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Giants' weird trip ends with win over Vikes

Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants runs

Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants runs for a first down during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on in Detroit, Michigan. (Dec. 13, 2010) Credit: Getty

DETROIT - Two running backs rushed for more than 100 yards in the game, and one of them was not Adrian Peterson. That was about the only thing that went according to plan for the Giants this weekend.

A convoluted schedule filled with diverted flights, collapsing domes, rescheduled kickoffs and ultimately a move of the game from Minneapolis to Detroit was, it turned out, worth the wait. Although the Giants' restocked passing game never looked quite as sharp as it was before injuries started pecking away at it several weeks ago, the running attack and the defense were dominant enough to give the Giants a 21-3 victory over the Vikings Monday night at Ford Field.

"We'll take it," a road-weary Chris Canty said, shaking his head at the difficult excursion. "I feel like I've been on a camping trip."

There were times when the Giants looked like a team that had spent most of the last 40 hours waiting in airports and hanging out in hotel rooms, but even that haggard-looking effort was enough to beat the Vikings (5-8).

The Giants (9-4) remain tied with the Eagles for first place in the NFC East and will host them Sunday. That game could very well decide the division title. But Monday night, the Giants weren't looking ahead. They were reflecting on the wild journey.

"I was proud of the way the guys handled the inconvenience, if you will," Tom Coughlin said. "That's what we came here to do. Under any circumstance, leaving with a win is a huge plus for us."

The huge minus may be the injuries the Giants suffered in the win. Steve Smith, who returned from missing four weeks with a pectoral injury, left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury that had him wincing as he walked to the locker room. Mario Manningham was knocked out with a hip flexor injury in the first half. Their availability for the rematch against the Eagles is in serious question.

Even defensive end Justin Tuck suffered a rib contusion. "It hurts," Tuck said. "A lot. Tremendously." But he insisted he'll be ready Sunday.

Even with Smith and Hakeem Nicks back, Coughlin said he was worried about them picking up where they left off with Eli Manning. That turned out to be a valid concern. Manning threw for only 187 yards and was intercepted on two of the Giants' first three drives. Those were picks 10 and 11 in his five games against the Vikings.

"It's a good thing we did have the run," Coughlin said.

They certainly did. Brandon Jacobs ran for a season-high 116 yards - 73 on one dash down the left sideline - and a 1-yard touchdown, and Ahmad Bradshaw had 103 yards rushing, including a 48-yarder for a touchdown that was his longest run in two years. That against a defense that came in allowing 92 rushing yards per game, fourth best in the NFL.

"It's embarrassing," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "That's all I can say."

The Giants could say plenty more after holding Peterson to 26 yards on 14 carries. "He's an exceptional player," Osi Umenyiora said, "but we knew if we focused on gap responsibility, we could contain him, and we did that."

The Giants also knocked a sixth quarterback out of a game this season when they sent Tarvaris Jackson to the sideline several times. The Giants sacked the man who replaced Brett Favre four times.

Manning did show at least one glimpse of sharpness. It came on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss with three seconds left in the first half, when he threaded the ball through the arms of linebacker E.J. Henderson for a 14-3 lead.

Other than that, the Giants mostly relied on their running game to move the ball, score points and ultimately end this misadventure of a road trip.

"We handled this the best way possible," said tackle David Diehl, who returned after four weeks with a hamstring injury and was crucial in opening some big holes on the left side. "This is a story that we're going to be able to tell our friends and family for a long, long time.

"But the most important thing out of all that stuff - planes, trains, automobiles, Kansas City, Detroit - the most important thing was to come here and win the game."

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