Giants beat Commanders in prime time to end winless skid

Dec 18, 2022, 6:37 AM | Updated: 8:43 pm
New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the...

New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) gets the offense set during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat (90) tries to bring down New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) runs the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            
              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws the ball as he is chased by Washington Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis (52) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) is tackled by Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            
              New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) celebrates a touchdown by running back Saquon Barkley (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Kayvon Thibodeaux was prepared for the national stage just like he promised, Daniel Jones shined under the lights to end his career-long skid in night games and the New York Giants beat the Washington Commanders 20-12 on Sunday to bolster their playoff chances and hurt those of a rival.

After declaring, “Prime time likes me,” Thibodeaux was a force rushing the passer and busting into the backfield early and often. He stripped Taylor Heinicke of the ball, recovered it to score a touchdown and finished with three tackles for loss among his game-high 12 before being helped off the field with 48 seconds left.

Jones, 0-9 in his first nine prime-time games for the Giants (8-5-1) who had lost 11 in a row in these situations, threaded throws through tight windows in beating the Commanders (7-6-1) with his arm rather than running all over Washington as he did in many of their previous meetings. He was 21 of 32 for 160 yards and engineered an 18-play touchdown drive in the second quarter that started at the 3 and lasted 8:35.

Saquon Barkley finished that drive with a 3-yard run into the end zone on a direct snap. Held to 39 yards on 12 carries in the first 3 1/2 quarters, Barkley more than doubled his total on the drive that ended with a field goal from Graham Gano and finished with 87 yards.

New York’s defense stopped Washington on a goal-to-go situation in the final minutes, with Darnay Holmes making the final pass breakup on a play that arguably could have been called pass interference. That sealed the victory and ended a four-game winless streak.

The Giants strengthened their hold on the second of three NFC wild-card spots behind the division rival Dallas Cowboys and now have the tiebreaker over Washington. That’s especially important because these teams played to a 20-all tie two weeks ago.

The loss, just the Commanders’ second in nine games, puts them in a tougher spot but keeps them in a playoff position, half a game up on Seattle and Detroit.

Heinicke fumbled again at the New York 9-yard line with six minutes left in the fourth quarter on a play correctly challenged by Giants coach Brian Daboll. He was 17 of 29 for 249 yards passing with a touchdown throw to Jahan Dotson.

Terry McLaurin made six catches for 70 yards, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for a third consecutive season and becoming Washington’s first player to do that since Henry Ellard from 1994-96. McLaurin took a costly illegal formation penalty on Washington’s final drive that pushed the ball back from the 1 to the 6-yard line.

LUCRATIVE CATCH

One of Jones’ best throws was also a very valuable catch for receiver Richie James. Their 10-yard completion on third down during the 18-play drive was James’ 40th catch of the season and cashed the $100,000 incentive in his contract for reaching that mark.

INJURIES

Giants: RT Evan Neal remained in the game after having his left foot/ankle looked at on the bench early. … DT Leonard Williams returned after missing last week’s game with a neck injury.

Commanders: CB Benjamin St-Juste missed a third consecutive game with an ankle injury.

UP NEXT

Giants: Visit the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.

Commanders: Visit the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.

___

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Giants beat Commanders in prime time to end winless skid