Vikings have had Manning's number

The Vikings defense has had its way with Giants QB Eli Manning the last three years, but the Vikings no longer have Darren Sharper and the Giants' receiving corps is a different group. Some of the key players talked about their past successes and their expectations for Sunday.

Around the NFL, Eli Manning is acknowledged as one of the league's top quarterbacks. However, his history against the Vikings is as bad as it has been against any team in the league. In three career starts against the Vikings, Manning has a record of 0-3, has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and has thrown just two touchdown passes while tossing eight interceptions.

For a player with a Super Bowl trophy to his credit and a leaguewide acknowledgement of his skill, he has struggled badly against the Vikings, who hope to see that trend continue.

"I don't know if it that we match up well against them or the situations that happen during a game," linebacker Ben Leber. "Everyone on this defense knows that Eli is a very good quarterback and that he can beat you in a lot of ways. Whatever it is we're doing, we're going to have to keep doing it Sunday."

What the Vikings have done is make Manning look pedestrian at best. His first career start came at home in 2005 – a game the Vikings won 24-21 without the benefit of an offensive touchdown. The Vikings TDs came on a punt return, a kickoff return and an interception return. Manning completed 23 of 48 passes for 291 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. The Vikings again ventured to the Meadowlands in 2007 and the result was much the same for Manning. He completed just 21 of 49 passes for 273 yards, but once again threw four interceptions – one returned 94 yards for a touchdown by Darren Sharper in a 41-17 blowout.

"He's a tremendous player and always seemed to have big games against me when he was in Minnesota," Manning said Wednesday when asked about Sharper. "They still have talented players. We got to worry about Jared Allen and the rest of that defensive front."

Last year, Manning made his first appearance at the Metrodome and, while his numbers were better – 11 of 19 passing for 119 yards – he struggled to move the ball before being pulled in the fourth quarter as a pre-playoff precaution.

With all the accolades Manning has garnered, success against the Vikings hasn't come easy and Allen said it's typically a simple formula for success – regardless of how talented the quarterback is.

"Any quarterback will have some problems if you can stop the run and force them into passing situations," Allen said. "When we get a chance to pin our ears back and get pressure on the quarterback, he has to get of rid of it before he wants to. That's when good things happen with our defense."

Running the ball may be difficult for the Giants this week. Starter Brandon Jacobs is out and primary backup Ahmad Bradshaw has both ankle and foot injuries that kept him out of the early pre-game practices this week. It is going to put more onus on Manning to come up big in the passing game. Although the Giants technically have nothing to play for, those players who have gone through the last three losses at the hands of the Vikings likely aren't going to just go through the motions.

"There's always something to play for," Allen said. "Whether it's pride or just trying to prove a point, these are professionals and they're not just going to lay down for us because they're out of the playoffs. We've beaten them the last two years and they haven't forgotten about it."

Although Manning has had to replace his three top receiving weapons over the last two years – Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer – the young cast of Giants receivers has many seeing a bright future for their offense that was a big question mark when the season began. Steve Smith has emerged as a top receiving threat, Mario Manningham has developed into a solid red zone option and rookie Hakeem Nicks has show a lot of big-play ability. This is a group that has learned on the job and has made a big leap forward as the year has progressed.

"They have a lot of young receivers, but when you watch them on film they play like they've been together a long time," cornerback Cedric Griffin said. "They are deep and all of them have a lot of talent. They don't have just one guy that they count on for big plays like they did when Plaxico was there. All of their receivers make plays and there isn't just one go-to guy they look for when they need a big play."

While the Giants' 2009 regular season finale will be a far cry from how they closed off the 2008 season – sitting with the top seed in the NFC playoffs, looking forward to a bye week and what was expected to be a cold Super Bowl run – they are still a team with a lot of pride and one that isn't going to go quietly into the offseason.

"We expect to get the best they've got," Leber said. "Things haven't gone their way this year, but they aren't the kind of the team that will let down knowing that their season will be ending Sunday. They want to go into the offseason on a high note and start building themselves back up. I expect we're going to see the best they've got."


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