That weird feeling of not being the worst quarterback and team out there on the field is certainly a revelation to the New York Giants and Eli Manning this season, who might not have anything left to play for but feeling good about themselves, and witnessing there are worse run organizations in the NFL.
Manning wasn’t very good, completing 23-of-39 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown pass, but for the first time this season he didn’t throw an interception, as the Giants beat the Vikings 23-7. There was nothing coming out of the running game, getting only 64 yards on 32 carries. Peyton Hillis with a touchdown and 36 yards (2 yards per carry) was the best they had to offer. The little bit of good we saw from the Giants came from their defense.
Josh Freeman had a terrible debut for the Minnesota Vikings, completing less than 40% of his passes while attempting 53 of them, getting sacked only once, but on nearly half his dropbacks got to feel the pressure from Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, who had three quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for a loss. Coming into the game, the Giants had pressured opposing quarterbacks on 19.5% of their dropbacks, the 3rd-lowest rate in the NFL, as Freeman was 4-of-19 for 26 yards and an interception while under duress.
The awful Freeman performance resulted in only 206 offensive yards for the Vikings, their lowest offensive output since Week 1 of 2011. The only points for Minnesota came from a punt return, the third the Giants have allowed this season.
Maybe the key was Eli Manning keeping it simply, and stopping those deep throws that have resulted in so many interceptions for him. He led the Giants on an opening drive that last 9 minutes and 36 seconds, resulting in three points by Josh Brown. It’s the longest drive any team has conjured this season in the NFL. Manning keeping his throwing distance at an average of 6.6 yards in the game, compared to 10.7 per throw before, was a huge factor in their first win of the season.
We needed to get one on the board. I told Jerry Reese that I think we have a shovel to start digging our way out of this hole. Hopefully, tonight is something we can build off. It’s still a long way to climb out of this hole. But this was something that we could get the ball rolling. The players and coaches have great pride in what we’re doing. We just had to keep going, get rid of some of the mistakes and play the way we need to play.
Even in the weak NFC East, with three teams under .500, it’s impossible to see the New York Giants making something out of this lost season. But after being called all kinds of awful over the first six weeks of the season, Eli Manning and his teammates showed there is a way for this team to win, even without a running game. It might mean playing against an other walking disaster, but at least this Giants team is just awful, and not something worse on a historic level.