On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings had a couple of different scenarios that could have clinched a playoff berth for them before they took the field for Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants. But after the Atlanta Falcons ended the undefeated dreams of the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams pulled off a huge upset over the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings still found themselves without a ticket to the post-season party.
So, they did what any good Minnesotan would have done. . .they went out and did it themselves.
Behind an outstanding defensive performance featuring several returning stars, the Vikings pummeled the Giants on Sunday Night Football by a score of 49-17 and guaranteed themselves a trip to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Minnesota got on the board first, courtesy of a 32-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with seconds remaining in the first quarter, going ahead 3-0. They extended that lead early in the second quarter, as Teddy Bridgewater continued his outstanding play, finding Kyle Rudolph for a beautiful 28-yard touchdown pass to extend the Minnesota lead to 10-0 (after the Blair Walsh extra point).
New York cut into the lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Josh Brown to make the score 10-3. The Vikings put another score on the board, this one courtesy of the defense. Eli Manning overthrew one of his receivers, and the ball went directly to the returning Harrison Smith. Smith then took it back 35 yards for a touchdown, and the Vikings found themselves leading 16-3 after Walsh missed the extra point.
Smith's big play was the fourth pick-six of his career, and he is now the Vikings' all-time franchise leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns, so congratulations to him on that feat.
Walsh added a 52-yard field goal just before halftime, and Minnesota went into the locker room with a 19-3 lead. He also scored the first points of the second half, tacking on a 22-yarder to extend the lead to 22-3 midway through the third quarter. The Vikings then capitalized on another interception, as Captain Munnerlyn took another Manning pass down to the Minnesota 4-yard line, and Adrian Peterson plowed into the end zone two plays later for his tenth touchdown of the season. Walsh added the extra point to make the score 29-3.
Late in the third quarter, Walsh added another field goal from over 50 yards. . .this one a 53-yarder. . .to make the score 32-3. The Giants then finally got into the end zone as Eli Manning lofted what looked to be a desperation pass to Rueben Randle. Randle was the recipient of a poor attempt at tackling by Andrew Sendejo, and he wound up going the distance for a 72-yard touchdown that cut Minnesota's lead to 32-10.
The Giants then attempted an onside kick, and Robert Blanton alertly fielded it and took the ball down to the New York 17-yard line. After they changed ends for the fourth quarter, the Vikings got into the end zone once again, as Jerick McKinnon ran one in from seven yards out for his first career rushing touchdown (he got his first career receiving touchdown last week), and Blair Walsh hit the extra point to make the lead 39-10. Walsh then added yet another field goal, this one a 27-yarder to make the score 42-10.
To cap things off, while the Vikings were trying to run out the clock, Jerick McKinnon took a handoff from Shaun Hill and slipped through a hole on the left side, sprinting 68 yards for a touchdown. Blair Walsh added another extra point to make the score 49-10. The Giants got a late touchdown on a 25-yard pass from backup quarterback Ryan Nassib to Myles White just after the two-minute warning to cut the deficit to 49-17, and that's how it ended.
The offensive numbers for the Vikings weren't mind-blowing, by any stretch. Adrian Peterson had his first 100-yard game since the Vikings beat the Falcons, carrying the ball 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Jerick McKinnon chipped in with 89 yards on seven carries and his long touchdown run. Teddy Bridgewater completed 15-of-25 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Jarius Wright was the Vikings' leading receiver, catching three passes for 57 yards. Kyle Rudolph also had three receptions for 53 yards and was the recipient of Bridgewater's lone touchdown pass.
Things were fairly ugly on the Giants' side of things, as you'd imagine. Eli Manning completed 15-of-24 passes for 231 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. . .one each for Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Smith (who took his all the way to the end zone) and Captain Munnerlyn. Rashad Jennings carried the ball 14 times for 74 yards on the evening. Rueben Randle led the Giants in receiving with two catches for 80 yards, including the big 72-yard touchdown reception.
The Vikings move to 10-5 on the season, their first campaign with double-digit victories since 2012, and will take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football for the NFC North division title. The Giants fall to 6-9, and will finish out their season by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Minnesota Vikings are heading to the 2015 NFL playoffs after pounding the New York Giants, 49-17. Thanks to everybody that got their coverage of this week's game right here at The Daily Norseman!