The Giants headed to Minnesota with nothing to play for; they had already clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But the Vikings' postseason plans were contingent on any number of factors, although winning today would assure them of playing next week.
Heading into this game, coach Tom Coughlin was noncommittal on how long his starters would play, and as it turned out, the answer was 30 minutes. Manning finished the day 11 of 19 for 119 yards and, most importantly, he avoided injury. Even with the terrestrial Brandon Jacobs in civvies for the game, Wind and Fire ably carried the load. Derrick Ward rushed 15 times for 77 yards, and Bradshaw added 28 more yards on 10 carries,
While the Vikings were, in the words of former Jets visionary Herm Edwards, playing to win the game, that became moot when the Texans pulled ahead of the Bears in the fourth quarter. Heading into today, Chicago had to beat Houston and they needed New York to hold off Minnesota. Neither happened, and you can't even blame David Carr, who played the entire second half and mixed in a touchdown pass for good measure.
Going forward, the Giants will have a week off and could face, well, anybody. The Vikings will play the winner of Cowboys-Eagles game, and the Cardinals will host the Falcons. Conceivably, New York could face the fifth or sixth seed in two weeks given that Minnesota is still without a quarterback and Arizona is playing some pretty dreadful football.
Whatever happens, Jacobs will be healthy, which should go a long way in making Manning's job easier, even with Plaxico Burress done for the year.