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Giants at Vikings: Stats and Analysis of Giants' 27-24 Defeat

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The New York Giants failed to complete the underdog victory over the Minnesota Vikings on the road Saturday afternoon.

This was an exciting, close game that felt like a real back-and-forth competition. Both teams are used to playing in high-pressure situations and almost all of their games this season have been decided by a scoreline.

Games that are so close – and exciting – often have details that escape our memory. Let’s take a quick look at the game’s stats and analysis to see what details might have been lost in the adrenaline haze that colored the last three minutes of the game.

game plays

This game’s win probability graph was absolutely wild, with some massive swings in win probability throughout the second half.

It looked like a much closer game than the chart suggested, especially since it takes into account that the Vikings were favored by 4.5 points going into the game. During the game, it looked like both teams were about to take over and pull away. And that may be what these jagged jumps in winning probability reflect. But as we can see from now on always reversed, neither team was able to really break away from the other.

Increased win probability added

The biggest play of the game in terms of added winning probability was, of course, Greg Joseph’s game-winning field goal. That kick was worth 35 points in winning probability, and all Joseph had to do was break his previous run by five yards with the pressure at an all-time high.

The second biggest play of the game came almost immediately before Joseph’s game-winning kick when Landon Collins sacked Kirk Cousins.

This was one of the more mysterious plays of the game, as Cousins ​​held the ball for a subjective eternity as he looked for an out. Instead of throwing the ball wide to stop the clock and preserve yardage, Cousins ​​took a devastating sack that knocked the Vikings from a 71 percent chance of winning to 50. Of course, his next play was a 17-yard pass. for Justin Jefferson. which recovered most of the lost win probability.

Most anticipated points added

The two biggest plays of the game had an identical -5.6 expected points added (or better, 5.6 expected points lost) for the Giants.

They were, unsurprisingly, Daniel Jones’ interception and Daniel Bellinger’s fumble. Those two plays stopped the Giants’ offense and were responsible for huge swings in the flow of the game. Fortunately, the Giants’ defense caught the offense and those two turnovers added just three points for the Vikings. The fumble (finally) turned into a field goal, while the interception turned into a turnover on downs (more on that in a moment).

The next two highest plays in terms of expected points were Saquon Barkley’s touchdown run (+5.0 points expected) and Justin Jefferson’s 17-yard touchdown reception (+3.5 points expected).

The fourth drop told the story

One of the stories from this game that may not get much publicity is how both teams played in high leverage situations. Three plays in particular stand out as being particularly game-defining.

The first was Kirk Cousins’ pass to Justin Jefferson on fourth and 2 with 9:01 left in the fourth quarter. The Vikings failed to convert on that play after Adam Thielen ran the wrong route and pulled coverage on Justin Jefferson and narrowed the catching window. There was some talk of whether or not the Vikings made the right call in being aggressive there, but the odds suggested that trying to convert fourth down was the right call.

Of course, whether attempting a deep kick was the right way to go is another question. We don’t know if the attempt would have been successful if it had been executed correctly. But even so, this is one of those calls that is advertised as “bold” if it works and “dumb” if it doesn’t.

Next is the blocked punt to put the Vikings on the Giants’ 29-yard line.

The Giants obviously made the correct punting decision there, as trying to convert a fourth and 4 from their own 23-yard line is the kind of thing you only do if you’re absolutely desperate.

Adding 2.5 points to your winning odds is no small feat, and Jamie Gillan made some impressive punts in this game. He has the leg to really turn the field around and the Giants defense has been playing really well this game.

What the model did not predict was the impact of a blocked punt.

If so, that failure proved to be potentially disastrous for the Giants. Minnesota had a 68 percent chance of winning when Daniel Jones’s pass to Isaiah Hodgins fell incomplete on third down. After the blocked punt, however, Minnesota had an 80% chance of winning – a 12-point drive on what should have been a routine play.

Kirk Cousins ​​would find TJ Hockenson for a touchdown five plays after that blocked punt.

We finally got to the Giants’ fourth and 2 on the Vikings’ 27-yard line on the ensuing drive. Going forward was a downright easy decision, as the Giants were trailing by eight points and a field goal would likely have been the same as a surrender.

Again, the model does not account for the offense not only converting the first down, but scoring the touchdown. In this case, a 3.6-point win probability turned into an impressive 15-point win probability, dropping the Vikings’ chances of winning from 93% to 78%.

So while the decision to go ahead was an obvious one, what would have been a great move became a move that absolutely would have been “The Play of the Game” in almost any other game.

It’s a mark of how wild this game was that it was just the sixth highest bid in the game.

Defense credit

The Giants were led by their defense in their victory over the Washington Commanders a week ago. There’s a good argument that they wouldn’t be in a position to win this week without their defense play either.

The Giants managed four sacks and 11 quarterback hits over the course of the game. The Giants’ four forwards, as well as Wink Martindale’s blitz schemes, were generating consistent pressure on Kirk Cousins.

Of course, the Vikings defense also put pressure on Daniel Jones. They recorded three sacks, a forced fumble, and 11 quarterback hits.

It’s actually quite remarkable how similarly the two defensive fronts played in this game.

The effect of the pressure on Cousins ​​was noticeable when we pulled back and compared it to his stats throughout the season.

For starters, Cousins’ shooting average was 2.72 seconds, down from his season average of 2.82. While a tenth of a second doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s significant at an NFL level – especially considering that Cousins ​​had several plays where he held the ball longer than he should have.

Cousins ​​was also forced to rely on shorter pitches than he had during the season. His average intended pass was over half a meter shorter against the Giants than the season average (7.1 to 7.7 yards intended), while his average completion was 1.4 yards shorter (4.6 to 6 converted air yards).

The Giants also did a much better job of containing the run than they had the week before.

Dalvin Cook still had a solid day, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. But he is still a long way from Brian Robinson’s 7.1 average. As we might expect, he did most of his damage against the perimeter of the Giants’ defense. This is still a marked improvement for one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

It’s not a controversial statement to say that the Giants’ defense was outplayed late in the game. However, we must credit the defense for doing as much as they did to keep a good Vikings offense in check.