Hot Topic & Player Notes: Giants

The Giants' job is significantly more difficult now, and another slip this week against the Eagles will undo all the work they put into the first half of the season.

They will bring a 6-3 record into the game against Philadelphia, one step closer to the rest of NFC East after their weird loss to the Vikings. The Giants could have lengthened their lead last week, and with a victory over the Eagles almost coasted the rest of the way, but they found ways to lose that perhaps were only recently invented. As a result, they are closer to the pack.

Now they must get past a rejuvenated, non-T.O. Eagles' offense and a still dangerous defense if they hope to put one more victory on the board before they fly cross country (for the third time this season) to play Seattle on Thanksgiving weekend.

The burgeoning quarterback star, Eli Manning, came crashing back to earth with four interceptions against the Vikings, but he has had more good games than poor ones and might be expected to play better against Philadelphia. The Giants defense was unyielding -- except for a fatal late fourth-quarter drive that put the Vikings in line for a game-winning, 48-yard field goal.

But given another performance like that one next week, the Giants should be expected to win, and without Terrell Owens, the Eagles offense is far less imposing.

REPLAY

The Giants allowed the Vikings to become the first team in NFL history to have an interception return, a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns in the same game -- and that was the extent of the Minnesota scoring, with the exception of Paul Edinger's game-winning, 48-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining. Edinger's kick lifted the Vikings to a 24-21 win at Giants Stadium.

Minnesota's winning drive came right after the Giants had tied the game on a 3-yard touchdown by Tiki Barber, followed by his draw up the middle for the two-point conversion.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw four interceptions. With 23 completions in 48 attempts for 291 yards and one touchdown, he finished the game with a dismal 39.5 rating. Barber carried 23 times for 95 yards and led the team with eight catches for 111 yards.

The Giants defense allowed Minnesota only 11 first downs, 137 total net yards of offense and 12 net yards rushing. But the three return touchdowns -- a 92-yard interception by free safety Darren Sharper; an 86-yard kickoff return by Koren Robinson and a 71-yard punt return by Mewelde Moore -- were responsible for the tie that Edinger broke with his only successful attempt in three tries.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Eli Manning took most of the blame for the team's collapse against the Vikings. "It was on me," he said. "I threw four interceptions. I made bad decisions. I allowed them to play double coverage and I threw right into it. I know that bad games are part of football and I know we'll recover, but this hurts right now."

--Head coach Tom Coughlin had no good reason for his last play of the game, a short dump pass over the middle to RB Tiki Barber with 10 seconds remaining and Minnesota holding a 24-21 lead. "It was designed as the last play of a game," he said, all but ignoring the deep sideline route that could have led to a long field-goal attempt.

--WR Amani Toomer, who caught six passes for 61 yards, was respectful of the Vikings defense that played most of the game in a cover-two zone. "We should have completed more passes," he said. "I ran a couple of bad patterns and that didn't help. This one doesn't feel very good because when we needed to perform we didn't."

--DE Michael Strahan on the loss to the Vikings: "It was surprising that they got three returns for touchdowns. That definitely puts your team behind the eight ball."

--K Jay Feely missed just his second field-goal attempt of the season, a 28-yarder, while converting from 48 and 35 yards. "The (Vikings') kickoff (return) for a touchdown was just a bad kick with bad coverage, and it was very depressing to watch it happen," Feely said.

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