Grading The Game: Giants

Daunte Culpepper

The Vikings pretty well stunk up the joint in Sunday's Metrodome loss to the Giants, producing a few failing grades to units that generally had very strong reviews in the recent past.

PASSING OFFENSE: F — After a brilliant start to the season, QB Daunte Culpepper and the passing game were horrible as visibly hobbled WR Randy Moss (strained right hamstring) limped through nine plays without a catch. Three turnovers in the passing game resulted in 17 Giants points in the 34-13 loss at the Metrodome. Culpepper threw two interceptions. He underthrew TE Jermaine Wiggins on his first one. On the second one, he and WR Nate Burleson had a miscommunication that resulted in Culpepper throwing the ball directly to Giants CB Will Allen. The other turnover was a fumble off a lateral to RB Mewelde Moore. Moore was supposed to run his route beyond the line of scrimmage. When Moore dropped the ball, he thought it was an incompletion, so he didn't fall on it. Giants LB Kevin Lewis alertly picked it up and ran 16 yards the other way, setting up a field goal. The Vikings challenged the play, but replays clearly showed Culpepper's pass went backwards. Culpepper posted season lows for completion percentage (57.1) and passer rating (60.7).

RUSHING OFFENSE: F — With 12 minutes left in the game and the Giants leading 34-0, the Vikings had 55 yards rushing on 16 carries for a 3.4-yard average. Fourth-quarter garbage time allowed the Vikings to boost their rushing average to 4.7 with 93 yards and a 10-yard touchdown run by RB Michael Bennett. The Vikings extended their NFL record of games with at least a 4.0-yard average to 17, but it was hardly a good performance. After back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, rookie RB Mewelde Moore was held to 29 yards on eight carries. Culpepper had a team-high 32 yards rushing.

PASS DEFENSE: B — The Vikings sacked Kurt Warner five times, including four in the first half. They held Warner to 144 yards passing. And they gave up only two passes longer than 20 yards. Situational pass rusher Lance Johnstone had two sacks, while Kevin Williams, Kenechi Udeze and Kenny Mixon had one apiece. The Vikings' defense started the game with two sacks on the Giants' first three snaps. On the negative side, safety Corey Chavous dropped an interception in the end zone and was flagged for a 38-yard pass interference penalty on TE Jeremy Shockey. Chavous should be able to cover Shockey, but he was overmatched on Sunday. Nickel linebacker Willie Offord, a converted safety, also blew coverage on Shockey when he fell down on third-and-23 from the Vikings' 27. Shockey gained 26 yards to the 1, setting up another Giants touchdown.

RUSH DEFENSE: D — The Vikings' defense had to deal with a short field the entire game. The average touchdown drive covered only 50.5 yards. However, that doesn't excuse the defense for giving up four rushing touchdowns of 5 yards or fewer, including two to Mike Cloud. The Giants entered the game ranked tied for 30th in red-zone touchdown percentage. They had scored only seven touchdowns in 21 trips to the red zone. They scored four in five trips against the Vikings. Overall, the Giants ran for 168 yards, with Tiki Barber going for 101 and two touchdowns.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F — For the second consecutive week, the Vikings opened the game with a holding penalty on the opening kickoff. Things got worse from there. A blocked punt, which came despite the fact the Giants weren't in an all-out rush, led to a touchdown. Morten Andersen clanged a 38-yard field goal off the left upright for his first miss inside of 40 yards this season. Nate Burleson returned two punts for six yards. The kickoff return unit averaged 17 yards on seven returns. The Vikings just aren't getting the job done on special teams.

COACHING: D — The Vikings had every reason to play with high energy. The Giants, after all, were the team that started last year's 3-7 slide after a 6-0 start. Players heard about the comparisons all week, but still came out admittedly flat. Tice put them through a tough week of practice. Maybe too tough. Tice also blew both of his challenges within the first 12 minutes of the game on two calls that weren't that close to going in his favor. The Vikings were just lucky they didn't have a need to challenge another critical call the rest of the game.



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