Vikings secondary struggles in loss to Giants

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 22, 2013 - 1:02 AM

Sherels’ miscues became New York’s fortuitous freebies.

Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford took out tight end Bear Pascoe’s legs in the first quarter, but the secondary missed out on pivotal takeaways.

Photo: McKENNA EWEN • mckenna.ewen@startribune.com,

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– Eli Manning threw two interceptions, but the Vikings secondary threw both of them back.

So scratch what should have been a gritty effort by an overmatched secondary whose best player, safety Harrison Smith, is out indefinitely because of a turf toe injury.

Scratch what would have been a first-possession drive-stopper by Smith’s replacement, Andrew Sendejo, and what could have been a go-ahead third-quarter pick-six for backup nickelback Marcus Sherels. In their place, give the Giants a first-quarter field goal — capping a 9-minute, 36-second opening drive — a backbreaking third-quarter touchdown that came three snaps after Sherels dropped his interception at midfield and, oh yeah, their first win of the season, a 23-7 rout at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

Making Sherels’ drop even worse was the fact he fumbled away a punt at his 3 on the ensuing snap. So what should have been a game-turning interception and TD after a perfect read while covering Victor Cruz on third-and-10 became a 17-7 deficit when Giants running back Peyton Hillis scored from a yard out three snaps later, with 8:37 left in the third quarter.

Manning came into the game with a league-high 17 turnovers, including 15 interceptions. The Giants were a league-worst minus-16 in turnover margin.

Manning seemed determined to increase both numbers. On the 12th play of the Giants’ 17-play game-opening drive, he threw a ball over the middle. Tight end Larry Donnell fell, leaving Sendejo wide open for what should have been his first career interception in just his second start. But unlike the ball-hawking Smith, who has five pickoffs in 22 NFL games, the undrafted third-year pro dropped the ball. Literally.

Four plays later, Hakeem Nicks beat rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes and was wide open in the end zone. But Manning, who was off early in the game, overthrew what should have been a pitch-and-catch 16-yard TD on third-and-3. The Giants settled for a 35-yard field goal.

On the Giants’ third series, Manning gave the Vikings secondary another gift when he overthrew Hillis, who had plenty of room to run on third-and-9.

But after a Vikings three-and-out, Rhodes returned the favor with a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Nicks. One play later, Manning regained the sharpness that’s helped him win two Super Bowl MVPs when he connected with Rueben Randle for a 24-yard touchdown. Cornerback Chris Cook was near Randle, but couldn’t make a play on the ball, as was the case too many times for the Vikings secondary.

Sherels had a chance to erase everything when he got the jump on Cruz on an out pass to the left sideline with 9:30 left in the third quarter and the Vikings trailing 10-7. It was Sherels’ chance to add an interception return for a touchdown to the 86-yard punt return for a touchdown that he had earlier in the game.

For the first time this season, the Giants didn’t allow a team to score at least 27 points. Manning also didn’t play particularly well, completing 23 of 39 passes for 200 yards.

But the Giants did win the turnover battle, 3-1, for the first time this season. And for that, the Vikings can blame only a secondary that was all thumbs Monday night.

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Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 1 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 7
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: A. Caminero 2
NY Yankees - LP: C. Sabathia 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: A. Simon 2
Cincinnati - WP: A. DeSclafani 6 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 1
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Robertson 4
Minnesota - LP: K. Gibson 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: E. Volquez 7
San Diego 14 Bottom 8th Inning
Colorado 2
Oakland 4 Top 4th Inning
LA Angels 3
Houston 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Seattle 2
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Chicago 91
New Orleans 39 2nd Qtr 6:25
Golden State 32
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Minnesota 3
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd 15:51
Winnipeg 4
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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