By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings had a lead after one quarter Monday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. That was as good as it got for the Vikings in a 23-7 loss.
Marcus Sherels provided the only highlight for the Vikings with an 86-yard punt return. He also provided one of the team’s lowlights with a fumble on a punt return. The Vikings turned the ball over twice on fumbled returns—one Sherels on a punt and the other by defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on a kick.
After that, the Giants (1-6) rattled off 20 straight points to pull away for blow out victory.
The Vikings (1-5) are quickly becoming one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Offense Grade: F
The Vikings seem to be the cure for whatever is ailing. The offense was especially inept. They failed to reach 200 yards before the final two minutes of the game.
The offensive line couldn’t open holes for Adrian Peterson and couldn’t give Josh Freeman time to throw. The quarterback failed to connect with open receivers, and the receivers failed to get open.
The entire offense never got into a rhythm and did not look good.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has taken a lot of criticism, but what happened Sunday was not his fault.
Defense Grade: D+
The Vikings defense strikes again with an abysmal performance. The Giants have really struggled this season, especially to protect the ball.
The Vikings did not force a fumble or intercept Eli Manning. Manning entered the game with a league-high 15 interceptions.
Andrew Sendejo dropped an interception opportunity on the opening drive of the game and the defense never got their hands close to catching another pass from Manning.
The defensive line never put a lot of pressure on Manning and got just two sacks against a team that had allowed 16 in six games.
The good news is that they allowed the Giants to cross the goal line twice, including once following a fumble inside their own five-yard line, and 257 total yards.
The bad news is that the Giants could have had a lot more yards if not for their own mistakes. Poor throws to wide open receivers and dropped passes and had two scoring drives that took 10 plays or more and lasted at least eight and a half minutes.
Jared Allen provided a highlight when he reached around offensive tackle Will Beatty and grabbed Manning by the jersey. Kevin Williams finished off the play for one of the more impressive sacks of the season.
Quarterback Grade: D
Freeman made his first start as a member of the Vikings. It was ugly.
The 24-year-old fourth-year veteran was off the mark to open receivers most of the game. He overshot or threw behind some wide open receivers that had room to run for extra yardage or may have scored. He completed 20-of-53 pass attempts and it was a good indication of his accuracy. He missed Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph six times each.
Whether it was first game jitters, a lack of chemistry with his teammates or a sign of what is to come, it could not have been worse for the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Matt Cassel was inactive and in street clothes while Christian Ponder was left on the bench as the backup. Both could only wonder what might have been if Freeman were given another week or two to develop some sort of rapport with his offensive line and receivers.
Special Teams Grade: C-
It was a mixed bag again for the special teams.
Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson provided several long returns and punter Jeff Locke averaged over 44 yards per punt, including a 56-yarder.
However, the unit also turned the ball over on fumbles twice and Blair Walsh missed from over 50 yards for the first time in his career. Walsh has been on the injury report for a few weeks because of a non-kicking leg hamstring injury. The injury must have been bothering him because his missed field goal attempt was short.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.