The Vikings found a way to win - for the fourth time in four games. It was perhaps a little different than the past wins, but at least equally impressive.
Some stats that stand out:
0 sacks. Both teams.
0 turnovers (again), Vikings.
Odell Beckham: 3 catches, 23 total receiving yards.
Xavier Rhodes: 1 INT, 29 return yards.
Vikings WR receiving yards: 166 (CJ, Diggs, Thielen, Patterson)
Giants WR receiving yards: 103 (Cruz, Shepard, Beckham)
100% - Vikings red zone efficiency - 3/3.
50% - Vikings third down efficiency - 8/16
101.9 - Sam Bradford passer rating. 26/36 (72%) for 262 yards, 1 TD. 7.83 ANY/A (adjusted net yards per attempt)
104 - Vikings total rushing yards - double their average over the first three games.
35:32 - Vikings time of possession
14% - Giants combined 3rd & 4th down efficiency 2/14.
63.3 - Eli Manning passer rating. 25/45 (56%) for 261 yards, 1 INT. 4.8 ANY/A
Best Game Overall for the Offense
Overall, this was easily the best game of the year offensively for the Vikings, both in terms of points scored by the offense, rushing yards, and third down efficiency. It was also the best game for the offensive line, which didn't give up any sacks, and according to PFF only gave up pressure to Bradford on only 18.7% of his dropbacks vs. 43.1% the previous two weeks. Alex Boone, Brandon Fusco, and Joe Berger were among the highest rated Vikings players on offense according to PFF.
It appears that Fusco might be getting a little more settled in to his old RG position, but we'll have to see how he does down the road before declaring him back to his old, pre-injury, form. Still, it's encouraging to see the Vikings offensive line slowly improve over the first few games despite the injuries.
Jeremiah Sirles came in to replace the injured Andre Smith at RT, and did well overall - as he did last week at LG. I wouldn't be disappointed if he replaced Andre Smith at RT, given how poorly Smith has played, but that does leave the offensive line almost totally depleted. Not sure what is possible, but the Vikings need more offensive linemen in the event of more injuries.
Sam Bradford also continued his efficient, relatively mistake-free performance since becoming a Viking. Once again he did not give up a turnover, while completing 72% of his passes for 262 yards and a TD. His 7.83 ANY/A last night, and 7.42 over his first three games, is on pace to carry the Vikings, along with an elite defense, deep into the post season.
If I have one ding to put on the Vikings passing game, it would be that I was hoping for even more downfield success against the depleted Giants secondary. Charles Johnson was working against their worst CB, and was open a couple times deep that Bradford didn't see or wasn't able to get him the ball.
Defensive Secondary Continues to Shine
Defensively, Xavier Rhodes was the standout performance, holding Odell Beckham to a mere 23 yards- his worst career performance, while also getting the INT and a nice pass breakup on Beckham as well. For the second week in a row, the defensive secondary overall really shined, and is proving to be the strength of the defense. Five of the top six highest graded players on defense were in the secondary.
The defensive front did not record any sacks this game, and had only one TFL, so not so much production there against the Giants. But this was due largely to the Giants offensive game plan, which focused heavily on the quick, short passing game. Eli Manning seemed determined not to give up a sack, even if it meant throwing it short into the ground- which he did on several occasions.
It was a little bit curious that the Giants stuck with that game plan into the fourth quarter, despite being down 14 points, as short completions over the middle were just fine for the Vikings, as they ran down the clock just as harmlessly as short runs.
After the game Eli Manning said the Vikings did some things on defense they weren't expecting, showing more 2-deep safeties than they had in the past- presumably to take away the Giants deeper passing game - which proved very effective. This speaks to the versatility of the defense, and the secondary in particular, which can show and execute many different coverages as needed during the course of a game.
Overall, an impressive win for the Vikings as they shut down the Giants formidable trio of receivers and got them off the field on third down. The offense also put up some better numbers in a few key categories they have struggled with in the past- 3rd downs, pressures, rushing yards, and points.
There were a few negatives- the 70-yard screen pass the defense allowed being the biggest, but overall there was improvement in more areas that could bode well for the future.