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Gameday Live 13: Giants "at" Vikings

Good evening Giants enthusiasts! Welcome to a rare second Monday night affair to cap Week 14 in the NFL!

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Giants (8-4, 3-2 road) take on Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings (5-7, 4-2 home) at Ford Field in Detroit.

Why the Motor City? Well, if you haven't heard by now, the Metrodome sprung a leak. Pretty surreal looking, eh?

The Giants left New Jersey on Saturday bound for Minnesota, but they never reached the Twin Cities (which were blanketed with 17 inches of snow). They spent Saturday night in Kansas City and held out hope the game could be played in Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

Once it was clear that wasn't possible, arrangements were made for Detroit to host the game tonight and the team flew in yesterday afternoon.

"This one has probably presented more challenges than I can ever remember," Giants president and CEO John Mara said of the excursion.

If he thinks his Giants had a crazy travel weekend, check out what our own Neil Best had to endure to make it to Detroit.

So here we are, in Detroit. (Actually, I'm not there. I'm home on Long Island, but whatever.) 

Tickets to tonight's game were being distributed for free, but that ended as of about 11 a.m. this morning. They apparently were "sold out" within the first 90 minutes.

So what's left to talk about? Just football...

The Giants, winners of two straight, enter tonight's game a half-game behind the Eagles (30-27 winners in Dallas last night) for first place in the NFC East (Philly holds the tiebreaker based on a head-to-head win).

The Vikings, who played in the NFC Championship Game last season, are in third place in the NFC North — 3 1/2 games behind the Bears. They have won two straight, including a 38-14 win over the Bills at home last week.

If the postseason started today, the Giants would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC, while Minnesota would be on the outside looking in.

So what is the No. 1 thing we're looking out for tonight? What else?

Whether or not the old gunslinger himself, Brett Favre, will keep his streak of 297 straight regular-season starts alive. 

*UPDATE*: According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Favre's streak is over. The longest streak of any position player in NFL history began Sept. 27, 1992. Favre told Werder the sprained joint had produced a knot the size of a golf ball between his neck and collarbone, and that he's experienced numbness in his right hand all week.

Former Giants punter Jeff Feagles is the only NFL player to appear in more than 300 consecutive games (352), and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, 237 other QBs have started an NFL game since Favre's streak began. Incidentally, tonight will be Eli Manning's 100th career start. Brother Peyton now holds the longest streak in the NFL at 205 games.

Favre said that if the game was played yesterday there was little chance he'd be able to play. Earlier today, the 41-year-old texted this to USA Today about whether he'll play tonight: "I doubt it, but it does buy a little time."

Vikings interim head coach Leslie Frazier texted ESPN's Adam Schefter this about Favre's status: "Doubtful but sometimes you never know with him."

Truer words have never been spoken.

Officially, Favre, who was able to practice on Friday, is listed as questionable due to the sprain in his sternoclavicular joint (which connects the sternum, or breastbone, to the clavicle, or collarbone).

It's possible the Giants are secretly hoping Favre will play based on their propensity to knock quarterback's out of the game and his propensity for turning the ball over. 

Favre is tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions. His only pass in last week's 38-14 win over Buffalo was intercepted. He has only two multi-touchdown games, and he's thrown for over 300 yards just once this year. His 69.6 passer rating is a career low, and he's only thrown 10 TD passes.

Even still, Minnesota remains in the playoff hunt, having won two straight since Frazier took over. In last week's game, backup QB Tarvaris Jackson was 15-of-22 for 187 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

One thing that Jackson brings to the table that Favre doesn't is his ability to scramble. 

Keeping him contained in the pocket is one of the keys to the Giants' success, or lack thereof, this evening. Here are three more keys to the game, and if you don't like them, there's always this stuff.

1. Good to get out of Minny? The Giants have struggled mightily at the Metrodome in recent years, led by quarterback Eli Manning. Manning is 0-4 against the Vikings, including two straight losses in Minneapolis, with two touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He threw a career-high four picks against them twice — in 2005 and 2007.

The Vikings are the only NFL team he's faced twice without earning a victory. Last year, the Giants were embarrassed by Minnesota 44-7 in Week 17, to end a late-season collapse.

