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5 Takeaways From The Giants Loss

Posted Oct 22, 2013

Looking to get back on the winning track, the Vikings were tasked with traveling to the East coast this week to face a team that hadn’t even been on the winning track once this season – the New York Giants. Unfortunately for the Vikings, a lackluster offensive effort and mistakes in all three phases of the game prevented them from kicking the Giants while they were down, and the end result was a 23-7 loss that moved them to 1-5 on the season.

So what went wrong? Here are a few ideas…

 

Couldn’t get Adrian going
Everything the Vikings do offensively is predicated on running the football, and that includes in the passing game, where the Vikings use play-action and bootlegs frequently to strike through the air. So when the Vikings lose their identity – running the football – they often times lose their way.

Credit the Giants for taking away the Vikings most lethal offensive weapon – Adrian Peterson. The reigning NFL MVP was held to just 28 yards on 13 carries, a line that features far too few carries and far too low a rushing total. As I wrote in the Monday Morning Mailbag: Tuesday Edition, if the Vikings are running the ball well, they have a chance to open up the passing game and move the ball that way, too. And when the Vikings are moving the ball on offense and scoring points, that puts the defense in more favorable spots and it also alleviates the defense from pressure to continually make stops. It’s a cyclical effect, and it all starts with the running game.

But on Monday night the running game wasn’t there for the Vikings, so nothing got started.

Missed opportunities
Two Vikings defensive backs dropped interception chances, and the second of the two drops would likely have been a pick-six. Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 69 yards to the Giants 40, but the Vikings came away with no points on the drive after Josh Freeman took a 14-yard sack on 3rd and 3rd and 3 from the 21. And long snapper Cullen Loeffler recovered a fumble on the Giants 31 that was forced by Larry Dean, but the Vikings gave the ball right back to the Giants via a Freeman interception two plays later and came away with no points.

Missed opportunities. It’s a phrase Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier used during his post-game press conference to describe what went into his team’s fifth loss of the season. Missing on opportunities to take the ball away and not scoring on drives that began deep in Giants territory are mistakes that are tough to overcome, particularly when you’re on the road.

Two turning points go the Giants way
Marcus Sherels has been a bright spot for the Vikings this season, and in fact he was responsible for the only Vikings points on the night – a sensational 86-yard punt return touchdown in the 1st half that staked the Vikings to a 7-3 lead.

Unfortunately, a couple of mistakes on back-to-back plays allowed the Giants to take command of the game. Trailing 10-7 midway through the 3rd quarter, the Vikings got the Giants in a 3rd and 10 from their own 33. Quarterback Eli Manning made a poor throw to the Giants sideline, and Sherels instinctively jumped the route and got his hands on the pass. But Sherels wasn’t able to secure the interception, and had he caught Manning’s pass there was nothing but 70-some yards of green artificial surface between him, the end zone and a Vikings lead. The pass was incomplete and the Giants were forced to punt.

Sherels fielded the punt and darted toward the middle of the field, but then tripped. As Sherels fell and hit the ground, the ground forced the ball from Sherels’ grasp and because he wasn’t contacted before or after touching the ground, the ball was live and the Giants recovered. Manning and Co. took over on the Vikings 3 and two plays later Peyton Hillis scored a touchdown and the Giants took a 17-7 lead, and never looked back.

Offense couldn’t convert 3rd downs
The Vikings were just seven of 18 (39%) on 3rd downs and they had seven drives of four plays or under, a combination of events that led to a lot of punts (seven, to be exact) and a lot of Giants possessions. New York held a 13-minute advantage in time of possession, a margin that will wear down a defense over time.

The Vikings defense actually kept the Vikings in this game until the late stages of the 4th quarter, but you just wonder what kind of impact the defense could’ve made had they not been on the field for over 36 minutes of the game.

Talking turnovers
The Giants came into this game as the most turnover prone team in the NFL. But the Giants came out of the game winners of the turnover battle by a 3-1 margin. This was the first game of the season in which Manning did not throw an interception, and it was yet another game this season in which the Vikings struggled with turnovers, losing one possession to an interception and two more to fumbles on special teams – Sherels fumbled punt return and a fumble by Sharrif Floyd on a kickoff return.

The Giants scored 10 points off those three Vikings turnovers and the Vikings scored zero points off the Giants lone turnover. All season the Giants have been stung by turnovers and then by their opponents scoring off those turnovers. The Vikings weren’t able to do either, and then turned around and gave the ball away three times in their own right.