Final

Giants 19

(12-4, 5-3 away)

Vikings 20

(10-6, 6-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 28, 2008

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
NYG 0 9 7 319
MIN 0 10 0 1020

Top Performers

Passing: T. Jackson (MIN) - 239 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: A. Peterson (MIN) - 21 CAR, 103 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: B. Wade (MIN) - 4 REC, 98 YDS

Longwell's 50-yard FG wins it for Vikes

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New York Giants were already comfortably in the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings? There was nothing comfortable about their situation, let alone their entire season.

Fast Facts

• Ryan Longwell's 50-yard field goal won NFC North for Vikings as time expired. The Vikings won their division for first time since 2000. The Giants had their three-game win streak in Minnesota snapped and have lost three of four overall.

• Adrian Peterson rushed for 103 yards, his 10th 100-yard rushing game of the season.

• Derrick Ward topped 1,000 yards rushing, making him and Brandon Jacobs the fourth pair of teammates to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

• Bernard Berrian had a 54-yard touchdown catch, his third TD catch this season of 50-plus yards.

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

With plenty of practice in dealing with drama, the Vikings rallied past the resting Giants for a 20-19 victory on Sunday afternoon to qualify for the postseason for the first time in four years.

"They had to earn it, as it should be, and that makes it that much sweeter," coach Brad Childress said.

Ryan Longwell's 50-yard field goal as time expired gave Minnesota its first division title since 2000, rendering Chicago's game at Houston moot. The Bears lost to the Texans 31-24 anyway, but this was the way the Vikings (10-6) were determined to go in. They didn't want to back into their first NFC North crown since the league realigned six years ago.

"It wouldn't have felt the same if we won the division by default," Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson said.

Grand Accomplishment

Sunday, the Giants became just the fourth NFL team to have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. But that hasn't meant Super Bowl success in the past.

Team, Year 1,000-yard RBs Playoff result
2008 Giants Brandon Jacobs (1,089), Derrick Ward (1,025). No. 1 seed, NFC
1985 Browns Kevin Mack (1,104), Earnest Byner (1,002). Lost, AFC divisional round
1976 Steelers Franco Harris (1,128), Rocky Bleier (1,036). Lost, AFC Championship
1972 Dolphins Larry Csonka (1,117), Mercury Morris (1,000). Won, Super Bowl

Minnesota will host a first-round game next Sunday, against Philadelphia.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was benched after two losses to open the season, the offense struggled into October, star middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was lost for the season to a foot injury, and the Vikings took a 3-4 record into their bye week. But they rebounded by winning five of their final six games and despite last week's fumble-laden loss to Atlanta and Chicago's overtime win over Green Bay, they still had control of the tiebreaker -- and their fate.

The Giants (12-4) gave the Vikings a break well before the game started by beating Carolina last week to clinch the top seed and gain home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Derrick Ward, who fueled last week's win over the Panthers, gave the Giants a pair of 1,000-yard rushers -- only the fourth such running back tandem in NFL history -- by finishing with 77 yards on 15 carries. Brandon Jacobs got there earlier this month. The last set of teammates to do that in the same season was Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner of the Cleveland Browns in 1985.

They put four starters on the inactive list: Jacobs (knee), tight end Kevin Boss (ankle), cornerback Aaron Ross (concussion) and nose tackle Barry Cofield (knee). Quarterback Eli Manning was joined on the sideline by a steady stream of other regulars during the second half. When Jackson found a wide-open Bernard Berrian for a 54-yard touchdown pass to cut New York's lead to two points midway through the fourth quarter, it was a third-string cornerback -- Terrell Thomas -- who fell down trying to cover him.

Minnesota Vikings New York Giants

NFL.com Video

Watch highlights from the Minnesota Vikings' 20-19 win over the New York Giants.

"They're a very talented team, and we knew coming in they were going to give us everything they had," said Domenik Hixon, who caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from David Carr that gave the Giants a 16-10 edge in the third quarter.

Really, it was the Giants who gave the Vikings all they could handle despite a bunch of backups on the field and a clearly conservative offensive strategy in the second half.

"We always talk about improvement and how important improvement is. That's the way to improve right there, under game conditions," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Jackson threw his first interception in 13 quarters since taking over for Gus Frerotte, a zinger into the end zone that James Butler grabbed and returned to near midfield. John Carney's fourth field goal stretched the lead to 19-10 early in the fourth, but his fifth attempt from 48 yards was wide right with 3:17 left.

The Vikings then crawled through a frantic, unorganized final drive and got just close enough for Longwell to kick the winner.

"I think this game's going to build character and give us something to reflect back on," defensive end Jared Allen said.

Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo ordered a bevy of blitzes and kept Jackson from finding any room to run or get comfortable in the pocket. Adrian Peterson fumbled for the sixth time this month, but he made amends later in the first quarter with a 67-yard touchdown run that put the Vikings up 10-0.

Peterson finished with 103 yards on 21 carries and held off Atlanta's Michael Turner for the NFL rushing title. He also became the fifth player in league history to reach 3,000 yards in his first two years, joining Eric Dickerson (Rams), Edgerrin James (Colts), Earl Campbell (Oilers) and Clinton Portis (Broncos).

The victory, of course, was what he really wanted. He proudly put on a gray cap commemorating the division title as he left the interview room.

"It was rocky," Peterson said, "but we continued to fight.

Game notes


The Vikings gave up 135 yards rushing, hurting their chance to finish first in the league in run defense for the third straight season. ... Carr finished 8-for-11 for 110 yards and no turnovers. ... Vikings DE Ray Edwards hurt his left knee and will have an MRI on Monday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NY Giants
Minnesota
1st Downs1915
Passing 1st downs
1210
Rushing 1st downs
74
1st downs from penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
4-127-13
4th down efficiency
0-00-1
Total Plays00
Total Yards364349
Yards per play--
Total Drives--
Passing229239
Comp-Att
19-3016-26
Yards per pass
7.69.2
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-72-21
Rushing135110
Rushing Attempts
3027
Yards per rush
4.54.1
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Penalties7-492-20
Turnovers01
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
01
Possession34:1925:41

Passing Leaders

NYGC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTRAT.
Manning11/191196.30076.4
Carr8/1111010.010134.7
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTRAT.
Jackson16/262399.21188.5

Rushing Leaders

NYGCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ward15775.1013
Bradshaw10282.8010
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson211034.9167
Taylor4102.508

Receiving Leaders

NYGRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Hixon46215.51230
Johnson24422.00260
MINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Wade49824.50410
Berrian48120.31540

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERNYGMIN
minFG15:00Ryan Longwell 48 Yard Field Goal is Good03
minTD11:33Adrian Peterson 67 Yard Run (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)010
nygFG9:40John Carney 51 Yard Field Goal is Good310
nygFG1:07John Carney 30 Yard Field Goal is Good610
nygFG0:04John Carney 42 Yard Field Goal is Good910
THIRD QUARTERNYGMIN
nygTD9:34Domenik Hixon 23 Yard Pass From David Carr (John Carney Kick is Good)1610
FOURTH QUARTERNYGMIN
nygFG11:25John Carney 20 Yard Field Goal is Good1910
minTD9:35Bernard Berrian 54 Yard Pass From Tarvaris Jackson (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)1917
minFG0:05Ryan Longwell 50 Yard Field Goal is Good1920