By Curt Macysyn
It was the worst of all worlds for the New York Football Giants (6-9), as the team had to play in the freezing cold of Minneapolis, against a motivated opponent, and without their best player. In a Sunday Night Football contest where surely NBC wished they had a mulligan, the Minnesota Vikings (10-5) showed a nationwide audience how far Big Blue has fallen with a 49-17 drubbing of New York. With the win, the Vikings clinched a berth in the NFL playoffs, and Minnesota can win the division with a victory over the Green Bay Packers next week.
If John Mara and Jerry Reese want to jump start the Giants franchise, they may want to contact Ziggy Wilf and Rick Spielman and borrow the Vikings blue print. The Vikings roster is littered with successful home grown players like Teddy Bridgewater, Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, T.J. Cummings and Eric Kendricks from the past two drafts alone. For their part, Minnesota keeps climbing up the charts, and they now are challenging the Green Bay Packers for supremacy of the NFC North. Meanwhile, the Giants are once again on the outside looking in, as the NFL playoffs begin next month.
Clearly, Giants quarterback Eli Manning missed Odell Beckham, as the trust that Manning places in Rueben Randle is misguided. Randle ran another sloppy route, and as a result, Manning was credited with a pick six by Minnesota safety Harrison Smith. Later, with the Giants down 32-3, Randle caught a 72-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to freshen his own stat line. Rashad Jennings had 74 yards on 14 carries (5.3 yards per carry), and he also caught a 50-yard screen pass.
Andre Williams had three carries for five yards, as the Giants continue to waste touches on the ineffective back. Dwayne Harris, Will Tye and Shane Vereen were mostly missing in action this week, as the offensive line continued to bumble along in pass protection.
The defense gave up 222 yards on the ground, including 104 yards to Adrian Peterson (4.7 yards per carry). Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 60 percent of his passes (15 for 25) with a touchdown. Running back Jerick McKinnon outsmarted the G-men on his 68-yard touchdown run in garbage time to run up the score for the Vikings. Thankfully, the Giants only gave up 368 total yards this week, which is actually lower than their average (419.3 yards per game).
Special Teams: D
With temperatures hovering around 13 degrees, Brad Wing was punting a brick all evening. Wing punted six times with a 40.2 yard per punt average, which was lower than his normal net average. Shane Vereen returned seven kickoffs to a mere 20.3 yard average. Dwayne Harris looks worn down, and he had two punt returns for just 12 yards. The Giants tried an onsides kick after their first touchdown, and it was promptly returned by Robert Blanton 27 yards, which pretty much summed up this game and this season for the G-men.
The coaching staff would have to pull a rabbit out of its hat to pull a win in Minnesota, and it could not. The Giants are beginning to become the punching bag for the league, as linebacker J.T. Thomas was ejected early in the fourth quarter for fighting. The team is obviously operating under a zero tolerance policy from the NFL, and the coaches should do more to sit players down who cross the line. Why was Manning still playing with the score 42-10?
Wide receiver Ben Edwards and tight end Matt LaCosse both made their NFL debuts, as they were elevated from the practice squad this week. LaCosse caught three passes, while Edwards had a catch. Quarterback Ryan Nassib saw his first action of the season for the Giants, and he went 5 – 5 for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.