The Minnesota Vikings continued their improbable unbeaten start to the season despite the loss of stars Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil with a 24-10 win over the New York Giants Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Giants, coming off a painful loss in Week 3 to the Washington Redskins, struggled to muster sustainable drives against a Vikings defense that spent two consecutive weeks shutting down reigning MVPs in Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton.
Eli Manning was not spared as the Vikings forced two turnovers and frustrated star Odell Beckham Jr., who may have created another rival in cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Beckham was flagged in the second quarter for taunting Rhodes after the wideout believed he was hit late out of bounds. The penalty stalled the Giants' drive and led to their fifth consecutive failed third-down attempt.
Things did not get better after half-time as Beckham dropped his first target in the third quarter and, two plays later, ran the wrong route resulting in an interception by Rhodes. Beckham was held without a catch in the second half, finishing with three receptions for 23 yards. He has failed to reach the end zone in four games this season, the longest stretch of his career.
The Giants finally got ticking in the fourth quarter after a 67-yard screen pass to running back Paul Perkins set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Orleans Darkwa, who was making the start with injuries to Rashad Jennings (thumb) and Shane Vereen (triceps). The score cut Minnesota's lead to 17-10.
Any momentum the Giants created was quickly erased as Sam Bradford led a 76-yard touchdown drive that ended in a 4-yard run by Jerick McKinnon to put Minnesota ahead 24-10.
Matt Asiata put the Vikings on the board first with a 1-yard rushing touchdown as Minnesota capitalized on a muffed punt by Dwayne Harris.
Kyle Rudolph caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Rudolph, a 2012 Pro Bowler, has now caught a touchdown in three consecutive games.
RHODES TO VICTORY
Rhodes, the catalyst for shutting down the Giants' passing attack, took advantage of an overthrow by Manning for an interception in the third quarter.
BOOK OF SAM
Bradford has continued to impress since his preseason trade to the Vikings. He completed 26 of 36 passes on Monday for 262 yards and a score, and has yet to throw an interception this season in 95 attempts.
IN BECKHAM'S HEAD
"He's a competitor. He likes to fight, he likes to get in other people's heads," Rhodes said of his impression of Beckham. "At first he was cool, but he tried to get me rattled up but I know his game. Watching him on film, we knew he can make big plays in previous weeks and our defense was able to get pressure on the quarterback and making him make tough throws."
The Vikings' defense leads the NFL in turnover margin at plus-10, having forced a total of 11 turnovers. The team also forced two turnovers on downs on Monday as Manning finished with 261 yards passing and a dismal 63.3 QB rating.
Minnesota will look to move to 5-0 Sunday at home against the Texans, while the Giants face the Packers in another primetime game Sunday night.