8:30 PM ET, October 21, 2013
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With six losses on their résumé, the New York Giants could have been wondering whether they would ever win a game this season.
Instead, they searched within to see what they are made of.
"The players and coaches have great pride in what we're doing," Eli Manning said Monday night after the team's first victory, 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings. "We just had to keep going, get rid of some of the mistakes and play the way we need to play."
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• Stats & Info: Keys to not losing
They were efficient, if not overwhelming, which was all they needed to be against the mistake-prone Vikings (1-5).
The Giants began the season as a team turning over the ball (minus-16 difference) while showing little penchant for playing defense. But against the Vikings, they had three takeaways to one lost fumble.
Adrian Peterson, the league's MVP last season and a 2,000-yard rusher, was held to 28 yards five days after his 2-year-old son was buried in South Dakota. The man accused in the death was indicted on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, prosecutors said Monday.
"It was tough sledding. We couldn't get anything established up front," Peterson said.
"I was focused on preparing for the game; unfortunately, it didn't work out the way we wanted to. It was tough. The defense made it hard."
Peterson was not helped by a rusty Josh Freeman, making his debut as Vikings quarterback after being signed as a free agent after Tampa Bay cut the 2009 first-round draft pick. Freeman frequently missed open receivers, and several of his throws sailed yards beyond his targets.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he considered taking out Freeman but that the score was close enough for him to stick with his new QB.
"For us, we can't look too much past a win and a step in the right direction," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "We can't look beyond the next step."
Marcus Sherels provided Minnesota's points with an 86-yard punt return, but his fumble without being hit during a runback midway through the third quarter set up New York at the Vikings' 3.
Peyton Hillis, signed Wednesday with the Giants in dire need of running backs, surged in from the 1 for a 17-7 lead.
Freeman Can't Find Open Man
Josh Freeman overthrew 16 attempts Monday night, the most by any QB since the start of the 2006 season. Freeman has the highest percentage of overthrown passes in the NFL this season.
The lead grew on Brown's 23-yard field goal to finish off a 16-play, 75-yard drive, and to 23-7 on his 36-yarder. Another Vikings mistake handed those points to the Giants; rookie Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle of all things, fumbled at Minnesota's 18 while returning a short kickoff.
"We needed to get one on the board," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I told [general manager] Jerry Reese that I think we have a shovel to start digging our way out of this hole. Hopefully, tonight is something we can build off. It's still a long way to climb out of this hole. But this was something that we could get the ball rolling."
The Giants controlled the clock and the ball for most of the opening quarter, and led 3-0 when Sherels broke his spectacular punt return -- the third against the Giants this season. He sped down the left sideline virtually untouched, then twice faked out punter Steve Weatherford. By the time Weatherford reached Sherels, it was at the goal line -- where Weatherford brought him down with a horse-collar tackle.
Minnesota had a total of 8 yards on punt runbacks heading into Monday night. But Sherels set a team mark with 119.
Before Sherels' sprint, New York had gone 17 plays and used up the first 9:36, but the Giants bogged down at the 16 and Brown made a 35-yard field goal.
And one play after Minnesota hurt itself on rookie Xavier Rhodes' 23-yard pass interference penalty, Manning threw a laser to a leaping Randle in the left corner of the end zone for a 10-7 lead.
It was the first time New York led at halftime all season. The defense had held Peterson to 9 yards rushing on eight carries, and he didn't do much more in the second half.
SportsNation: Giants move to 1-6
The Giants finally claimed their first victory of 2013. How many will they win? Are playoffs even possible? Vote!
Manning, who led the league with 15 interceptions, didn't throw one for the first time all season. And while Freeman was picked only one time, by Antrel Rolle, he looked like someone who hadn't played in more than a month.
"A lot of the plays were just a hair off," Freeman said.
Freeman finished 20 of 53 for 190 yards. Manning was 23 of 39 for 200 yards.
Giants center David Baas, who missed the previous three games with a neck injury, returned but soon was sidelined by a knee problem. He'll have an MRI on Tuesday. ... Frazier said there would be MRIs for fullback Rhett Ellison on his left ankle and halfback Matt Asiata on his shoulder. ... The Giants had given up a league-high 209 points before shutting down Minnesota.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21: Punter Steve Weatherford #5 of the New York Giants tries to tackle cornerback...(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||3.0||3.5|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-1||1-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||0|
|FG||05:24||Josh Brown 35 Yd||0||3|
|TD||00:23||Marcus Sherels 86 Yd Punt Return (Blair Walsh Kick)||7||3|
|TD||09:33||Rueben Randle 24 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick)||7||10|
|TD||08:37||Peyton Hillis 1 Yd Run (Josh Brown Kick)||7||17|
|FG||12:13||Josh Brown 23 Yd||7||20|
|FG||11:03||Josh Brown 36 Yd||7||23|
After an NFL-high 17 turnovers in the Giants' first 6 games, Eli Manning did not commit a turnover Monday. Manning's average pass traveled a season-low 6.6 yards downfield. Coming into the game, Manning's average pass had traveled 10.7 yards downfield, 3rd-farthest among qualified quarterbacks.
The Giants sacked or put Josh Freeman under duress on 20 of his 54 dropbacks Monday (37.0%). Coming into the game, the Giants had pressured opposing quarterbacks on 19.5% of their dropbacks, the 3rd-lowest rate in the NFL. --Josh Freeman was 4-of-19 for 26 yards and an interception while under duress Monday. Freeman's 19 pass attempts while under duress were tied for the 2nd-most in a game in the last 4 seasons (Brandon Weeden - 21 vs. Dolphins in Week 1 of 2013).
From Elias: According to Elias, the Vikings have lost 5 straight games on Monday Night Football, which is the longest current streak in the NFL. The longest all-time losing streak on MNF is 10 by the Falcons from 1981-1999.
Josh Freeman overthrew his receivers on 16 pass attempts in his Vikings debut, the most overthrown passes by any quarterback in a game since the start of the 2006 season. Freeman has overthrown the highest percentage of passes in the NFL this season.[+]
The Vikings entered Monday's game averaging 338.4 total yards a game, but only finished with 206 vs. Giants. That's their lowest offensive output since Week 1 of 2011 (187 yards vs. Chargers).
With Peyton Hillis' 1-yd rush TD, the Giants now have 5 rushing TD this season and 3 of them have been 1-yd runs. Only the 49ers (5), Broncos (5), Colts (4) have more 1-yd rushing TD this season. Those 3 teams are the top 3 teams in total rushing TD this season (11 for 49ers, 10 for Broncos, 8 for Colts.)
Giants have allowed 3 punt return TD this season, their most in a season since 1959 when they allowed 4.
Rueben Randle has four touchdown catches in his last three games. He had three during the first 20 games of his career.
The Giants opening drive lasted 9:36 - that's the longest drive by time in the NFL this season. The previous high was 9:32 by the 49ers vs the Cardinals in Week 6.
ESPN Stats & Information