EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Nov. 13, 2005) -- The Minnesota Vikings reversed two negative trends despite having their worst offensive day of the season.
The Vikings became the first team in NFL history to return a punt, kickoff and interception for touchdowns, then their offense came to life long enough to set up kicker Paul Edinger 's 48-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in a 24-21 win over the New York Giants.
"I'm glad the guys figured out that we can win the game on defense and on special teams," said coach Mike Tice. "Maybe we can figure out ... and start winning on the road, because that's what it takes in this league to win on the road - you have to play really well on defense and really well on special teams."
Safety Darren Sharper had three interceptions for the Vikings, including one he returned for a 92-yard touchdown in the second quarter. On special teams, Koren Robinson returned the second-half kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and teammate Mewelde Moore ran a punt back 71 yards for a score later in the quarter.
"We had a plan where we were going to bait him into calling certain things and then move," said Tice. "When we did that, we had to be where we were supposed to be when the ball was snapped. And we've had a problem with that this year. But we didn't seem to have too many problems with that today."
Manning drove the Giants deep into Vikings' territory in the second quarter when he threw for Plaxico Burress near the goal line. Sharper stepped in front, grabbed the pass and took off down the right sideline, chased by Manning, who appeared to have a beat on him before Sharper cut back across the field.
"He had an angle and I saw him with his head down, running, and I thought, 'He's not even looking at me,' so I went ahead and cut back," Sharper said.
Minnesota appeared to have the game in hand when Sharper intercepted Manning for a third time with 3:48 left and the Vikings leading 21-13. But the Giants got the ball back and drove 67 yards, tying the game with 1:21 left on a 3-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion run by Tiki Barber.
Brad Johnson (17-for-30 for 144 yards) then drove the Vikings 42 yards in eight plays, completing four passes in the drive to set up Edinger, who had missed earlier from 40 and 32 yards.
"Koren Robinson came up to me and said, 'Special teams, let's go,' which was kind of the right words for this game," said Edinger. "You want to be perfect, and I wasn't today, but I came through when it counted and our offense pulled through at the end and put us in position to get a win."
The Vikings had their worst offensive performance of the season with 137 total yards, and were held to 6 yards in the first half. But the Giants couldn't capitalize despite racking up 405 yards of offense. In addition to Manning's four interceptions, Willie Ponder fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Giants were penalized nine times for 75 yards.
"It was a very poor performance by our team," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "We fumbled the opening kickoff, had a punt returned against us for a touchdown, a kickoff returned, an interception when we were knocking on the goal line. It's beyond belief that we would play that poorly."
* Sharper now has five interceptions this season.
* Manning's 23-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer in the third quarter gave him 10 straight games with a TD pass, the longest active streak in the league
* The Giants' defense still has not allowed a touchdown since early in the third quarter against Denver on Oct. 23, a span of 208 minutes, 26 seconds, or nearly 14 quarters.
* Tice said he suffered a sprained or torn MCL when he got knocked over on the sideline during the game. "Fourteen years in the league and I never hurt my knee," he said with a chuckle. "I guess I was turning and yelling at somebody."
* Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who made his fortune in real estate in New Jersey before buying the team, was given the game ball by the team.