The Vikings were given many gifts by the New York Giants at the Meadowlands yeterday. And Eli Manning was Santa Claus without the red suit or white beard as he threw four interceptions, and three were returned for TDs as the Vikings won easily, and shockingly, 41-17.
With big brother Peyton watching from the stands, Eli threw interceptions that were returned by Darren Sharper (pictured), Dwight Smith and Chad Greenway for scores. The Vikings became the first NFL team to return three picks for TDs since 1984.
The game got off to a great start for the Vikings when Tarvaris Jackson threw a 60-yard TD to Sidney Rice on the second play from scrimmage. The Giants answered it right back with a nice drive that culminated in a touchdown as Reuben Droughns ran in from one yard.
The Vikings took the lead on Sharper's interception return, and added scores in the second quarter on Chester Taylor's 8-yard run and Ryan Longwell's 26-yard field goal.
The Vikings iced the game in the third with a long 14-play drive that ended with another Longwell FG, but drive took up nearly 9 1/2 minutes of the period. As the fourth quarter started, Manning threw back-to-back TD interceptions that drew out the boo-birds in full force (those who were still there). Manning was a big part the Giants lost, but the offense was out of sync for the entire game after that first TD drive, committing dumb penalties and dropping passes. The Giants sure didn't look like a 7-3 team bidding for a playoff spot yesterday.
Tarvaris Jackson did a nice job leading the team to the win. Nothing special in his passing stats (10-for-12 for 129 yards), but he showed some nice scrambling ability and converted a number of third down plays. Chester Taylor ran for 77 yards, as Adrian Peterson sat out a second straight game (the Vikes are 2-0 without him), but the defense was the star for the Vikings yesterday. The secondary sure didn't look like the 32nd ranked pass defense in the NFL.
And all of a sudden, the Vikings are very much alive for a playoff berth. Next Sunday is a huge matchup, with the 6-5 Detroit Lions at the Metrodome. A win over them could put the Vikings squarely in the Wild Card race, and they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way after that.
Who would have thought it two weeks ago.