Kayvon Thibodeaux becomes Giants’ closer as first sack brings him to tears
Kayvon Thibodeaux was crying when it ended, after the first sack of his NFL career ended it, a strip sack of Lamar Jackson that bounced into the hands of Leonard Williams. After he was every bit the closer that Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan were when they would emphatically answer the prayers of loud and proud Giants fans willing their team home.
“This is what they pay me to be here for,” Thibodeaux said.
He had knelt at midfield after Giants 24, Ravens 20.
ALL GIANTS FANS RN: pic.twitter.com/Cld4AfQXa4— New York Giants (@Giants) October 16, 2022
“I just came to the middle, I had to pray just because God did bless me and I continue to be blessed, and now that I can really make it happen, I couldn’t be any more thankful,” Thibodeaux told The Post on his way out of the locker room.
Someone had asked at his locker: “Did you cry?”
Thibodeaux said: “Yeah I really cried. Seriously.”
Someone asked “Do you cry a lot?”
Thibodeaux chuckled and said: “You know, yeah, I mean yeah. Cool guys cry.”
Giants fans cry too, although for the first time in what seems like forever, they cry tears of joy.
The Giants are 5-1.
The Giants are for real.
“We believe,” Jihad Ward said.
“I feel like we’re a great team,” Saquon Barkley said. “We’re a very confident team, we know that. Like coach said, it’s OK to be happy, but you don’t need to get overconfident — continue to stay humble, continue to keep that mindset, get better each day and love the process.”
They play 60 minutes every Sunday and they never stop believing that they will find a way to win.
Down 20-10 in the fourth quarter to Lamar Jackson?
Ahead 24-20 with Jackson 75 yards and 1:40 from winning it?
Not in Kayvon Thibodeaux’s new house.
“It was more of an effort sack, less than a first-move sack,” he said.
He posted #thecloser on Instagram with a photo of him holding the game ball.
“Lamar’s tricky and shifty, so one thing we teach is getting that rip at the end, making sure you finish,” Thibodeaux said, “so that time I had emphasis on my finish and … one for the good guys.”
One for The Closer.
“When you walk off a win, that’s the difference between just a football player and a closer,” Thibodeaux said.
He had been dreaming about that elusive first sack. It meant everything to him to be The Closer, and you saw that when he unleashed a celebratory salsa.
“I told my man Victor Cruz, I said, ‘If I get a sack today, I’m hitting the salsa,’ so I had to go out there and do it,” Thibodeaux said. “He’s a legend. So I had to pay respect.”
His big personality? He bathed in locker room cheers from teammates.
“Yeah superstar! Yeah superstar!” Xavier McKinney shouted.
This is one together football team.
“In the draft question they asked ‘What sets me apart between me and everybody else that play my position?’ ” Thibodeaux said outside the locker room, “and it’s the fact that I’m a closer.”
Ravens backup right tackle Patrick Mekari never knew what whizzed by him.
“I told Lamar when we were playing, I asked him I said, ‘If I get a sack on you, can I get your jersey?’ He said he’s gonna send it to me, so I’m still gonna hold him to it,” Thibodeaux said.
Williams ran toward the crowd in the end zone and held the football high in his right hand as he did.
“I took the ball to the sideline, gave it to the equipment people and made sure Thibs got it,” Williams said, “and I’m glad he gets to take that home as a trophy with him tonight.”
Brian Daboll deserves a trophy for changing the culture the way he has and energizing the franchise. Consider how the Giants played the game in the fourth quarter:
Daniel Jones (19 of 27, 173 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) was 5-for-5 on the TD drive that culminated with his 8-yard TD pass to rookie TE Daniel Bellinger that cut the deficit to 20-17.