MINNEAPOLIS — Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins exploded for a career day in his playoff debut on Sunday, leading the Giants with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
He also made two big plays to set up Saquon Barkley’s game-winning fourth quarter TD run: Hodgins made a difficult 19-yard catch on the left sideline to the Vikings’ 26.
Then later, he drew a holding call in the end zone on veteran Vikings corner Patrick Peterson to move the Giants up to the 2-yard line before
Hodgins, 24, a November waiver claim from the Buffalo Bills, now has 41 catches for 456 yards and five TDs in nine games with the team. He has caught a TD pass from Daniel Jones in five of his last six games.
And he admitted after Sunday’s win that he plays with the mindset that he is unstoppable.
“You have to have that mindset as a receiver,” he said. “That’s something I really learned in Buffalo with Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, John Brown, Gabe Davis: When you line up, I’m the best receiver on that field and no one can stop me. You just have to believe in that and have that confidence in yourself, go out there play by play and show that improvement.”
Star Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson made three catches for 25 yards on the Vikings’ game-opening touchdown drive, but he finished with only seven grabs for 47 yards.
The return of top corner Adoree Jackson from a seven-week absence due to a knee injury made an enormous difference.
“The first drive wasn’t really the best outcome, but I knew he was gonna make plays and I didn’t waver,” Jackson said. “I trusted in the scheme, the game plan that Wink [Martindale] had. I put in a lot of work to come back and play, but I knew it was gonna be a dog fight because of the caliber of player he is. Just thankful for the opportunity and to be able to come back in the nick of time and play.”
RUN, DANIEL, RUN
Jones set a new Giants new franchise record for QB single-game playoff rushing yards with 78 on the ground. He broke a record previously held by Ed Danowski, who had carried the ball 20 times for 69 yards on Dec. 9, 1934, in a 30-13 NFL Championship win over the Chicago Bears, per StatsPass.
“I’m always looking for those opportunities and some opened up early on in the game,” Jones said. “So I just tried to take advantage of that. Wasn’t necessarily planned coming in.”
Veteran receiver Kenny Golladay played only four snaps, but he buried Vikings corner Duke Shelley on a crushing block on the outside to free Barkley for a 10-yard swing pass and first down on the go-ahead fourth quarter drive.
It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Kenny Golladay, you see that block?” coach Brian Daboll said. “It’s all about team. And when individuals get an opportunity they have to make the most of it.”
Safety Jason Pinnock, a Pitt college teammate of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, was taken to a local hospital and evaluated for an abdomen injury he sustained in the fourth quarter. But fortunately, Pinnock was released, returned to the locker room just before the team departed, and was cleared to fly home.
Corner Nick McCloud, a close friend of Hamlin’s and Pinnock’s, said he definitely felt all of those emotions when Pinnock went down covering a kickoff.
“Definitely,” McCloud said. “He was down there for a minute. It shook me up a little bit. I ran out there as fast as I could to make sure he was alright. I knew he was breathing and everything. So we’re gonna pray for the best for him.”
ODDS AND ENDS
The Giants hadn’t scored 30 points in 43 games straight games before Week 17. Now they’ve done it twice in three games: 38-10 over the Colts and now 31-24 over the Vikings. That’s two straight games that the starters have played in which the Giants have scored 30-plus … Edge Azeez Ojluari was ruled out with a quad injury after playing only eight first-half snaps (seven in the first quarter and one in the second). Ojulari, who has been hurt the majority of the season, had been limited on Wednesday with an ankle injury before being removed from the injury report with no designation for the game … The NFL delayed kickoff of Giants-Vikings on FOX 10 minutes from 4:40 p.m. ET to 4:50 p.m. because the Bills and Dolphins were running over on CBS. The Vikings actually put the Buffalo Miami game on the U.S. Bank Stadium Jumbotron for fans to watch in the interim … The Giants’ inactives were linebacker Micah McFadden, guards Jack Anderson and Wyatt Davis,, corner Rodarius Williams, defensive tackle Henry Mondeaux, and practice squad call-ups running back Jashaun Corbin and wideout Kalil Pimpleton It appears the Giants simply called up Corbin and Pimpleton as a financial reward for their hard work this season, similar to their initial call-up of quarterback Davis Webb in the regular season. The Vikings’ inactives were CB Cameron Dantzler, RB Ty Chandler, OLB Luiji Vilain, DL Esezi Otomewo and DL Ross Blacklock.