Grading the game: Giants

When it comes to the report card, it's all good – well, almost all good, some average – after the Vikings routed the Giants on Sunday. They did it was a solid defensive effort and an explosive, pass-first offense.

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus — Brett Favre is back to being, well, Brett Favre. The quarterback made that clear in throwing for 316 yards and four touchdowns in the Vikings' 44-7 victory Sunday over the New York Giants. Favre has been spectacular since throwing for 36 yards in the first half of the Vikings' overtime loss at Chicago a week ago Monday. Since then, Favre has passed for 601 yards (46 of 62) with six touchdowns and no interceptions in five-plus quarters. Favre's statistics against the Giants would have been more impressive, but he was removed from the game in the third quarter with the Vikings holding a 41-0 lead. Favre completed 25 of 31 passes vs. New York and his replacement, Tarvaris Jackson, hit on four of six passes. The combined 29 completions went to nine different receivers with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and wide receiver Percy Harvin having seven catches apiece and Sidney Rice finishing with six and two touchdowns. Rice had a 50-yard reception, Bernard Berrian had a 40-yarder and Shiancoe caught one for 27 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — Favre was brought on board to give the Vikings more credibility in the passing game and thus open up the run game even more. Only it hasn't worked that way. The latest example came Sunday as Adrian Peterson tied his career low with nine carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Peterson didn't even get a carry on the Vikings' opening two possessions as Chester Taylor got the work. Taylor finished with only two fewer rushing attempts. Third-string running back Albert Young got plenty of work in garbage time and actually led the Vikings with 10 rushing attempts. Exactly what is going on with Peterson is difficult to say, but one would think the Vikings are going to need him to re-establish himself if they are going to have success in the playoffs. The only thing is the more the Vikings rely on Favre's arm the more successful they seem to become. Even the Minnesota coaching staff seems to be accepting that perhaps for this season they are a pass-first offense.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus — Eli Manning and David Carr both had turns at quarterback for the Giants but neither had much success and in all honesty New York looked as if it would have rather been anywhere but playing a football game. The Giants generated 167 yards through the air but Manning was picked off once (by linebacker Chad Greenway) and sacked three times (by Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison). The Vikings had an interesting game plan, limiting cornerback Antoine Winfield to about 20 snaps by playing him in the slot in the nickel defense. This was done because Winfield had struggled in the Vikings' back-to-back losses at Carolina and Chicago as he tried to play despite an injury to his right foot that had cost him six games. Winfield seemed to do well in his limited role and his replacement at the left corner, Benny Sapp, also had a solid game. Steve Smith led the Giants with 10 receptions but the long went for 8 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: A — The Giants' run game was non-existent against the Vikings. New York attempted only 12 rushing plays and gained a total of 35 yards. This was in part because the Giants trailed by so much early and also because New York probably knew on this day it would be futile to try to run against the Vikings. Minnesota was helped by the fact that nose tackle Pat Williams returned after missing one game because of an elbow injury. The Vikings were able to rest members of their starting defensive line in the second half because of the big lead they held.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B — The Vikings had some struggles in various aspects of special teams during their two-game losing streak but this time around there weren't many troubling issues. Kicker Ryan Longwell hit on three of three field goals and while Giants kick returner Domenik Hixon averaged 22.9 yards on eight kickoff returns none went for more than 27 yards. That was a big improvement over the Vikings performance in Chicago a week earlier when 57- and 59-yard kick returns in the second half by the Bears' Danieal Manning set up touchdowns. About the most troubling aspect of the special teams for the Vikings was that wide receiver Darius Reynaud muffed a couple of punts. Neither, however, resulted in turnovers. The Giants also kept up the trend that certain teams have used of not kicking off to Percy Harvin. The explosive rookie was back for the opening kickoff, but the Giants' Lawrence Tynes kicked it short to Jeff Dugan and gave up field position as a result.

COACHING: B — After a couple of tough road games and losing three of four, the Vikings did what they needed to do against the Giants and that was hit an inferior team in the mouth early and not let them get up. Coach Brad Childress and his staff deserve some of the credit after their team struggled to beat subpar teams in the Panthers and Bears in back-to-back weeks on the road. The Vikings also seem to be adjusting to the fact that although they might not like it, they have become a team that needs to rely on the pass more than the run. For whatever reason that is what is working for them and fighting it now probably doesn't make a lot of sense.


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