Golden received the early Christmas gift Tuesday when he was informed that a half sack of Dwayne Haskins early in the third quarter was being changed to a full sack. Golden raced around the left edge on the play and brought down Haskins, whose ankle was being held by linebacker Lorenzo Carter. The Giants teammates originally shared the sack.
But after further review -- which happens on a weekly basis with certain disputed plays -- a correction was made. Golden was credited with the full sack. It gave him 10 this season and triggered the lucrative incentive.
"I earned it," said Golden, who has been among the team's best and most consistent players this season.
The Giants signed Golden to a one-year, prove-it deal this offseason. It was for $3.75 million, with the additional $1 million available if he reached double-digit sacks.
Golden has done his part, performing at a pre-injury level. Golden had 12.5 sacks for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, but he injured his knee the following year. He had 2.5 sacks combined in 2017 and '18.
Getting back to double digits was meaningful.
"It's always a goal to get double-digit sacks," he said. "If you're rushing the passer, you want to get there. It's a status thing -- 9.5 is a big difference than 10. It feels good to get it down, get it over with and, like I said, be able to put it out for my kids to be able to keep playing, keep fighting."
Golden is the first Giants player to reach double-digit sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul (12.5) in 2014. Golden has been the Giants' best pass-rusher this season by a wide margin, leading the team in sacks (10), tackles for loss (17) and quarterback hits (27). He has more than twice as many sacks and quarterback hits as anybody else on the roster.
It's something that defensive coordinator James Bettcher has seen before. Bettcher was the defensive coordinator in Arizona in 2016 when Golden had his career year.
What Bettcher has seen this season makes him believe Golden is back.
"I think just the burst. The power that he's able to play with," Bettcher said of what has him sold. "When he rushes, Markus might be the first one to tell you, he's a bloody rusher. To have his power back from his lower half of his body to be able to have his burst, he might separate from a blocker, and that first two steps off the block, that burst, is important for guys like Markus. You could see that back.
"With it comes confidence. Confidence comes because you feel good and you're able to do some of the things that you know you've been able to do in your career. You can see that confidence going and he's pretty dynamic."
It has Golden $1 million richer and ready for a potential payday as a free agent this offseason.