Game Notes

Dayne down and out: <BR><BR> For the first time this season, RB Ron Dayne, who has been miserable in short-yardage situations, was deactivated. The Giants claimed it was mainly because they needed WR Willie Ponder up as insurance for the ailing Amani Toomer, who was questionable all week with a hamstring injury but played, and OL Greg Walker, who dressed because of center Shaun O'Hara's absence.

Coughlin opted to dress Mike Cloud, who contributes on special teams, over Dayne, who doesn't. However, it's hard to believe that Dayne's previous struggles had nothing to do with the decision. Judging by how Tiki Barber and Mike Cloud handled the load near the goal line, don't expect to see Dayne again any time soon.

O'Hara sidelined: Center Shaun O'Hara missed the game due to an infection in his leg. He was hospitalized late last week.

"Shaun has cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin, to his left lower leg and ankle," Giants Vice President for Medical Services Ronnie Barnes said last Thursday. "The infection appears superficial and is being treated in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics. It began as a red area of the skin that began to swell and spread over a short period of time. The immediate cause of the infection is unknown. Shaun sustained a calf contusion to the same leg against the Lions, and the injury may be related to the infection."

With O'Hara out of the lineup, Wayne Lucier started at center. Lucier, who started at left guard when the Giants played in Minnesota last year, played very well.

The rest of New York's inactives were S Curry Burns, RB Derrick Ward, LB T.J. Hollowell, OL Marques Sullivan and DT Kenderick Allen. Jesse Palmer was the club's third QB.

Getting familiar: This was the fourth year in a row the Giants played the Vikings in the Metrodome. After losing a Monday night game in 2001, the Giants won there in each of the last two seasons. In 2003, the 2-4 Giants notched a 29-17 victory over a Minnesota team that entered the game with a record of 6-0.

Indoor activities: The Giants have a 4-1 overall record in the Metrodome (they also won there in 1986) and a 19-12 record indoors. They had won four consecutive indoor games before losing in New Orleans last Dec. 14.

Coughlin was 4-6 in domed stadiums as coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, including 1-1 in Minnesota.

All-time results: The Vikings now lead the regular season series between the teams, 9-8. The Giants lead the postseason series, 2-1.

NFC East: The Eagles, who beat the Ravens, improved to 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. The 5-2 Giants remained in second place, ahead of Dallas, 3-4 after topping Detroit, and Washington, 2-5 after falling to Green Bay.

New York returns home for a match-up with Chicago Sunday at Giants Stadium. Kickoff is at 4:05.

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