EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Just under a year ago, the New York Giants came to the Metrodome for what seems to be a yearly game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The playoff-bound Vikings drilled the fading Giants, delivering a 44-7 thumping that got Brett Favre and the purple back on the right track after a couple of disappointing performances.
The rematch is Sunday at the Metrodome, the roles have been reversed, and the Giants are still smarting from their worst loss since 2003.
“Let’s just say we haven’t forgotten what happened there,” Giants guard Chris Snee said. “I’ll just leave it at that. We know what the final score was and we know what happened in there. It’s already been talked about. Let’s leave it at that.”
The Vikings were up 37-0 in the third quarter against a Giants team that was missing five of its regular players because of injury. Even with the big lead, then-coach Brad Childress left the offense on the field on fourth-and-goal from the 1 for one more touchdown to make it 44-0.
“It sticks in my belly,” said running back Brandon Jacobs, who missed that game with a knee injury. “I watched that one from home. It was a terrible thing to look at. I actually turned it off and took my son to the circus, so I got little joy out of that day.”
Flash forward a year later and the Vikings (5-7) are the injury-plagued team on the outside of the playoff picture while the Giants (8-4) are trying to build some more momentum for the postseason push.
Favre is a question mark with a sprained SC joint in his throwing shoulder, an injury that threatens to end his record for consecutive regular season starts at 297. Percy Harvin missed the game last Sunday with migraines and the symptoms lingered into this week.
Favre still hasn’t been able to throw a proper pass in practice, and the Minnesota Vikings still haven’t given up hope their quarterback will extend his NFL record for consecutive starts against the Giants.
Favre did minimal work in practice Friday for the first time all week, making a few soft tosses to test out the sprained SC joint in his throwing shoulder. He is listed as questionable on the injury report and will be a game-time decision on whether he will make his 298th straight regular-season start.
All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson is trying to play with a broken right thumb, Adrian Peterson has a sore right ankle and his backup, Toby Gerhart, has a hamstring injury.
“It has been a tough year but it’s all part of it,” Favre said of the injuries and losing. “I think that one thing that Leslie (Frazier) has talked about, so true, there’s only a few things you can control: you’re attitude and your effort. Everything else is just that, everything else. I try to control what I can control. I think in the end that’s the most important thing.”
Even though the Vikings have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season, the Giants are probably catching them at the worst time possible. They have looked like a different team in the last two weeks since owner Zygi Wilf fired Childress and picked Frazier to be the interim coach.
The Vikings beat the Redskins to end a nine-game road losing streak in Frazier’s first game, then pounded the Bills at home, 38-14, last week in their highest scoring game of the season.
“What I’m impressed about is the response from the team and how they respond to his coaching and to his way of doing things,” Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. “They all are falling into the system. They’re buying into the system and it’s working out.”
The Giants know all about what an interim coach can do to spark a team. They played the Cowboys in the game after Wade Phillips was fired and were bulldozed at home, 33-20.
“We have already seen how different a team can look after a new coach comes in and re-energizes their team,” defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. “I hope we learn from that example. This Minnesota team, even though they’re not in our division, we’ve seen them year in and year out since I’ve been here and they’ve beat us a couple times.”
The Vikings and Giants have played in the regular season each of the last four years, including three in a row at the Metrodome. Minnesota is 4-0 in those games.
Giants QB Eli Manning will make his 100th straight start, but is 0-4 with two TDs, nine interceptions and a career 47.8 quarterback rating against the Vikings.
“Hopefully this is a new year,” Manning said. “We’ve had to play them a number of times and hopefully we have them figured out a little bit and have a good plan and we can be in a good situation to go out there and play well.”
The Vikings know they need a lot of help to creep back into the playoff race, so instead they’re concentrating on finishing the season on a better note, both for themselves and for the well-respected Frazier, who is trying to prove himself deserving of the permanent job.
“I think we got a taste of some success,” Shiancoe said. “We tasted that blood. We’re like cannibals, man. We want more, man. We want more, more, more.”