McKinney had missed eight games with a hand injury, and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was out for seven games with a knee injury, but both were in action to help hold the Vikings’ Pro Bowl receivers in check. Justin Jefferson had just seven catches for 47 yards, Adam Thielen had three grabs for 50, and neither caught a touchdown pass.
The teams traded touchdowns on their opening possessions — a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Cousins and a 28-yard scamper by Barkley. On the Giants’ next drive, Jones hit receiver Isaiah Hodgins for a touchdown on an 18-yard dart with about a minute remaining in the first quarter.
The Vikings struggled to contain Jones on scrambles and designed runs, and the quarterback took off on the ground on the first drive of the second quarter. He ran on seven plays of an 86-yard drive that seemed to end with Jones scoring on a 4-yard rush, but the touchdown was nullified because of an illegal shift. Giants kicker Graham Gano converted a 25-yard field goal to bring the Giants’ lead to 17-7.
Jones finished the game with 78 rushing yards, 71 of them coming in the first half.
Minnesota responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to K.J. Osborn just before the two-minute warning, closing the gap to 17-14 at halftime.
The shootout continued to start the third quarter. Jones found tight end Daniel Bellinger for a 9-yard touchdown pass, then Cousins threw a 3-yard connection to tight end Irv Smith, bringing the score to 24-21.
On the Vikings’ next drive, a false start penalty negated a successful fourth-down attempt, but Greg Joseph kicked a 38-yard field goal with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game, tying the score at 24. The Giants then orchestrated a 12-play drive, marching 75 yards over four minutes that concluded with a Barkley 2-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Giants a 31-24 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.
With time winding down for two teams that had built their seasons on thrilling comebacks, things tightened the rest of the way. The Giants failed to convert a third-down attempt near midfield when Darius Slayton dropped a perfectly thrown pass by Daniel Jones with about three minutes remaining in the game.
The drop stopped the clock and returned the ball to the Vikings. Cousins completed three short passes to Hockenson before coming up short on McKinney’s big stop.