EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants got their first win of the season Monday night by holding Adrian Peterson in check and converting Minnesota mistakes into a 23-7 victory.
The Giants began the season with six losses in which they were the team turning over the ball and showing little penchant for playing defense. But against the Vikings (1-5), they were efficient enough, if not overwhelming, and had three takeaways.
Peterson, the league’s MVP last season, was held to 28 yards rushing five days after his 2-year-old son was buried in South Dakota. The man accused in the death was indicted on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges Monday.
Peterson was not aided by a rusty Josh Freeman, making his debut as Vikings quarterback.
Josh Brown kicked three field goals, Rueben Randle caught a 24-yard TD pass, and Peyton Hills ran for a TD for New York (1-6).
The Giants led 17-7 at the end of the third quarter. The 10-point lead was the largest of the season for the Giants.
A Hillis 1-yard touchdown run was set up when Zak DeOssie recovered a fumble by Marcu Sherels on a punt return at the Minnesota 3. Sherels had slipped on the return and the ball came loose when he hit the ground. Since he was not touched by a New York player it was a fumble. Hillis scored two plays later.
It was the second big mistake by Minnesota. Freeman was intercepted by Antrel Rolle early in the quarter after Minnesota recovered a fumble by Randle on a punt return at the New York 31.
The Giants had taken their first halftime lead of the season when Eli Manning threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randle in the second quarter.
It was Randle’s fourth TD in the last three games, and this one capped a seven-play, 82-yard march that was aided by a 23-yard pass interference call against cornerback Chris Cook.
New York, which had allowed a league-high 209 points, limited Minnesota and Freeman to 113 total yards in the half. Adrian Peterson had 26 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The Vikings had a chance to tie the game on the ensuing series but Blair Walsh was just short on a 53-yard field goal. It was the first time in 15 field goal attempts that a Giants’ opponent missed the kick.
Minnesota had taken a 7-3 lead in the final minute of the first quarter on an 86-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels, the third against the Giants this season.
Until that point, the Vikings had only six plays from scrimmage in an opening quarter dominated by the Giants, but the big punt return put them ahead.