giants (8-5-1) a one-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Commanders (7-6-1) with three games remaining as both are in a close NFC wild-card race with several teams. Washington and the Giants played to a 20-20 tie on Dec. 4 in East Rutherford, N.J.

Daniel Jones was 21-for-32 passing for 160 yards, in addition to rushing for 35 yards on 10 carries. Barkley ran for 87 yards on 18 carries and Richie James had four catches for 42 yards.

For Washington, Taylor Heinicke was 17-for-29 passing for 249 yards and a score, while Brian Robinson Jr. ran for 89 yards on 12 carries. Jahan Dotson had four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown and Terry McLaurin added six receptions for 70 yards.

Trailing 14-3 at halftime, the Commanders pulled to within 14-9 on Heinicke’s 19-yard scoring strike to Jahan Dotson with 8:38 left in the third quarter. Joey Slye missed the extra-point kick.

Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal pushed the Giants lead to 17-9 with 3:11 left in the third quarter before Slye’s 51-yarder made it 17-12 with 12:31 left in the game.

After Heinicke’s fumble on the Giants’ 9-yard line gave New York the ball back with a little more than six minutes remaining, the Giants ended their possession with Gano’s 50-yard field goal for a 20-12 lead with 1:55 remaining.

The Commanders drove to the Giants’ 1-yard with a minute left, but after an illegal formation penalty wiped out Robinson’s touchdown run, Heinicke threw two incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.

After the Commanders took a 3-0 lead on Slye’s 41-yard field goal with 2:51 left in the first quarter, the Giants’ defense gave New York the lead for good early in the second quarter.

With the Redskins facing an early second and 18 from their own 10-yard line, Thibodeaux beat left tackle Charles Leno Jr. around the edge. The rookie linebacker knocked the ball out of Heinicke’s hand, picked it up at the 1-yard line and ran into the end zone, giving the Giants a 7-3 advantage with 13:10 left in the first half.

The Giants extended their lead to 14-3 when Barkley’s 3-yard touchdown run capped an 18-play, 97-yard drive with 1:43 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

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