Manning not himself vs. Vikings

Eli Manning became a Super Bowl champion last season, but before his playoff run were a couple of poor performances against the Vikings in the last three years. Will history repeat itself on Sunday?

Amid the speculation that the Giants might bench some of their key players for all or some of Sunday's game with the Vikings, one player whose name hasn't come up as often is quarterback Eli Manning. If there is anyone on the Giants roster who might want to avoid the Vikings, it would be No. 10.

In his two career starts vs. the Vikings, Manning has been brutal. He has a record of 0-2 with two touchdowns and eight interceptions – throwing one TD and four picks in each game. Manning, who has built a reputation for protecting the ball and not making stupid mistakes, has had a rough time with the Vikings. Last year, the Vikings pounded the Giants 41-17 at the Meadowlands and returned three Manning interceptions for touchdowns – one of 20 yards by Darren Sharper, one of 93 yards by Dwight Smith and another of 37 yards by Chad Greenway.

It was a beatdown for the ages that some believe actually helped the Giants on their postseason run. Their loss to the Vikings, much like last year's 34-0 beating taken by the Vikings against Green Bay, forced the Giants to take a hard look at themselves and determine what they needed to change to improve as a team. The Vikings would like nothing more than to get the Giants once again in self-assessment mode.

So just how did they do it? As per usual, it was stopping the run first.

"I wasn't around for the first game, but in last year's game, we were able to stuff the run and make their offense one-dimensional," linebacker Ben Leber said. "They got almost all of their rushing yards in the first quarter. After that, we gave them almost nothing and forced them to pass."

With the game tied 7-7 in the first quarter, the Vikings went on to outscore the Giants 31-3 before a late touchdown in the final minutes. Manning completed just 21 of 49 passes and the Vikings were able to pull out some trickery to confuse and befuddle the eventual Super Bowl MVP.

"Once we got them in the position where they felt they had to pass, we were able to bring blitzes at him from every direction," Leber said. "We had linebacker blitzes, safety blitzes, corner blitzes – we brought them all. We were able to disguise them and bring them from different directions – to the point he knew they were coming, but didn't know where from. No quarterback likes to get hit in the mouth and we were getting to him a lot."

Can the Vikings repeat history and frustrate Manning again Sunday? If his history to date means anything, Manning may want to join some of his injured teammates on the sidelines for the second half Sunday. There are just too many painful memories of playing the Vikings on his résumé not to.


  • Reports out of New York say that backup QB David Carr will see some action Sunday. Just how much is unclear, but Manning is expected to start and play in the first half, but it is unclear if he will play into the second half or not.

  • Bernard Berrian returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with an ankle sprain suffered in the second half of the Atlanta game last Sunday. At the time, it looked serious, as Berrian was taken to the trainer's table and had his left ankle heavily taped. He returned briefly to the game, but was clearly playing in pain. An MRI Monday revealed no significant damage to the ankle or the tendons around it and he has proclaimed himself ready to go Sunday against the Giants.

  • Artis Hicks practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day Thursday, adding some credence to the potential of him returning to the starting lineup at right tackle. Hicks has been out three of the last four games with a triceps injury that will likely require surgery following the season.

  • With just two more yards rushing, Adrian Peterson will become just the fifth player in NFL history to run for more than 3,000 yards in his first two seasons. He trails only Eric Dickerson (3,913), Edgerrin James (3,262), Earl Campbell (3,147) and Clinton Portis (3,099) in that exclusive club.

  • The Giants need just 52 yards from Derrick Ward to become the fourth team in league history to have a pair of 1,000-yard running backs in a season, joining the 1972 Dolphins (Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris), the 1976 Steelers (Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier) and the 1985 Browns (Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner) to have a pair of 1,000-yard RBs in a single season. The 2006 Falcons had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers as well, but one of them was QB Michael Vick – along with RB Warrick Dunn.

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