Notebook: A.D. limited in carries, success

The Vikings say they are a run-first offense, but even in the first half, when the Giants led by no more than four points, Minnesota abandoned the run early with Adrian Peterson's worst average in nearly three years. Plus, Freeman's bad performances are coming in a record-setting season for QB efficiency, the interception woes continue on defense, and many other statistical notes.

The Vikings gave Josh Freeman two weeks to prepare in their offense and then had him throw the ball 53 times in a 23-7 loss to the New York Giants Monday night.

In turn, that meant few turns for Adrian Peterson. Peterson was held to 28 yards on 13 carries, just a 2.2-yard average.

Only four times previously in his career has Peterson been held to a lower average. The last time? Against the New York Giants on Dec. 13, 2010.

"It was tough sledding. We couldn't get anything established up front," Peterson said.

"I was focused on preparing for the game. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way we wanted to. It was tough. The defense made it hard."

That hasn't been the case with the Giants defense of late. They had been yielding 123.3 yards rushing per game and had the 26th-ranked run defense in the league.

Numerous times the Giants stacked the line of scrimmage with extra defenders and dared the Vikings to pass the ball, giving them one-on-one matchups with the outside receivers. Freeman, however, couldn't take advantage as he struggled badly with his accuracy.

According to ESPN, Freeman had 16 overthrows, the most since they started tracking overthrows eight years ago.

"Tough tonight. We've gone against people that try to blitz to stop the run time and time again and we've been able to still have success," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "The fact that we couldn't get anything going tonight, that puts a lot of pressure on our passing game. We've got to go back and look at it and figure out why, because we're going to always see what we saw tonight. That's not unusual for us, so we've got to get that fixed fast. It's going to be the same way Sunday night."

Accuracy has long been a concern with Freeman, but this year it's been worse than ever. In three starts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one with the Vikings, Freeman has overthrown his receivers on 24 percent of his pass attempts, according to ESPN. No other quarterback has an overthrow percentage higher than 18 percent.

It was even more confounding in a game in which Peterson couldn't get anything going, either. He rushed only eight times in the first half, when the Giants never held more than a four-point lead.

In the last two games, Peterson has carried only 23 times for 90 yards. In each of the previous three games, he hadn't carried fewer than 23 times.


Freeman's struggles come at a time when quarterback statistics around the league are getting fat.

Entering Monday night's game, quarterbacks had combined for a league-wide 87.1 passer rating and a completion percentage of 61.6 – which would put both marks on pace to be the best in NFL history (85.6 passer rating in 2012 and 61.2 completion percentage in 2007).

In his first three games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year, Freeman had a 59.3 rating and 45.7 completion percentage. Monday night, those numbers were even worse – 40.6 rating and 37.7 completion percentage.

Despite being hailed for his accomplishments in the deep passing game, Freeman's inaccuracy led to a dismal average Monday night. He had only 3.58 yards per attempt, less than half the NFL average of 7.29 yards this season, which is also on pace for a league record in the Super Bowl era.


Marcus Sherels scored the Vikings' only touchdown with his 86-yard punt return, but he missed his chance at another.

He dropped an Eli Manning pass that he likely would have been able to return for a touchdown had he completed the interception. That also kept the NFL from tying its record of 31 interception returns for touchdowns through seven weeks of a season. The league had seen 30 pick-sixes this season before Monday night's game.

The Giants had the worst turnover ratio in the league, minus-16, entering the games over the weekend and had thrown 16 interceptions, including 15 by Eli Manning. The Vikings failed to intercept Manning, and Sherels' drop meant Minnesota's cornerbacks are still without an interception this season.

Harrison Smith, who will be out at least eight weeks after being placed on injured reserve/designated for return, is the only member of the Vikings secondary with an interception this season. Safeties Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo each dropped what should have been easy interceptions in successive weeks.


The Vikings inactives provided one surprise: LB Gerald Hodges, their fourth-round pick in April. With LB Desmond Bishop placed on injured reserve after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, Hodges was expected to be active.

"We're hoping to get him on the field. He got in a couple games, maybe one game now, Pittsburgh, on special teams and he did a good job when he got in. He'll keep coming as an outside linebacker," Frazier said last week after Bishop went to IR.

Still, for the fifth time in six games, Hodges was inactive. He has one special teams tackle in seven snaps there. Audie Cole, who had played 66 special teams snaps before Monday night's game, also had only one tackle.

Neither had played a snap on defense.

Also inactive for the Vikings were CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle), DT Chase Baker, DE Justin Trattou, G Jeff Baca, WR Rodney Smith and QB Matt Cassel.

For the Giants, QB Ryan Nassib, RB David Wilson, CB Jayron Hosely, S Cooper Taylor, TE Adrien Robinson, DT Johnathan Hankins were inactive.


  • The Vikings haven't won on Monday Night Football since 2009 and haven't won a road game yet this season (unless you count London as a road game).

  • Freeman is the first quarterback to start two games as a visitor in the same stadium since Norm Snead did that for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers at Dallas in 1974, according to FOX Sports.

  • Freeman had the lowest completion percentage (37.7) in a game with 40 or more attempts since Eli Manning was at 34 percent against the Washington Redskins in 2007, according to ESPN.

  • Another Freeman folly, via ESPN: He is only the second quarterback since 1960 to attempt 50 passes for less than 200 yards and no touchdowns. Dave Brown (1995) was the other.

  • The Giants came into the game averaging only 67.8 yards rushing per contest and were down to their fourth and fifth running backs. Peyton Hillis (36 yards), Michael Cox (23 yards) and Eli Manning (5 yards) combined for 64 yards rushing on 32 carries (a 2.0-yard average).

  • Sherels' 86-yard punt return for a touchdown was the second-longest by a Viking on Monday Night Football. Nate Burleson has the longest with a 91-yarder at Indianapolis in 2004.

  • The Giants had generated only five sacks entering the Vikings game and managed only one sack of Freeman in his 53 pass attempts.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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