Vikings catch Manning at low point

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2013 - 12:45 PM

Eli Manning, owner of bottom-rung stats for an 0-6 team, faces a nationally televised gut check.

In a 32-team league, Eli Manning and Josh Freeman are the 33rd- and 34th-ranked quarterbacks, respectively.

Manning’s Giants are winless and wallowing among the bottom three in points scored, points allowed, interceptions thrown, sacks, rushing, first downs allowed, third-down defense, net punting and punt return average.

Meanwhile, Freeman’s new team, the one-win Vikings, are in the bottom three in points allowed, total defense, first downs allowed, third-down defense, punt return average and kickoff return average allowed.

Oooh, boy! Are you ready for some football?

Probably not. But the Vikings (1-4) and Giants (0-6) will play anyway in a game ESPN presumably didn’t have in mind in 2011 when it forked over $1.8 billion — or $105 million a game — for the rights to broadcast “Monday Night Football” through 2021.

Yes, the reports are true. With a combined winning percentage of .091, this officially is the worst matchup this late in the season in the 44 seasons of “Monday Night Football.”

It’s also, however, a chance for the Vikings to pull off the unlikely, if not the unthinkable: win a Monday night road game with a starting quarterback who has been on the roster for 14 days, including only four practices with the first-team offense.

How is this possible? Fair or not, it comes down to the No. 1 question facing the Giants: What in the heck is wrong with Eli Manning?

A season of giving — away

Yes, the Giants have only seven takeaways and have given up 30 or more points in an NFL-record five consecutive games. But the offense has been force-feeding points to the other team with a league-high 23 turnovers, eight more than the league’s next-highest total and two more than the Giants had all last season. Manning has 17 turnovers, including an NFL-high 15 interceptions, matching his total for all of last season. Two picks have been returned for touchdowns.

“Oh yeah, [Manning’s 15 interceptions] is very exciting,” Vikings cornerback Chris Cook said. “Hopefully he’ll come in and throw us a few.”

Cook has played 27 NFL games. His next interception will be his first interception. But this is a matchup that allows both sides to dream big, no matter where they stand.

It’s a game that features the 30th-ranked scoring team — Giants, 17.2 points per game — vs. the 30th-ranked scoring defense — Vikings, 31.6 points allowed per game.

It’s a game that features Manning’s 64.0 passer rating and 53.7 completion percentage against a Vikings pass defense that’s allowing quarterbacks to complete 66.7 percent for a 95.7 passer rating.

It’s also a game that features a struggling Vikings offensive line that could be without left tackle Matt Kalil because of a back injury against a Giants pass rush that ranks last in the league in sacks with five. That has to bring a smile to Freeman, who was completing 45.7 percent of his passes with a 59.3 rating before his messy divorce in Tampa Bay was finalized with his benching and Oct. 3 release.

While Freeman is making his Vikings debut, Manning will be making his NFL-leading 142nd regular-season start with the Giants. He has a 78-63 record, two Super Bowl rings from the 2007 and 2011 seasons, and two Super Bowl MVPs, one more than older brother Peyton who, going into Sunday night’s game against the Colts, was 6-0 and leading the league in rating (128.8), touchdowns (22), yards (2,179), completion percentage (74.2), average per attempt (9.08) and, well, every other meaningful category.

Group-stink

So, again, what the heck is wrong with Eli Manning?

“Eli is being blamed far and away too much for the interceptions,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday in a conference call with Twin Cities media. “It’s a team concept, and you do need to be properly protected. We’ve also had some communication breakdowns.

“There’s some growing pains here with some different people involved and some people that really didn’t get the offseason that we would have hoped.”

Coughlin was referring to the Giants’ top two receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Both skipped the Giants’ voluntary offseason practices. Cruz also skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp in a contract squabble before signing his tender and a five-year, $43 million deal.

“[Missing practices] is always going to be a factor” in the turnovers, Coughlin said. “You’d like to say that training camp is a long period of opportunity, but in fact, in this day and age, it isn’t. You do have to think of your OTAs and that type of thing as precious opportunities for people to get on the same page, communicate, do things well. When it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t help you.

“Right now, we’re careless with the football, and that strikes right at my gut, because that’s, quite frankly, one of the things that we preach about the most.”

Manning, meanwhile, downplayed the missed practices, saying it hasn’t “been a huge issue.” Cruz leads the team with 35 catches for 541 yards (15.5) and four touchdowns, while Nicks is second with 25 catches for 442 yards (17.7) and no touchdowns.

Eli’s still the guy

Coughlin was asked on the conference call whether he’s considered benching Manning. He reacted as if someone had asked if he’s considered sticking a fork in his eye.

“If I hear you right,” said Coughlin, “that hasn’t crossed my mind at all.” Later, Coughlin said, “It’s always the head coach and the quarterback. I say I’m responsible, put it on my shoulders, I’m the head coach.”

Manning, who has started every Giants game since Week 9 of his rookie season in 2004, said he hasn’t worried about being benched. And he said it’s not because he feels entitled having won two Super Bowl MVPs.

“You never earn anything to be above anything in this league,” Manning said. “It’s always a case of what have you done for me lately. I have high expectations for myself and expect to bring a contender every year and try to win championships and make playoffs and play at a high level. So this is a tough situation.

“But we’re going to fight through it. Our thought is we’re three games back in the [NFC East] with 10 to go. There’s a lot of football to be played. We have to get that first win, and you hate to be saying that in Week 7.”

The Vikings don’t feel much better about themselves. They are 2½ games back in the NFC North with 11 games to go. And a lot of defensive players without Super Bowl rings weren’t willing to rile a two-time champion quarterback when asked, bluntly, “What the heck is wrong with Eli?”

“I got enough of my own problems to worry about,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “I think he’s a guy with two Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVPs. As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be too much wrong.

“He’s going to figure it out. He’s an elite quarterback. He’s going through a couple things, and his team is in a similar situation that we’re in. A must-win situation.”

  • related content

  • Video: Access Vikings: Freeman debuts tonight

    Monday October 21, 2013

    Josh Freeman, in his Vikings debut, will battle against Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

  • Souhan: Vikings, Giants bad teams that are highly watchable

    Monday October 21, 2013

    The worst thing that can come out of a bad season is uncertainty. The reward for finishing 8-8 is a mediocre draft pick and muddled thinking. Leslie Frazier and Josh...

  • Hartman: Giants, Vikings QBs are a statistical mess

    Sunday October 20, 2013

    Eli Manning has thrown an NFL-high 15 interceptions. Yet he’s ranked above Josh Freeman.

  • Injury issues surface for Vikings

    Sunday October 20, 2013

    Peterson and Kalil are key players who were listed on the team's injury report after midweek.

  • The Call: Giants 27, Vikings 21

    Sunday October 20, 2013

    One man’s prediction: Another week, another starting quarterback for the Vikings. Josh Freeman will have a limited playbook to work...

  • Eli Manning has taken his lumps in the pocket this season, but the problems with the winless New York Giants go a lot further than the quarterback position.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 FINAL(OT)
San Jose 3
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 76
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 75 FINAL
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
UNLV 46
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against Miami?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close