The Minnesota Vikings defeated the New York Giants 49-17 on Sunday night to clinch their first playoff berth in three years.
Going into yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings needed one of three things to happen to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
- An Atlanta loss to undefeated Carolina
- A St. Louis loss to 11-point favorite Seattle
- A victory over the Giants.
Shockingly, neither of the first two things happened yesterday, so the Vikings would have to earn a playoff spot themselves, and they’d have to do it on national television.
Just the way head coach Mike Zimmer wanted it.
Minnesota, not phased by the frigid temperatures that dipped well below 20 degrees, dominated New York in all three phases of the game en route to the blowout victory. As a result, we got to see Tom Coughlin’s all-in-one confused/angry/stunned face frozen red like a cherry more than a few times during the Sunday Night broadcast.
Adrian Peterson reclaimed his lead for the NFL rushing title by collecting 104 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. He has now amassed 1,418 rushing yards on the season, leading Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin by 64 yards heading into the final week of the season for the rushing crown.
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Minnesota’s recent success in the passing game continued last night as well. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t light up the stat sheet by any means, but he was effective in moving the ball down the field. He finished with 15 completions on 25 attempts for 168 yards and a touchdown while only throwing the ball really in two and a half quarters. His touchdown pass was a beautiful toss on a seem route to Kyle Rudolph for 28 yards, fitting the ball in between the linebacker trailing Rudolph and the safety, who was a bit late to help over the top.
Defensively, the Vikings were lights out. Besides one long screen pass to running back Rashad Jennings and a bunch of garbage time yards, Minnesota really didn’t allow New York to move the ball at all yesterday.
The defensive line put relentless pressure on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, sacking him four times and forcing a number of errant throws. Tom Johnson notched two sacks, while Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison each recorded a sack each. Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Smith and Captain Munnerlyn each intercepted a pass from Manning, and Smith returned his for a touchdown. It was Smith’s fourth pick six, which is a Vikings franchise record. (But no, Smith isn’t a Pro Bowl safety. No way.)
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Jerick McKinnon gained 89 yards rushing on seven carries, including a 68-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter with the game already well at hand. Overall, Minnesota rushed for 218 yards on the depleted New York defense.
The “Giant” victory sets up a battle with Green Bay for the NFC North division title next week at Lambeau on Sunday Night Football. With the Packers struggling recently and the Vikings seemingly playing their best football of the season, it’s easy to feel good about that game.
- Minnesota’s defensive line was all over Eli Manning’s snap count last night. They constantly got good jumps off the snap, and it really helped in putting the pressure on Manning that resulted in four sacks and three interceptions.
- Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has received a lot of heat this season, but he has been outstanding the past few weeks. He’s no longer as predictable as a fat guy at a buffet. Instead, he has found the balance between establishing the run while still making the passing game a threat.
- Man, it was fun to watch Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Smith all back on the field for the Vikings defense. Each had missed the previous two games, and their presence was easily felt against the Giants. When totally healthy, this defense is incredible scary.
- This is just an observation from watching the game at home, but the crowd was really fired up. The sub-20 degree temperatures didn’t effect the fans, that’s for sure. In fact, it may have energized them even more. A buddy of mine sent a text message to me that said, “This place is so loud holy crudmuffins.”
Next Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings will again play in front of a national television audience on Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North division title.
As always, continue to check with Sporting Sota throughout the week for news and analysis on the Minnesota Vikings.