The big matchup is set, and just the way the Giants wanted it.
Philadelphia, at the New Meadowlands Stadium, Sunday. The division lead on the line.
It may have taken the Giants a few days – three exactly – and a change of venue to get there. But they finally achieved their desired matchup with a 21-3 vanquishing of the Vikings, on a night made historic not only by their appearance in Detroit’s Ford Field, but by the fact that Brett Favre ended his starting streak at 297 games because of a sprained shoulder.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games. But it got the job done against an eminently beatable, 5-8 Vikings squad.
Here’s the good and the bad.
Brandon Jacobs: Once relegated to backup status, Jacobs had another outstanding game with 14 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Included in the numbers was a 73-yard run that set up his second-quarter touchdown, which came at a time when the struggling offense needed a boost. He continued running with authority, a testament to his freshness after caddying for Bradshaw the first half of the season.
Ahmad Bradshaw: He hurt his wrist at the end of the game, but by then he had compiled 103 yards on 11 carries, including a 48-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach at 21-3.
Hakeem Nicks: He came back a week early from a procedure to relieve the compartment syndrome in his lower right leg that cost him two games and immediately went to work. He caught a team-high seven passes for 96 yards.
Matt Dodge: The rookie punter has been rewarding Tom Coughlin’s faith of late. This was his second straight good game, as he averaged 46.3 yards on seven punts. He still needs to work on the hangtime, as Greg Camarillo returned one liner 52 yards. But at least Dodge didn’t shank any or fumble any snaps. He’s improving.
Run Defense: Couldn’t ask for much better from those guys in holding Vikings workhorse Adrian Peterson to 26 yards on 14 carries. Peterson never got going, as his longest run was for a mere seven yards.
Pass Rush: Four sacks and another busted-up quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson. He eventually had to leave for a couple of fourth-quarter series for rookie Joe Webb. Meanwhile, the pressure up front allowed the defensive backs to cover, with Terrell Thomas doing a particularly good job on downfield threat Sidney Rice.
Eli Manning: Aside from a rocky beginning, he managed the game well. Manning made his 100th straight start and notched his first-ever win against the Vikings after four losses. He finished a workmanlike 22-of-37 for 187 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions.
Keith Bulluck: Things could have turned bad after Camarillo’s long return, but the former Titans Pro Bowl linebacker pulled the Giants back with his first interception of the season. He may not be a fulltime starter anymore, but he’s making the most of his opportunities.
Manning: Oh, but those picks. Two horribly thrown balls make it 19 for him on the season. Throw in his five lost fumbles, and he’s the most generous quarterback in the league this year. Tom Coughlin is going to pull out whatever hair he has left before this season is out if Manning doesn’t change his ways.
Coughlin: DJ Ware is on the bench throughout the game, but the coach doesn’t use him until Bradshaw re-injures his wrist on a fourth-quarter carry. He’s sticking with his starters way too often when the outcome is all but sealed. Ware is your four-minute guy, not Bradshaw or Jacobs. Use him, before one of your two bread-and-butter guys misses a game because of a late injury.
Kevin Boss: He made a big play in catching a 6-yard touchdown pass that put the Giants up 14-3, but he’s dropping way too many throws. Don’t quite know what the problem is with this rough-and-tumble tight end, but he needs to find a solution for the home stretch.
Offensive Line: This unit got David Diehl back at left tackle, then gave up its first sack in six games. A real nitpick there, but hey, we’re filling space, right? Time to go on another streak.