Let me start off by saying I am delighted that the New York Giants picked up their first win of the 2013 season with a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. For a moment, I feared that the Giants weren’t going to be able to beat anybody. Hopefully the victory can give the team some momentum for the upcoming game against the Philadelphia Eagles in order to pull off that elusive second win. However, while there were some positive moments, the victory over the Vikings did very little to convince me that the Giants are close to getting back to their old ways.
The first reason I was not convinced by what I saw on Monday night is because of the poor play by the Vikings. If anything, their atrocious effort on offense proved that the Giants are not the worst team in the NFL. In other words, the Giants managed to pull off a victory over a team that might not win a game for the rest of the season. With Josh Freeman as their starting quarterback, the Vikings couldn’t score an offensive touchdown. They had to rely on a punt return to get their first and only touchdown of the evening. That being said, the Giants didn’t exactly dominate in the game.
Even with Eli Manning not throwing an interception, the offense continued to struggle. Manning had an average night, completing 23-of-39 attempts for 200 yards and one touchdown. They were mediocre on third downs, with the team going 7-for-19 on third-down conversions. Finally, they went 1-for-4 in the red zone, with the one score coming off a field goal. In contrast, Manning’s only touchdown came from just outside the red zone on the 24-yard line to a diving Rueben Randle.
However, there was one improvement to the offense and that was to the running game. As mentioned in a previous article, the Giants needed to start giving others a chance at the running back position. In the game against the Vikings, they unleashed Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox. Hillis had 18 carries for 36 yards and Cox finished with 11 carries for 23 yards. The play of Hillis was particularly eye catching, who was not only responsible for converting a handful of Giants third downs, but gave Manning extra time in the pocket with physical blocking.
The other bright spot in this game was the pass coverage. Regardless of how bad Freeman was versus the Giants, the secondary played so well that an above-average quarterback would’ve had trouble. Freeman finished with 20 completions off 53 attempts for 190 yards and no touchdowns. He also had a quarterback rating of 41. One of the cornerbacks that had his best game of the season was Antrel Rolle. Not only did he have the only interception in the game, but also didn’t give an inch of space to the star Vikings receivers.