- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
- 0 Shares
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If you live for special teams, Monday was your type of football.
The New York Giants' special teams unit turned kick and punt returns into can't-miss television. Big Blue forced two turnovers, but also gave up a punt return for a touchdown and lost a fumble in the Giants' 23-7 win over the Vikings on Monday night.
"That punt return was disappointing and frustrating, but that was the only seven points we gave up tonight," Giants punter Steve Weatherford said. "Obviously we didn't do what we wanted to do there. But we had [eight] more punts and I think we did a good job the rest of the way."
Despite dominating the first quarter, the Giants trailed after the first 15 minutes due to a special teams blunder. Leading 3-0, Weatherford punted the ball to Minnesota's Marcus Sherels, who found a lane down the left sidelined before cutting across the field. Weatherford gave a valiant effort, but Sherels made it to the end zone before Weatherford got him with a horse collar tackle that drew a flag.
"I tried to kind of play basketball with him and slow him down so people could catch up from behind," Weatherford said of the 86-yard touchdown. "It's disappointing, but we got the win."
Rueben Randle later fumbled away a punt return in the third quarter, but the Vikings did not capitalize as Josh Freeman threw an interception deep in Giants territory. The special teams unit made up for its mistakes later when it forced a fumble on a punt, setting up a one-yard Peyton Hillis touchdown in the third quarter that put the Giants up 17-7, and recovered a fumble on a kickoff in the fourth quarter.
"I think that was the game-changer right there," Weatherford said of the forced fumble on the punt.
TRIO FOR RANDLE: The end zone is becoming a frequent hangout spot for Randle.
The second-year receiver scored a touchdown for the third straight game as he hauled in a 24-yard pass to give the Giants a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. He caught three passes for 40 yards in the win.
"I just want to make plays," Randle said. "It's nothing special. I just want to go out there and compete and perform at the best of my abilities and that's what I'm trying to do."
Randle's touchdown was perhaps the highlight of the night as he managed to go over the top and snag the ball from Minnesota's Chris Cook. Quarterback Eli Manning perhaps under threw his receiver, but Randle bailed out his quarterback and made an acrobatic play.
"I knew he had to go over the defender to make the catch. I know that's something he can do," Manning said. "He can go up and make plays and sometimes that's what you need from your receivers -- to go up and make a play for you at times. That was a big touchdown right there."
19hEric D. Williams
18hEric D. Williams