MINNEAPOLIS — The Giants finally got their forward group on defense all together and thought that unit could help make up for shortcomings at inside linebacker and secondary. The quartet of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari at outside linebacker and Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams inside gave the Giants a game-dominant unit.
This unit played a huge part in a 20-12 victory last Sunday over the Commanders, but this unit did not emerge from its 27-24 loss on Saturday to the Vikings inside US Bank Stadium healthy and intact. .
Ojulari had a sack from Kirk Cousins in the second quarter but left after that with an ankle injury. Ojulari was hauled into the locker room, a huge loss for the Giants. The sophomore rusher has been in tears since returning from a calf injury in Week 13, going 4.5 sacks over the last four games.
Ojulari said his ankle had “wrapped around” and X-rays taken after the match were negative for any structural damage.
“It’s painful,” he said and expressed hope that he could play in the next game, on New Year’s Day against the Colts.
It was difficult for Ojulari, who was a terror when he was able to step onto the pitch. A strained hamstring in training camp caused him to miss the first two games of the season. He was able to play in Weeks 3 and 4, but a calf injury sidelined him again as he missed the next seven games.
Nick Gates started at left guard last week, but Ben Bredeson returned from a knee injury and played the majority of snaps against Washington. This did not result in a change in the starting lineup, as Gates was with the first team offense at the start of the game against the Vikings. Gates was called for a first-quarter waiting penalty and Bredeson was given the bulk of the work afterwards.
Before the end of the first quarter, WR Justin Jefferson had three catches for 38 yards, allowing him to pass Randy Moss to set a Vikings franchise record for receiving yards in a season. He now has 1,756 yards; Moss had 1,632 receiving yards in 2003.
Both teams are experts at playing close games this season. The Vikings are an NFL record 11-0 in one possession games. The Giants have the second most wins in one possession games, with an 8-3-1 record.
Close games happen everywhere. Heading into the weekend, 133 games this season had been decided by eight points or less, the most in 15 weeks in league history. The Vikings are only the third team to win at least 10 games in a season by one possession, joining the Houston Oilers (1978) and Seahawks (2019).
The Giants had only two injured players on their inactive roster: CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee) and G Shane Lemieux (toe). The other inactive players for the match: WR David Sills, CB Rodarius Williams and G Jack Anderson. … The Vikings were without two injured starters: C Garrett Bradbury and CB Cameron Dantzler.