Said guard David Diehl earlier this week: "The only thing I know is that we've used last season and that game as motivation to give ourselves the best opportunity this season," Diehl said. "I don't think anybody has forgotten what happened there."

But they won't be playing "there," as in the Metrodome. The Giants are 1-0 at Ford Field — a 16-10 win over the Lions in Week 11 of the 2007 season — so we'll see how Manning fares against his nemesis at a neutral field.

The Giants' last win over Minnesota was Halloween 2004.

*Eli again struggled against the Vikings, throwing two first-half interceptions. But he also threw a touchdown pass to Boss and completed 59 percent of his passes. He was held to under 200 passing yards for the second straight game, but eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark for the season. Most importantly, he improved to 1-4 against Minnesota. He and the Giants are also 2-0 at Ford Field.

2. The Giants brought some key weapons along for the (long) ride. Hakeem Nicks (leg) and Steve Smith (partially torn pectoral), the Giants' top two receivers based on receptions, are listed as questionable, but will play tonight, giving Manning back his favorite targets.

Nicks missed the last two games, but still has 800 receiving yards and nine TDs (tied for fifth in the league). He has four 100-yard receiving games this season.

Smith missed the last four games. He caught at least four passes in the nine games he played, and had all three of his touchdowns in a four-game span from Weeks 5-9.

We'll see how the two receivers are in their return from injury tonight.

*Nicks had a nice return to the lineup, leading the team with seven catches for 96 yards, including a 30-yarder that was the Giants' longest pass play of the night. Smith caught only one ball, a 12-yard reception in the fourth quarter. They'll be key to the Giants' success down the stretch, especially with the running game clicking as well as it has been lately.

3. Running around in circles? The Vikings have allowed an NFC-low 1,104 rushing yards, and 3.6 yards per carry (third lowest in the NFL). The Giants' bread-and-butter is their potent rushing attack. Brandon Jacobs is averaging 8.6 yards per carry since being named the starter two weeks ago. In last week's 31-7 win over Washington, he rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries.

He said the smaller workload was in an effort to get Ahmad Bradshaw to 1,000 yards on the season. Bradshaw, who had 97 yards and two scores on 25 carries, is the 10th running back in the NFL to reach that mark this season.

Said Jacobs, who has 577 rushing yards on 100 carries this year: "I am excited about playing, period. I am excited about catching the ball, pass blocking, but I am most excited about running, as a running back is supposed to. I feel really good. I am healthy. I am at the point where this is my sixth year and I just want to win." 

Manning, who hasn't been sacked in five weeks, threw for less than 200 yards for the fifth time this season in the win over Washington. It was the first time in eight games he didn't throw at least two TD passes, so he's certainly been helped by the rushing game. We'll see if that holds true tonight against this stout rush D.

*Big night for both Jacobs and Bradshaw as each rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. The lumbering Jacobs had a career high run of 73 yards, while Bradshaw had a 48-yard scamper.

Here are tonight's inactives, courtesy of Mr. Tom Rock, who is live in Detroit. 

For the Vikings, Percy Harvin (migraines) is out, as is guard Steve Hutchinson. The Vikings' inactives have 19 Pro Bowls among them.

Just for giggles, here is the weather report from outside Ford Field, where it's 10 degrees and feels like -8. Some light snow is falling, but, fear not, the roof there is strong.

Finally, here are a few notes on tonight's game:

-The Vikings, who finished last season 13-5 (including playoffs), were 9-0 at home (they lost their home opener to Miami this season). They are 2-0 against NFC East opponents this year — they beat Dallas 24-21 at home Week 6 and earned a 17-13 win in Washington two weeks  ago.

-The Giants enter the day fifth in the NFC in points scored with 308 (behind, in order, Philly, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Dallas ... Green Bay is two points behind at 306). The Giants have allowed 247, which is also fifth best in the conference (behind Green Bay, Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta).

-The Vikings have scored 227 points this season (second-to-last in the conference, ahead of only Carolina) and allowed 253 (sixth best in the conference).

-The Vikings are the worst team in the NFL in turnover margin at -11 (29 giveaways, 18 takeaways). The Giants are tied for the league lead with Philly and Pittsburgh at 30 takeaways (13 INTs, 17 fumbles), but are -1 in turnover margin.

