Prior to Sunday's four-interception performance, the only other time Manning threw four interceptions was against the Vikings in 2005.
"Every one has its own story. One of them was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage where I was throwing to (Jeremy) Shockey for a touchdown and the ball got tipped and that is just the way things go sometimes," Manning said of his second interception returned for a touchdown, a pick that Dwight Smith returned 93 yards for a 34-10 Vikings lead. "We didn't catch any breaks and we didn't perform well and they took advantage of it."
The Vikings blitzed Manning early and often, something that linebacker Ben Leber said last week they probably couldn't do. However, Leber was prophetic in telling what the defense needed to do limit the number of quarterbacks that have been throwing for more than 300 yards against the Vikings
"I think we've done a pretty good job lately working in some fire zone and blitzes and going man to man and still going back to our base Cover-2," Leber said last week. "Most importantly, we need to do a better job of disguising some of our other looks out of Cover-2 and always kind of keeping that Cover-2 look."
According to Darren Sharper, the Vikings did just that.
"We were aggressive. The calls allowed us to attack what they were doing. We moved around a lot and disguised our coverages, but we also went after them and matched our corners with their receivers and played a lot of man coverage and blitzed them," Sharper said. "That didn't allow for Eli to sit back and let his feet settle. We knew if we were able to make him throw off his back foot and make some throws, we would have a chance to make some plays."
The Vikings showed numerous and varied defensive looks on Sunday and brought pressure on blitzes from all angles. They walked away with only three sacks – two of them from backup defensive tackles – but they produced enough confusion between the Manning and his receivers to fashion four interceptions from the quarterback for the second consecutive time these two teams have faced each other.
"They had a good mix. They were mixing up their defenses and their blitzes," Manning said. "We just have to look at the film and figure out an answer and how we are going to attack things."
The Vikings became the 10th team in NFL history to return three interceptions for touchdowns, and that left Giants coach Tom Coughlin surprised and stating that being "disappointed" isn't a strong enough term to describe his feelings.
"In the National Football League, you obviously cannot wrap it up and hand it to the guy across the field and we did. I did not, in my worst moment, ever think I would be standing here talking about history repeating itself, but it did," Coughlin said. "We talked about this during the course of the week with regard to the last time Minnesota came here. The interceptions for touchdowns, there is no excuse for it. You are not going to be able to win a football game when you give away the points that we did with the three scores and then the ball on the 8-yard line."
The Vikings now have seven defensive returns for touchdowns – five on interceptions and two on fumble recoveries – this season.
"You can't hand a team too many big plays because a team like the Vikings will take it and run away with it. And that is the tale of the tape (for this game)," receiver David Tyree said.
Said Giants offensive lineman Rich Suebert: "It is probably the worst game I have been a part of as a New York Giant. I'm embarrassed, and I'm sure a lot of other guys are here, too."
Manning should be first in the line of embarrassment. He became the first quarterback since Ed Baker of the Houston Oilers in 1972 navigated a 61-17 loss to Cincinnati with three interceptions returned for a touchdown in the same game.
Like Manning on Sunday, Baker also threw four interceptions, but Manning at least had a better rating. He finished with a 33.8 rating while Baker had a 15.4 passer rating in 1972. Incidentally, that was Baker's only action in his two-year NFL career.
Once again, the Vikings didn't take long to score their first touchdown and, once again, rookie wide receiver Sidney Rice was involved.
Last week against the Oakland Raiders, the Vikings opened the game with a reverse to Rice that he turned into a 79-yard pass play by unleashing a bomb to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. On the next play, Chester Taylor scored with a touchdown 49 seconds into the game.
On Sunday against the Giants, the Vikings opened their first offensive drive with a fake end-around to Rice that Taylor took for no yards. But, just like last weekend, the Vikings scored on their second offensive play of the game. This time, it was quarterback Tarvaris Jackson executing a playfake that froze the defense for a second, then leading the single deep safety to the left side of the field with his eyes and letting go of a 60-yard bomb to Rice down the right sideline that went for a touchdown 41 seconds into the game.
STRANGE SACK STATS
In a game of strange statistics comes this improbable one.
The Vikings sacked Manning three times for 39 yards, including a 26-yard retreat on Manning's last snap. However, the Giants sacked Tarvaris Jackson four times for only 5 yards.
That would seem to be nearly impossible, but the Giants caught Jackson scrambling toward the line of scrimmage several times, including one sack for zero yards. Another sack resulted in a forced fumble by Osi Umenyiora that sprung the ball forward 9 yards before Bobby Wade recovered – for a first down.
Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins was playing against his former team and had one of the best games of his career. He had 1 ½ sacks, the first time since 2004 he has had more than one sack in a game, but that didn't seem to matter to Robbins.
"I don't care about statistics other than the win," he said.
The one mistake Robbins made was an offside penalty that converted a third down for the Vikings.
Peterson was inactive for the game, as was cornerback Antoine Winfield (hamstring), TE Garrett Mills, T Chase Johnson, WR Aundrae Allison, DE Jayme Mitchell, safety Mike Doss and emergency QB Kelly Holcomb.
The Giants also had their top running back, Brandon Jacobs, inactive because of injury. Primary backup Derrick Ward was also out with an injury.