EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants converted two special teams turnovers by the Minnesota Vikings into 10 second-half points en route to a 23-7 win Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants (1-6) earned their first victory of the season, leaving the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the last winless teams in the NFL.
Minnesota (1-5) scored its only points on an 86-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels in the first quarter.
The Giants’ punt coverage team, which had a forgettable first half thanks to Sherels’ touchdown, came up with the first of its two game-turning plays early in the third quarter.
Sherels returned a punt to his 13-yard line before fumbling it away to Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie, who recovered the ball at the Vikings 3-yard line.
Two plays later, Peyton Hillis’ 1-yard touchdown run gave the Giants a 17-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Brown’s short kickoff was fielded by Minnesota defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, who was stripped by Damontre Moore. The ball was recovered by Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams at the Minnesota 18. That set up Brown’s third field goal of the game, a 36-yarder that capped the scoring.
The Giants’ defense not only kept the Vikings’ offense off the scoreboard, but it also provided two big plays in the third quarter. Safety Antrel Rolle intercepted a pass by Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman, and defensive end Justin Tuck had a 14-yard sack that knocked the Vikings out of field-goal range.
Freeman finished his first game as a Viking completing just 38 percent of his passes (20 of 52) for 190 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The New York defense also did a number on two of the Vikings’ biggest play-makers. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was held to 28 yards on 13 carries, while receiver Jerome Simpson finished with 32 yards on three receptions.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 23 of 39 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown.
Manning connected with receiver Rueben Randle on a 24-yard strike with 9:33 left in the second quarter, and the Giants held a 10-7 halftime lead. It marked the first time New York was on top at the break this season.
The Giants, who came into the night having led for all of 2:42 during their first six games, got on the board first thanks to Brown’s 35-yard field goal late in the opening quarter. It was Brown’s first successful kick since Week 2.
The lead lasted all of 4:38, as the Giants’ punt coverage team gave up its third return for a touchdown this season. Sherels scored with 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
New York regained the lead after a seven-play, 82-yard scoring drive on the ensuing possession and held the Vikings for the rest of the first half. Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh’s 53-yard field-goal attempt, which would have tied the game, fell short of the crossbar with 6:25 to go in the second quarter.
NOTES: The Vikings have not won a Monday night game since Oct. 5, 2009, when they defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-23. … Sherels’ punt return was the third longest in Vikings history and the longest since Nate Burleson’s 91-yarder in 2004. Sherels also set a franchise single-game record with 119 yards on four returns, topping the club’s previous high of 107 yards set by Charlie West on Nov. 3, 1968 … Giants rookie Michael Cox was announced as the starting running back, but veteran Peyton Hillis received the first snaps of the game on offense. RB Brandon Jacobs was inactive due to a hamstring strain. … Giants C David Baas, who returned to the lineup after a three-week absence caused by a neck injury, left the game after New York’s opening series with a left knee injury. … Walsh’s 53-yard miss was his second unsuccessful field-goal try of the season and his first miss from 50 or more yards.