EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For the first time this season, the New York Giants are going to be able to watch the videotapes of a game and have something to smile about.
Winning has its benefits, even after six straight losses to open a season.
Eli Manning threw a go-ahead touchdown to Rueben Randle in a rare mistake-free performance and the Giants shut down Adrian Peterson and forced three crucial second-half turnovers in posting a 23-7 victory over struggling Minnesota Vikings (1-5) on Monday night.
The win ended the Giants' worst start since a franchise-record 0-9 beginning in 1976, and it gave Tom Coughlin's team a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.
"We needed to get one on the board," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I told (general manager) Jerry Reese that I think we have a shovel to start digging our way out of this hole. Hopefully, tonight is something we can build off. It's still a long way to climb out of this hole. But this was something that we could get the ball rolling."
While the game wasn't perfect, the Giants did enough to win and avoided most of the mistakes that led to their disastrous start.
"This is what it is about," said safety Antrel Rolle, who made a big third-quarter interception after Minnesota recovered a fumble by Randle on a punt return at the Giants 31. "It's about getting back to having fun. Obviously, things have been a little tense around here with the 0-6 start but we never gave up on one another. We kept pushing each other and rooting each other on."
The defense was the key for New York. After giving up a league-high 209 points, it pitched a shutout. Minnesota was limited to 206 total yards, Peterson got 28 rushing on 13 carries and new quarterback Josh Freeman was under constant pressure, finishing 20 of 53 for 190 yards.