Stat worth noting: New York lost despite having no turnovers, which has been a very rare occurrence since Tom Coughlin took over as coach.
Stat worth noting II: New York hurt itself with seven penalties for 49 yards, while Minnesota was only flagged twice for 20 yards.
Turning point: Sooner or later, it had to happen. Thank heavens for the Giants that it came in a meaningless contest. John Carney finally showed human traits. New York’s near-perfect kicker missed his first non-blocked field goal of the season, a 48-yarder late in the game that would have extended Big Blue’s two-point lead. The snap and hold were fine; Carney just pushed the kick a little wide to the right.
Play to remember: New York had a 16-10 lead late in the third quarter, but the Vikings were threatening at the Giants 6-yard line. Tarvaris Jackson thought he20had Bernard Berrian open in the end zone for the lead, but Giants safety James Butler stepped in front of the pass and returned it 47 yards. Butler’s third pick of the season tied him with Aaron Ross and Corey Webster for the team high and was the first forced turnover for New York’s defense in three games.
Play to forget: Early in the second quarter, Adrian Peterson did what Adrian Peterson does. He ripped through a crease off right tackle and raced 67 yards for a touchdown that gave Minnesota a 10-0 lead. Justin Tuck was double-teamed and blocked in the back to help create the opening for Peterson, and Corey Webster was unable to close the gap before Peterson reached the goal line. Needless to say, the Vikes declined the offsides penalty on Giants DT Jay Alford.
What went right
David Carr showed that the Giants would likely be just fine if he had to fill in for Eli Manning for a short period of time. Carr picked apart the Minnesota secondary in the second half, completing 8-off-11 passes for 110 yards. He also tossed a perfect 23-yard scoring strike to Domenik Hixon.
While Hixon led New York with four catches for 62 yards, Manning and Carr benefited from great play from three little-used receivers that stepped up in Minnesota. Darcy Johnson caught two passes for 44 yards, Sinorice Moss, on his 25th birthday, grabbed two balls for 43 yards, and rookie Mario Manningham chipped in with a pair of receptions for 21 yards.
Both safety Michael Johnson and rookie LB Bryan Kehl were able to successfully execute blitzes and sack Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson in the first half. Both players timed their rush perfectly and came clean through the line to drop Jackson.
They clinched the top seed the previous week against Carolina, which allowed them to rest several key players and not be hurt in the least by the last-second loss.
What went wrong
New York’s mostly-reserve defense allowed the Vikings to move 30 yards on their game-winning drive, which was capped by a 50-yard Ryan Longwell field goal as time expired.
New York lost the services of savvy, veteran CB Sam Madison, who broke his ankle late in the third quarter. He was carted into the locker room after the third period and will be lost for the playoffs.
Already playing without injured starters Brandon Jacobs, Aaron Ross, Kevin Boss and Barry Cofield, New York lost Boss’ backup, Michael Matthews, to an ankle injury for a couple series in the second quarter.
Rookie cornerback Terrell Thomas simply fell down, allowing Vikings WR Bernard Berrian to score on a 54-yard TD. Berrian put a little move on Thomas, who lost his balance, leaving Berrian wide open for the score that moved Minnesota within 19-17.
As usual, John Carney’s kickoffs were short, but the Giants kickoff coverage team was awful. Minnesota KR Maurice Hicks averaged 36.7 yards on three kickoff returns.
2 – Number of Giants RBs with 1,000 yards this season; Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward became only the fourth RB tandem in NFL history to each reach quadruple figures on the ground
12 – Number of victories for New York in 2008, the most since they also had a dozen in 2000
51 – Distance in yards of John Carney’s second quarter field goal, the longest of the season for New York’s Pro Bowl kicker