-Jackson has completed 67.9 percent of his 28 passes this season for 223 yards. The 27-year old, a five-year veteran out of Alabama State, is averaging 8.0 yards per attempt. The Montgomery, Ala., native has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions, and he has a 67.9 passer rating.

-The Vikings are going for their first three-game winning streak of the season. Last year, they had a six-game winning streak and another four-game streak.

-Including tonight, the Giants play three of their next four games on the road. After hosting Philly next week, they travel to Green Bay and Washington. Think snow may be a problem in Wisconsin in two weeks? Yeesh. Also, the way it looks now, the Giants will also be on the road the first week of the playoffs, but that, of course, is subject to change.

Okay, that's all for now. But we've got plenty more to talk about today, so keep it locked here throughout the afternoon!

I'll be back after each quarter with updates.

We're about 15 minutes from football on FOX!

*The Giants have lost the toss and will kickoff.

 

End of the 1st Quarter: Vikings 3, Giants 0

Vikings' first scoring drive: 10 plays, 31 yards, 4:35

Scoring play: Ryan Longwell 21-yard FG ... it was his 14th made field goal in 15 attempts.

Key play: Manning interception (more below), and also Jackson's 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 25. The longest play of the drive was nine yards.

Players who impressed for the Giants:

-Jonathan Goff dropped Peterson in the backfield on his first carry for a loss of a yard.

-The crowd was actually chanting "De-fense! De-fense!" to back the Giants' D on the Vikings' third-and-10 on their first drive.

-Antrel Rolle stopped Peterson on a third-and-1 from the Giants' 25 to bring up fourth down. Jackson's QB sneak on the next play picked up the first down, however.

-On a second-and-7 for the Vikings on the Giants' 46, Jackson and Peterson's right knees collided on a handoff and Chris Canty made the play in the backfield for a loss of four yards. Both Vikings players were looked at, and came out for the third-down play. Joe Webb replaced Jackson, and heaved a pass deep down the left sideline that Rice couldn't hold on to.

-Bradshaw had a slick cut back on his first run of the game for a gain of 18 yards to start the Giants' third drive.

-The Giants bottled up Peterson for only eight yards on his first eight carries.

Players who struggled:

-Terrell Thomas allowed Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian to catch eight-yard passes in front of him on curl routes on the first drive. He did tackle them before they could get any YAC yards.

-An illegal formation penalty wiped out a 17-yard gain by Jacobs on second-and-4 from his own 20.

-On his second pass of the night, Manning threw his 18th interception of the year trying to hit Nicks down the right side. The pick was made by former Giant Frank Walker and returned to the Giants' 34. It was his 10th career INT in five games against Minnesota. 

-Manning's first pass of the Giants' second drive was batted down by Kevin Williams.

-Kevin Boss dropped a tight-end screen, but he probably wasn't going to get much on the play anyway. But on the next play, he dropped a pass that would have converted a third down.

-Matt Dodge's first punt went 41 yards, but, as has been his problem all season, it was a line drive that Greg Camarillo was able to return 14 yards. So the punt netted just 27 yards. 

-Jackson completed six of his first eight passes for 52 yards.

What to watch for in the second quarter: Can the Giants limit their mistakes?

  

End of the 2nd Quarter: Giants 14, Vikings 3

Giants' first scoring drive: 6 plays (all runs), 89 yards, 3:45

Scoring play: Jacobs 1-yard run (Lawrence Tynes kick) ... it was his eighth TD of the season.

Key play: Jacobs 73-yard run on second-and-8 from his own 13 (more below).

Giants' second scoring drive: 9 plays (all passes), 71 yards, 1:40

Scoring play: Boss 6-yard pass from Manning (Tynes kick) ... it was Boss' fourth TD catch and Manning's 24th TD throw.

Key play: Boss 8-yard pass from Manning on third-and-6 from the Vikings' 20; Nicks 22-yard catch from Manning on first-and-10 from their own 46.

Players who impressed for the Giants:

-Rocky Bernard sacked Jackson for a loss of a yard to bring up a third-and-8. It was the defensive tackle's first sack of the season.

