Giants easily handle Vikings again

MINNEAPOLIS -- The minute Daunte Culpepper arrived at the Metrodome, it was obvious his timing was off. It was about 90 minutes before kickoff -- or about 30 minutes Culpepper was running behind schedule -- when he walked from his car, through the press box and into the locker room.

For the next several hours, the Vikings played as though they hadn't turned back their clocks. The Giants drilled them 34-13, Minnesota appearing to be several steps behind New York the entire day.

Culpepper's third pass was a bubble screen to halfback Mewelde Moore, who was behind the line of scrimmage and let the ball bounce off his hands for what turned out to be a fumble that ended up costing the Vikings a field goal. The next two possessions were three-and-outs, something the potent offense rarely does. Vikings coach Mike Tice challenged and lost two replays in the first 12 minutes, leaving him without a challenge the rest of the day.

Randy Moss played only nine snaps in the first half and the only time he touched the ball was when he caught a fade pass in the end zone out of bounds. In the past two weeks, Moss has been on the field for only 11 plays and the Vikings have scored only 33 points.

"It seemed like nothing was rolling right for them, and then in the back of your mind, it affects you," Giants cornerback Will Allen said. "Randy really wasn't a factor for them. He's hurt. I guess you see, in the past two weeks without Moss, they don't have that threat, and people don't have to double him."

Sure, it was Halloween, but the Vikings' play against the Giants turns ghastly. Last year, the Giants ruined a 6-0 start by trouncing the Vikings 29-17 in the Metrodome. Afterward, owner Red McCombs told the team he was embarrassed, leaving Tice fuming and the team embarrassed. In 2000, the Giants whipped the Vikings 41-0 in the NFC championship game.

"I've just been given the only good news from today -- the Giants are not on our schedule next year, thank God," Tice said.

Historically, the Giants have matched up well against the Vikings.

"The reason we match up well is that they have big, aggressive linebackers," Giants running back Tiki Barber said. "We were able to get Jeremy Shockey placed outside to create mismatches. He's too fast for most linebackers and he's too big for safeties and cornerbacks to cover him. We do more misdirection runs and pulling of our linemen to get downhill on them. Their defenders are then forced to try to find me."

Barber was invisible to the defense all day. He ended up rushing for 101 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 24 carries, and Michael Cloud came off the bench to gain 55 yards on nine carries and score two touchdowns of his own. Kurt Warner was efficient running the offense and didn't surrender any turnovers despite being sacked five times. He only had 21 passing attempts.

Conversely, the Vikings had three turnovers, their receivers dropped passes and they were called for eight penalties.

"It was one of those days where we did some stuff good and a lot of stuff not so good," Tice said. "We seemed flat. I don't want to take anything away from the Giants because they played very, very well. We had turnovers, and we normally don't turn the football over."

The big concern now is Moss' health. When will he be able to play regularly? His hamstring injury was bad enough that he was in street clothes for the second half.

"We came into the game knowing that he wasn't going to be full tilt," Culpepper said. "We knew he was going to work in the red zone a little bit, and he did a little bit today. But hopefully, he can keep working. He's a guy who wants to be out there. He's a competitor. He's going to do whatever it takes to get back healthy."

Tice said Moss stiffened up as the game progressed and the staff didn't want to risk further injury. Trainer Chuck Barta felt it wise to shut down Moss after halftime.

"As Chuck said last week when he hurt it, it's going to be between two and four weeks before he's full speed," Tice said. "We've just got to figure out how we're doing to hold down the fort offensively. We didn't have any explosive passes last week against Tennessee. We did it all with the little dink and the little dunk and we found out two years ago that you can be No. 1 in the league in rushing but if you don't throw it down the field, you are not going to win any games because you can't score [enough] points. You have to score points in the passing game."

The only good news, as Tice said, is that the Vikings don't have to see the Giants again -- unless they meet in the playoffs.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.