*Tonight the Vikings will host the Saints on Monday Night Football for the 2017 regular-season opener, and Vikings.com's writers have been taking a look each week at a "memorable Monday" in franchise history.*
Minnesota is 27-32 all-time on *MNF, and the Vikings are scheduled to play twice this season on the series that launched in 1970.*
*We'll finish our series with last year's contest in which the Vikings defeated the Giants 24-10 to move to 4-0 on the season. The win also effectively snapped a seven-game-MNF losing streak. That evening marked Sam Bradford's third game in Purple and showcased a stout Vikings defense that held the Giants three-receiver set in check and limited Pro Bowl QB Eli Manning to a passer rating of 63.3 after going just 25-of-45 passing with no touchdowns. *
*To wrap up our series, all three of the Vikings.com writers will share their memories on a different aspect of the first *Monday Night Football *contest at U.S. Bank Stadium. *
Vikings 24, Giants 10
Weather:None (Played indoors) | Temp:N/A
Paid Attendance: 66,690 | Time of game: 7:35 p.m. (CT)
NYG 0 3 0 7 | 10
MIN 7 7 3 7 | 24
Head Coach Mike Zimmer had a number in mind for the Vikings offense. It wasn't points.
Instead, it was first downs. He told the team at their first meeting of the week that the Vikings offense needed to get 22 first downs because he viewed possession of the football important against a Giants team with scoring threats.
The Vikings hit the mark, getting 22 (six by rushing, 14 by passing and two by penalty) first downs by going 8-for-16 on third downs and blending passes and runs on drives.
"Coach said it on, oh, my days are all screwed up playing on Monday, but our Wednesday meetings, I guess Thursday, that we needed to get 22 first downs on offense," Kyle Rudolph said after the game. It was important for us to stay on the field, sustain drives and score touchdowns, and in order for us to do that, we've got to convert on third downs."
Rudolph led the Vikings with five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. Of his four non-scoring plays, all but one converted to Vikings first downs. Stefon Diggs also had five catches for 47 yards in the third start by Sam Bradford for Minnesota.
Bradford completed 26 of 36 passes for 262 yards and wasn't sacked, and the Vikings ran the football 33 times for 104 yards and two scores on the ground. Jerick McKinnon led the Vikings with 18 carries for 85 yards and had one of the scores.
The balanced offensive effort by the Vikings offense stood in stark contrast on a night when the Vikings defense denied any establishment of rhythm for the Giants.
Snapping the streak | Eric Smith |@EricLSmith
Seven straight times the Vikings had trotted out onto the prime-time lights of Monday Night Football, and seven straight times they had walked away with a loss.
This time would be different though, as Minnesota snapped a frustrating skid on national television by riding a defense that stymied and harassed the Giants offense all night.
While the Vikings defense made their mark all over the field, it was on one certain down where they shined the most, as the Giants converted just two of 12 third-down tries.
Minnesota combined a ferocious pass rush with airtight coverage to limit New York's aerial attack. Manning's passer rating of 63.3 ended up being the second-lowest mark of the season for the Giants quarterback.
And even though the Vikings defensive line didn't record a sack, they forced Manning into hurried throws.
"It starts from our D-line," Vikings cornerback Terence Newman said after the win. "Those guys get after the quarterback, and teams know that.
"They can't really sit back and take shots all day because our D-Line is pretty good," he added.
Rhodes closed | Lindsey Young |@LindseyMNSports
After missing the first two games of the season due to injury, cornerback Xavier Rhodes returned to the field with a vengeance.
In the previous week at Carolina, Rhodes had tightened down the defense and helped hold Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin without a reception all afternoon. When he was then assigned to cover Giants leading receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., Rhodes didn't miss a beat. The defensive back stuck to Beckham like glue all night.
Beckham was targeted nine times but, thanks mainly to Rhodes, caught just three passes for a total of 23 yards. The outing was Beckham's quietest of his career.
"It was just a battle," Rhodes said after the game. "I was making plays on the ball when it was my turn. Just following Odell and doing the best I can."
Partway through the third quarter, Rhodes snagged his first of five interceptions during the 2016 season. Manning floated a pass intended for Beckham, and Rhodes caught the ball in stride, turned a corner and returned it 29 yards to set the Vikings up for a field goal. The electric atmosphere inside U.S. Bank Stadium intensified when Rhodes created the turnover, and the energy didn't let up for the remainder of the game.
In addition to Rhodes, Newman also helped stymie New York's passing attack. At the end of the night, the Giants top three receivers – Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepherd – combined for just 12 catches and 103 yards receiving.