-Jacobs busted a carry off left end for 73 yards on second-and-8 from his own 13. Bear Pascoe appeared to hold Jared Allen on the play, but there was no flag and it went as only a nice seal block. The run was Jacobs' career long by nearly 30 yards (he had a 44-yard run in 2008).

-Bradshaw took the very next carry up the middle for a gain of 11. He leaped over a tackler and delivered a blow at the end of the run to give the Giants first-and-goal from the 3. Two plays later, Bradshaw nearly had a touchdown, but was ruled down at the 1. Tom Coughlin challenged that it was a touchdown, but the ruling on the field stood. Jacobs scored on the next play.

-Barry Cofield sacked Jackson for a loss of nine yards on third-and-7 from the Vikings' 34.

-Rookie Jason Pierre-Paul was credited with his fifth sack of the season when Jackson dropped a shotgun snap and fell on it for a loss of 15 yards.

-Manning completed 7 of his 9 passes on the scoring drive for 55 yards and a touchdown. One of the incompletions was a spike to stop the clock. The Giants also got 15 yards on Allen's 15-yard personal foul and a yard on an offsides call near the goal line.

Players who struggled:

-Manning threw his second interception of the night on the second play of the quarter, as Asher Allen stepped in front of a pass intended for Mario Manningham and returned it to his own 41. The coaches didn't even let him attempt a pass on the scoring drive.

-Travis Beckum was flagged five yards for a neutral-zone infraction. The Vikings still had to punt, but it made a fourth-and-16 a fourth-and-11.

-Chris Snee was flagged for a false start to bring up a second-and-16. 

-Kevin Boothe, my classmate at Cornell, was flagged five yards for a false start to bring up a second-and-goal from the 6. The Giants scored on the next play.

What to watch for in the second half: Can the Giants keep the running game rolling? They have 103 rushing yards on only 10 carries.

*Manningham has a hip flexor strain and his return is questionable. He's been replaced by Derek Hagan

**Clint Sintim was injured covering a kick and was taken to the locker room to be looked at. 

 

Here are some halftime stats for your viewing pleasure...

Giants

Manning: 12-of-21 for 98 yards, TD, two INTs

Jacobs: 5 carries, 83 yards, TD

Bradshaw: 5 carries, 30 yards; 3 catches, 7 yards

Nicks: 3 catches, 57 yards

Boss: 4 catches, 23 yards, TD

Hagan: 1 catch, 10 yards

Manningham: 1 catch, 1 yard

Tynes: 2-for-2 on XPs

Bernard/Cofield: sack each

Thomas: 7 tackles

*Steve Smith does not have a catch tonight.

Vikings

Jackson: 10-of-13 for 77 yards; 3 carries, 8 yards

Webb: 0-for-1

Peterson: 10 carries, 16 yards

Toby Gerhart: 1 carry, 3 yards

Rice: 4 catches, 38 yards

Berrian: 3 catches, 24 yards

Lorenzo Booker: 1 catch, 6 yards

Jim Kleinsasser: 1 catch 6 yards

Camarillo: 1 catch, 3 yards

Longwell: 1-for-1 on FGs

Allen/Walker: INT each

 

End of the 3rd Quarter: Giants 21, Vikings 3

Giants' third scoring drive: 3 plays, 59 yards, 1:00

Scoring play: Bradshaw 48-yard run (Tynes kick) ... it was his eighth rushing TD of the season and longest rush of the year.

Key play: The TD run. Boothe and Will Beatty opened a nice hole on the left side and Bradshaw burst through it for the score.

Players who impressed for the Giants:

-Bradshaw converted a third-and-2 from his own 28 with a four-yard catch from Manning.

-Keith Bulluck intercepted a Jackson pass on second-and-10 from the Giants' 36. He returned it one yard to his own 33. Jackson threw the ball right to Bulluck in the left flat. It was the linebacker's first INT with the Giants and 20th of his 11-year career.

-Deon Grant made a strong stop on a short pass to Berrian for a loss of a yard.

-The Giants' defense has held Minnesota to just five first downs tonight.

