The Giants had nothing to play for in this game, played most of the second half with backups, and still almost pulled out a win against the desperate Vikings (though with Chicago’s loss it turned out the Vikes weren’t desperate after all,but they didn’t know that until they won).
The Giants lost on a last-second field goal, 20-19, with Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Boss, Barry Cofield, and Aaron Ross taking the day off to get an extra week of rest.
None of the starters suffered a serious injury. That’s the most important thing that can come out of this game.
You never want to go into the playoffs on cruise control, but last week’s battle with Carolina was the last big test and the game that got them on the right track for the postseason. The Giants won’t even remember this game in Minnesota.
Eli Manning only played the first half and came out alive. He was 11-19 and threw for 119 yards, with no picks or TD’s. He finished the season with 21 touchdown passes, 3,119 yards, a 60.4 percent completion percentage, with only 10 interceptions, which is way down from last year’s 20.
He also warmed up for the playoffs by leading a last-minute drive in the first half that cut the score to 10-9. That’s his specialty, so he might as well have gotten one last chance to do what he does best.
David Carr relieved him in the second half and played well. He threw a touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon, and finished 8-11, with 110 yards. He only got sacked once—that’s like a day at the beach after all those years and sacks in Houston.
The one individual stat on everybody’s radar was getting Derrick Ward 1,000 yards rushing for the season. With Jacobs on the sidelines, Ward made it with ease. He ran for 77 yards on 15 carries, and finished the year with 1,025 yards. Jacobs ended with 1,089, so the Giants became just the fourth team in NFL history to have two running backs gain 1,000 yards in the same season.
The 1972 Dolphins (Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris), 1976 Steelers (Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier) and 1985 Browns (Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack) all accomplished the feat. The Giants rushed for 135 yards against Minnesota’s league-leading rush defense.
Hixon had a good game, with four receptions for 62 yards and a TD. Nine players in all caught passes for the Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw had a 58-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, which led to a field goal. James Butler intercepted a pass in the end zone. John Carney got a lot of practice for the playoffs, kicking four field goals, including a season-long 51-yarder.
The one major injury to come out of the game was a broken ankle by Sam Madison. Kareem McKenzie left with back spasms.
All the other starters that didn’t finish the game came out for precautionary reasons (or to catch the House marathon on USA—they’re showing the episode where a patient comes down with a rare disease that isn’t diagnosed until the end of the show and House is mean and sarcastic to everyone).
The offense only scored one touchdown and had to settle for field goals all game. Carney missed his last attempt (and in a dome no less). It was only his third miss of the season. Terrell Thomas fell down on Minnesota’s last touchdown. And the D let up another long touchdown run.
This was a meaningless tuneup, with nothing ugly happening. The Giants finished first in the conference so there’s nothing to complain about at all. Tampa Bay losing to Oakland was ugly. That ensured that the winner of the Dallas-Philly game gets into the playoffs. We’ll go with that.
The Giants get a well-earned week off to heal their assorted injuries and get ready for the playoffs. Before the season, I predicted a 10-6 record and a wild card berth. I was wrong. But it’s a good kind of wrong.