The Vikings defense has been the team’s Achilles’ heel all season. Minnesota ended the season ranked 31st in total defense and tied for 28th in scoring defense.
But most of the season, the Vikings were able to overcome any deficiencies and find a way to win. They were 11-0 in one-score games in the regular season, including a 27-24 victory over the Giants on Christmas Eve.
This time, though, there wasn’t a fourth quarter comeback, a last-play field goal or a one-score win. Instead, the Vikings’ season ended in a 31-24 loss to the Giants.
New York, which won for only the third time in nine games, advances to the divisional round next weekend. The Giants will play division rival Philadelphia for a third time this season.
Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, completing 24 of 35 passes. He also ran for 78 yards on 17 carries.
Saquon Barkley had touchdown runs of 28 and 2 yards, finishing with 53 yards on nine carries. He also caught five passes for 56 yards. Isaiah Hodgins had eight receptions for 105 yards, and Darius Slay added four receptions for 88 yards.
The Giants went for it on fourth-and-one at their own 45 with 3:28 left, and a Jones quarterback sneak got it easily. The Giants finished 2-for-2 on fourth down Sunday. But three plays later, a wide-open Slayton dropped a pass on third-and-15 with the Vikings out of timeouts with 3:03 left.
The Giants had to punt for only the second time all day.
It got slightly interesting when Dexter Lawrence was called for a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Kirk Cousins on second-and-four from the Minnesota 18. Instead of third-and-four, the Vikings got a new set of downs at their own 18. But the Vikings’ hopes died at their own 48 when T.J. Hockenson was stopped by Xavier McKinney for a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-eight.
The Giants gained 431 yards to the Vikings’ 332.
Cousins was 31-of-39 for 273 yards and two touchdowns but falls to 1-3 in postseason starts.
Justin Jefferson gained only 47 yards on seven catches with Hockenson catching 10 for 129 yards.