-An interesting play occurred on a punt return, as Camarillo called for a fair catch and then bobbled the ball. As he was trying to regain control, Devin Thomas stripped the ball away and the Giants recovered it. However, that is now a penalty. Defenders must give the returner an opportunity to make the catch, even if it's bobbled, as long as the ball doesn't hit the ground. Personal foul penalties were called on each team, forcing the Giants to re-punt. Dodge had his best effort of the night, punting it out of bounds at the Vikings' 8.

-Dave Tollefson and Goff combined for a sack of Jackson, and then Osi Umenyiora andJustin Tuck combined for another later in the drive. Tuck was shaken up on the play, but walked off on his own power.

Players who struggled:

-Manning overthrew a wide-open Nicks on a deep pass down the left side on first-and-10 from his own 32.

-The punt coverage team allowed Camarillo to shake-and-bake his way to a 52-yard return, giving the Vikings a first-and-10 on the Giants' 36.

-Jacobs was stopped in the backfield for a loss of three yards on a first-and-10 on the Vikings' 42.

-Jared Allen blew past Diehl around the offensive left tackle to sack Manning for a loss of five yards to bring up a fourth down. Eli hadn't been sacked in the last five games.

-After Bradshaw's TD, Booker returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. ButJasper Brinkley's block in the back negated the play.

-The Giants bench was flagged 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct because Coughlin came out on the field. The penalty was declined because it came after Jackson hit Rice for a gain of 22 yards on third-and-15 from their own 38.

What to watch for in the fourth half: Can the Giants get to nine wins for the third time in the last four years?

 

That's the end of game, as the Giants defeat the Vikings, 21-3, for their third straight win.

Giants: 9-4 (4-2 road)
Vikings: 5-8 (4-3 "home")

Scores by quarter for the Giants: 0, 14, 7, 0
Scores by quarter for the Vikings: 3, 0, 0, 0

*Smith caught his first pass of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter, a 12-yard gain. 

**For the Vikings, Webb replaced Jackson on the Vikings' first drive of the fourth quarter. Jackson came to the sideline hobbling after being sacked by Osi/Tuck in the third quarter. He later returned, and finished out the game.

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:

1. Jacobs: 14 carries, 116 yards (including a career-long 73-yarder), TD ... it was his second straight 100-yard game, and the first time he and Bradshaw have done it in the same game this season.

2. Bradshaw: 11 carries, 103 yards, TD; 5 catches, 12 yards ... it was his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He had his left wrist wrapped on the sideline midway through the fourth quarter, ending his night. 

3. Boss: 4 catches, 23 yards, TD.

Also, the Giants defense had four sacks of Jackson, two in each half.

*The Giants had a 32:42-27:15 advantage in time of possession, and a 395-164 advantage in total yards.

Here are tonight's final stats...

Giants

Manning: 22-of-37 for 187 yards, TD, two INTs

Danny Ware: 3 carries, -6 yards; 1 catch, 12 yards

Nicks: 7 catches, 96 yards

Boss: 4 catches, 23 yards, TD

Bear Pascoe: 2 catches, 21 yards

Smith: 1 catch, 12 yards

Hagan: 1 catch, 10 yards

Manningham: 1 catch, 1 yard

Tynes: 3-for-3 on XPs

Bulluck: INT

Cofield/Umenyiora: sack each

Goff/Tollefson: 1/2 sack each

Vikings

Jackson: 15-of-30 for 118 yards, INT; 4 carries, 8 yards

Webb: 2-for-5 for 8 yards; 1 carry, 16 yards

Peterson: 14 carries, 26 yards

Gerhart 3 carries, 11 yards; 1 catch, 1 yard

Rice: 5 catches, 60 yards

Berrian: 5 catches, 30 yards

Greg Lewis: 2 catches, 13 yards

Visanthe Shiancoe: 1 catch, 7 yards

Booker: 1 catch, 6 yards

Kleinsasser: 1 catch 6 yards

Camarillo: 1 catch, 3 yards

Longwell: 1-for-1 on FGs

A. Allen/Walker: INT each ... Allen also made 10 tackles.

J. Allen: sack

 

*The attendance at Ford Field tonight was 45,910.

Okay, that's all for tonight's game. Please check back above for updates on my pregame keys to the game. Thanks to all for coming out!

As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of today's live game action.

See ya'll back here in just six days, as the Giants play host to the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. Have a great week everyone!  

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