Giants miss likelihood to clinch playoff berth, nonetheless management destiny

MINNEAPOLIS — The New York Giants missed an opportunity to make the playoffs on Saturday when they lost 27-24 to the Minnesota Vikings on a 61-yard field goal as time expired at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Thanks to losses by the Detroit Lions in Carolina and Seattle Seahawks in Kansas City, the Giants are still in a win-and-they’re-in situation next week when they host the Indianapolis Colts. Washington (7-7-1) also lost later in the day in San Francisco to help out New York.

“We control our own destiny,” Giants running back Saquon Barkley said. “Win and you’re in. At home. That’s beautiful.”

The Giants (8-6-1) are looking to end a five-year playoff drought. In fact, they entered this season tied with the New York Jets for the worst record in the NFL over the previous five seasons. They are currently sixth in the NFC in one of the final wild-card spots.

New York had its chances to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday afternoon in Minnesota. But the Giants had key drops, let an interception slip through their hands, had a punt blocked and threw an interception … in the fourth quarter alone. They did, however, drive down the field and score on a 27-yard touchdown run by Barkley before converting the 2-point conversion to tie the game with 2:01 remaining.

The Vikings, the NFC North champions, drove down the field for the game-winning field goal moments later and kept the Giants from joining them in the postseason. For now, at least.

“The fact that we didn’t do that is sort of disappointing,” quarterback Daniel Jones said.

It puts a lot on the line for Sunday against the Colts.

“Huge” is how wide receiver Darius Slayton described that game. Slayton, along with players like Jones, Barkley, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and a good chunk of this Giants roster, has never been to the playoffs.

“I kind of feel all these weeks [are huge] late in the second half of the season,” Slayton said. “It’s always, ‘You gotta win this week.'”

The Giants were coming off a massive win on Sunday night over the Washington Commanders that put their odds of making the postseason at 91%, per ESPN analytics.

Coach Brian Daboll and most of the players said they were unaware Saturday of the Seahawks and Lions losing at the same time as the Giants. Barkley found out about those results when talking to the media.

Daboll didn’t mention it afterward when addressing his team.

“Yeah, it wasn’t really something that popped up,” Jones said. “Our focus was on this week and win this game this week, and we didn’t do that. So as far as how that affects our playoff picture, that’s not something we’re focused on. We want to win the game. That is always our goal.”

Daboll even downplayed the idea that the last-second loss was a missed opportunity because of the playoff implications.

“I look at it as, ‘Let’s get ready for the Colts,'” he said. “We had some missed opportunities [vs. Minnesota]. Fix what we need to fix and get ready for the Colts.”

Does that make next week an even bigger game?

“Same as this week. Same as all the weeks,” Daboll said. “They’re all big. There are only 17 of them.”

The Giants have two games remaining. After hosting the Colts they play on the road against the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18. How Philadelphia handles that game could go in several different directions contingent on what is at stake for both teams.

The Giants don’t want to leave it to chance. They would like to secure their spot against the Colts.

“Preferably playing in front of your home crowd and getting a chance to go out there and get a win,” Slayton said, “obviously that’s what you want to do.”

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