Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants celebrates after defeating...

Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants celebrates after defeating the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Kayvon Thibodeaux was so overcome by the way Sunday’s game ended, he could not contain his emotions.

He’d waited his whole life to get into the league, then waited longer than he thought he’d have to for his first sack.

It finally came on Sunday.

It wasn’t just that he recorded it, though. It was the when and the how.

It came after the Giants had scored to take the lead over the Ravens, with Thibodeaux pushing through with a second effort to catch up to slippery Lamar Jackson and punch the ball out of his hands. Leonard Williams recovered the loose ball with 1:30 left to seal the 24-20 win.

“Now I’m in the NFL,” Thibodeaux said. “It was the greatest moment.”

So great, in fact, that as the team spilled onto the field to celebrate another improbable victory, Thibodeaux couldn’t help himself.

He wept.

Teammate and mentor Jihad Ward rolled his eyes upon hearing of the tears. “He’s a nut,” he said.

Williams wasn’t surprised to hear about the crying.

“I love that guy,” he said.

As for Thibodeaux, he made no apologies.

“Cool guys cry, too.”

The Giants didn’t draft him to be an emotional wreck, though. They brought him here to wreck games. Sunday was the first glimpse of that power.

Great pass rushers are like great relief pitchers minus the hyped-up walk-in music. They show up late and make a final lasting impact on the outcome. That’s something the Giants haven’t had for a number of years, an edge rusher they could rely on to slam the door closed with the game hanging in the balance. A guy who comes up huge in huge moments.

On Sunday, Thibodeaux filled that role for the first time in his short career with the Giants.

He was the closer. He not only got his first sack but recorded his first save.

“This is what they pay me to be there for,” Thibodeaux said. “The fact I was able to get that done, it’s a great feeling.”

Timmy Trumpet doesn’t have a baseball team to glom onto for a few more months. Maybe he’d like to jump on this Giants bandwagon and toot for Thibodeaux?

Maybe those first few weeks of coming close to recording his first career sack but not quite reaching the stat sheet were, like so many other magical elements of this team, somehow meant to be.

Lots of players record sacks and plenty of rookies register their first ones each week. They come in all kinds of moments: early in games, in losses, in blowout wins.

None of that would suit Thibodeaux. His first needed to be as emphatic as he is, as gaudy as the bejeweled hunk of gold he hung from his neck in the postgame locker room as if he were in a one-man Olympic medal ceremony with his own anthem playing.

It needed to be as loud as the hooting that began in one corner of the locker room for Thibodeaux when he was surrounded by reporters, howling and woofing that he himself joined in with in the middle of an answer before picking up right where he left off after the celebration.

It needed to come with the game teetering. It needed to be a result-influencing sack. It needed to be big.

It was all of that.

While he was walking out of the stadium, Giants radio analyst and Ring of Honor linebacker Carl Banks was asked if he remembered his first NFL sack in relation to Thibodeaux’s. He did, of course.

“But it wasn’t as dramatic as that,” he said.

Banks wasn’t as dramatic a player. Or a person. Few are.

After the locker room show was over and all the cameras and microphones were put away, Thibodeaux walked out of the room with a football nestled under his arm. It was the one he punched out of Jackson’s hands.

Williams recovered it, but Thibodeaux wound up with it in the end.

“I let him have it,” Williams said. “I recovered it, but I’ve recovered fumbles before, and this was his first sack in his NFL career. A game-winning sack. Those are rare. I think it means a lot more to him.”

He didn’t see him crying. He had no idea.

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