Eli Manning (Chris McGrath/Getty)
The Vikings and Giants have played each other a lot in the past decade, but this time the Giants are hurting while the Vikings are fighting for playoff positioning. It’s a bit of a different twist to a fairly regular matchup.
The Minnesota Vikings aren’t in the same division as the Giants, but they might as well be considering that this is the 10th time in 11 years that these two opponents have met, and the second year in a row the Giants are visiting the Vikings in the regular season finale.
Unlike the last time the Giants came to town, however, quite a lot has
changed for both teams.
In 2008, the Giants rolled into town fresh off an exhilarating 38-24 overtime win against Carolina, a victory that locked up the top playoff seed and home field advantage for New York.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was destined to become a wild card team and was hoping to come up with a strong performance against the NFC’s best. The Vikings did manage to top the Giants that day 20-19 as New York pulled most of its starters out of the game by the second half.
What a difference a year makes. Like last season, the Giants played Carolina prior to coming to Minnesota; however, instead of playing for home-field advantage, the Giants were looking to keep their playoff hopes alive and properly close out their stay at the stadium that bears their name.
Unfortunately for the Giants, they fell way short of those goals, producing their biggest stink bomb of what’s been a dismal 2009 season, a 41-9 uninspired and horrendous loss.
Minnesota, meanwhile is coming off a tough overtime loss on Monday night against Chicago, and now must beat what’s sure to be an angry and determined Giants team and hope for a Philadelphia loss against Dallas in order to clinch the second playoff seed and a first-round bye.
Despite the Giants having nothing tangible to play for, head coach Tom Coughlin has no plans of having his players coast to the finish line.
“What we’re playing for is just as important to us,” said Coughlin. “We need to re-establish who we are and to re-establish our own identity and re-establish some pride in the way that we perform and the way we play.”
“It is our job to play every game, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are,” added quarterback Eli Manning. “Going 9-7 and having a winning season is something you can look back and say ‘Hey, we aren’t far off from being a good team.’ Having a winning season is something that you can build on and something we can be somewhat proud of.”
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Vikings lead the series, 12-8, including a loss last season, 20-19, when the Giants also visited Minnesota in Week 17. The Giants lead the post-season series, most recently handing the Vikings a 41-0 shutout in the 2000 NFC Championship game played at Giants Stadium.
BY THE NUMBERS: 29 — The number of turnovers by the Giants offense through 15 games. In 2008, New York had only 13 turnovers, so they have more than doubled this statistic from a year ago.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “No one wants to hear about your troubles, OK? What they want to hear about is, ‘What are you going to do about it?’” — Giants head coach Tom Coughlin on the message being preached to his team this week following their embarrassing 41-9 loss to Carolina.
QB Eli Manning has 3,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, making him the first Giants quarterback to reach those numbers five straight seasons. Manning needs 194 passing yards to set the team’s single-season record currently owned by Kerry Collins, who has 4,073; and three touchdown passes to join Y.A. Tittle as the only Giants quarterbacks to throw at least 30 touchdown passes.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw has rushed for career-high 765 rush yards and seven touchdowns. With Brandon Jacobs out for this week’s game, Bradshaw will get his first career start.
WR Steve Smith leads the NFC with 97 receptions, which is a new team single-season high. Smith needs 37 yards to become the fourth Giants receiver to achieve 1,200 receiving yards.
DE Osi Umenyiora has recorded four sacks and a forced fumble in his last two appearances against the Vikings. If he can get at least two sacks this weekend, that will be his third game in a row with multiple sacks against the Vikings.
CB Terrell Thomas leads the Giants in interceptions (5), tackles (79) and passes defensed (13).