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Freeman struggles as Vikings lose to Giants

Josh Freeman appears to need more practice during his first start as Vikings quarterback.

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Josh Freeman appears to need more practice during his first start as Vikings quarterback.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Josh Freeman's first game with the Vikings went no better than his last three with the Bucs.

Starting for Minnesota two weeks after he was released by Tampa Bay, Freeman went 20-for-53 for 190 yards and an interception in a 23-7 loss to the Giants on Monday night.

Freeman, the Bucs' 2009 first-round pick, saw his career in Tampa Bay come to a messy and controversial end. He signed with the Vikings on Oct. 8 and got the starting nod over Matt Cassel, who had started the past two games for Minnesota, and Christian Ponder, who was a healthy scratch.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vikings opted to lean heavily on their rusty QB rather than pit MVP running back Adrian Peterson against the Giants' 26th-ranked rushing defense.

Freeman completed 37.7 percent of his passes, the lowest mark for any quarterback throwing 40 passes since the Giants' Eli Manning in 2007. According to espn.com, Freeman overthrew 16 receivers, most by any QB since the start of the 2006 season.

The Giants got their first win of the season by holding Peterson in check and cashing in on the Vikings' mistakes.

"I sure am happy about winning,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's like, oh, this is what it feels like.''

The Giants began the season with six losses in which they were the team turning over the ball (minus-16) while showing little penchant for playing defense. But against the Vikings, they were efficient enough, if not overwhelming, and had three takeaways to one lost fumble.

"The players and coaches have great pride in what we're doing," Manning said. "We just had to keep going, get rid of some of the mistakes, and play the way we need to play."

Peterson was held to 28 yards five days after his 2-year-old son was buried in South Dakota. The man accused in the death was indicted on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, prosecutors said Monday.

Josh Brown kicked three field goals and Rueben Randle caught a 24-yard TD pass for New York.

Marcus Sherels provided Minnesota's points with an 86-yard punt return, but his fumble without being hit during a runback midway in the third quarter set up New York at the Vikings 3.

Peyton Hillis, signed Wednesday with the Giants in dire need of running backs, surged in from the 1 for a 17-7 lead, New York's biggest in 2013.

The lead grew on Brown's 23-yard field goal to finish off a 16-play, 75-yard drive, and to 23-7 on his 36-yarder. Another Vikings mistake handed those points to the Giants: Rookie and former Gator Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle, fumbled at Minnesota's 18 while returning a short kickoff.

The Giants controlled the ball for most of the opening quarter and led 3-0 when Sherels broke his punt return, the third against the Giants this season. He sped down the left sideline virtually untouched then twice faked out punter Steve Weatherford. Weatherford brought him down in the end zone with a horse-collar tackle.

Minnesota had a total of 8 yards on punt runbacks heading into Monday night. But Sherels set a team mark with 119.

Before Sherels' sprint, New York had gone 17 plays and used up the first 9:36, but bogged down at the 16 and Brown made a 35-yard field goal.

One play after Minnesota rookie's Xavier Rhodes' 23-yard pass interference penalty, Manning threw to a leaping Randle in the left corner of the end zone.

Freeman struggles as Vikings lose to Giants 10/21/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:46am]

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