A handful of the New York Giants faithful braved freezing temperatures and potentially canceled New Year’s Eve plans to watch their woebegone team for the final time until September.
The Giants, in perhaps an unexpected twist, rewarded the faith of their loyalists.
Running back Orleans Darkwa tallied a career-high 154 yards on 20 carries, igniting a chilly East Rutherford afternoon with a 75-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. That gave the Giants an early lead they would not relinquish, taking an 18-10 decision to wrap up the 2017 season.
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 31, 2017
The Giants (3-13) capped off perhaps the worst year in franchise history by opening the Dave Gettleman era in style. After Darkwa’s run to glory, limited to at 6-0 after the extra point was blocked, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard intercepted Kirk Cousins deep in Washington territory to set up the first career touchdown grab for receiver Hunter Sharp. Formerly of Denver’s practice squad, Sharp, scoring from 16 yards out, became the 50th receiver to catch a Manning touchdown pass.
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) December 31, 2017
Down 12-0 after stifling the Giants’ two-point attempt, the Redskins (7-9) failed to make more headway after Redskins linebacker Preston Smith’s interception set up a Cousins 12-yard scoring run.
The Giants avoided a sweep at the hands of Washington, as Cousins, perhaps playing his final game in burgundy, was intercepted two other times, including a final turnover to Sheppard on a potential game tying drive. Cornerback Ross Cockrell, a pending free agent like Darkwa, tallied his third interception over the past two games, also had an interception in the third quarter.
In what became a perfect scenario for the Giants, the Indianapolis Colts’ 22-13 win over the Houston Texans ensured that the Giants would get the second overall selection in this spring’s NFL Draft.