The Giants already knew their postseason fate by the time they laced it up to face the Minnesota Vikings – and they certainly played like it in a listless 49-17 loss.
When the Philadelphia Eagles lost at home to the Washington Redskins, Saturday night, it clinched the NFC East for the latter and made next week’s tilt at MetLife Stadium with the former irrelevant.
New York (6-9) only had pride to play for in Minnesota and showed just how much they had left, as they were never in the contest and let the Vikings (10-5) pillage them from the opening kickoff.
It really didn’t matter if Odell Beckham Jr. was eligible to play, because no one in white and blue seemed to even want to be there themselves. Perhaps it was the frigid temperatures that hovered in the teens, or a thirsty Vikings squad that still has plenty to play for. But whatever the reason, Big Blue didn’t do head coach Tom Coughlin any favors, as this seems to be his swan song – and what an ugly duckling this season has turned out to be.
Depending on how the playoffs shake out, this could’ve been the last Vikings’ game at TCF Bank Stadium, as they plan on opening their new digs next season. Whatever the case may be, the Minnesota faithful were provided a great show and at least delighted to see a glorified exhibition game.
Metro takes a look back at the key moments, as the Giants mailed it in, long distance.
What we saw:
1. Going down with the ship
Eli Manning will always be lauded, among other things, for his toughness and mettle. But even early into Sunday night it would’ve been a good time to sit down their franchise quarterback, as he was a sitting duck for a rabid Vikings’ pass rush that pinned back its ears with a 32-point spread in their favor. Manning, who was eventually replaced by Ryan Nassib on the team’s final drive, hung in there admirably, but his night was a disaster from the onset, as he went 15-of-29 for 234 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions -- including a 35-yard pick-six to safety Harrison Smith in the second quarter. He was also sacked five times. Manning’s offense was bad from the start, and never got any better, as the first quarter output (less than 30 total yards) was a sign of things to come.
Big Blue was left black and blue via Minnesota’s potent ground game, as both Adrian Peterson, and his understudy Jerick McKinnon, ran roughshod over New York’s front seven. Peterson tallied over 100 yards by the time the third quarter ended, en route to a game-high 104 yards rushing and one score. McKinnon was just as effective as the Vikings’ change-of-pace back when he notched 89 yards on just seven carries and two touchdowns, including a brilliant 68-yard dagger near the end of the game to provide the final tally for the Vikings. The Giants have been lousy all season against the run, but as soon as it was evident that they weren’t playing for anything of substance, their will to fight seemingly hopped a plane back to the Tri-State area.
3. The little things
All season, Coughlin has bemoaned that it’s the “little things that get you beat,” and Sunday night wasn’t any different. Just because it seemed that Big Blue had nothing left to play for this season, they still should’ve came out and played in a professional manner – if not for the job security of their beloved head coach, but for their own as well. But there were too many pratfalls and easy miscues that did in the Giants, as they simply look to play out the string. The simplest tasks, like executing an onside kick and catching wide-open passes, seemed too much of a bother. During the former sequence, New York’s onside kick was botched as Robert Blanton nearly scored after snaring the bouncing ball following a Rueben Randle touchdown, and nearly returned it for the touchdown, to the Giants’ 18-yard line. McKinnon punched it in six plays later from seven yards out to salt away the game. The latter example of mailing it in came when reserve wideout Myles White dropped a wide-open slant on 4th-and-1 late in the contest. The game was clearly out of reach by then, but it was a microcosm of the night – and season – for the Giants.