Vik­ings frus­trate Beck­ham, Gi­ants

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dave Camp­bell The As­so­ci­ated Press

Odell Beck­ham Jr. and the po­tent New York Gi­ants pass­ing at­tack never found a rhythm on another frus­trat­ing night for the volatile wide re­ceiver.

The Min­nesota Vik­ings have been mak­ing a habit of send­ing the op­po­nent home un­happy.

Mys­ti­fy­ing Eli Man­ning yet again, hold­ing Beck­ham to a ca­reer-low 23 yards on three catches and turn­ing two turnovers into 10 points, the Vik­ings stayed un­beaten with a 24-10 vic­tory Mon­day over the Gi­ants.

“We feel like we’ve got one of the best units in the game,” cor­ner­back Cap­tain Mun­ner­lyn said. “We’ve just got to keep work­ing. Our coaches do a great job of putting in a great game plan, and we just go out there and cover the guys up. Ev­ery­body on this de­fense wants to be great.”

The Vik­ings (4-0) didn’t record a sack af­ter get­ting 13 over the past two games, but they were so tight in cov­er­age and sound against the run that the Gi­ants only con­verted 2 of 12 third downs. Sec­ond in the NFL with 12.5 points al­lowed per con­test, the Vik­ings have con­quered quar­ter­backs Aaron Rodgers, Cam New­ton and Man­ning in con­sec­u­tive games — the last two league MVP award win­ners and a two-time Su­per Bowl cham­pion. They’re 6-2 against Man­ning in his ca­reer.

Coach Mike Zimmer was con­cerned about Beck­ham, Vic­tor Cruz and Sterling Shep­ard, as dan­ger­ous a trio of pass-catch­ers as there is in the NFL, so the Vik­ings didn’t blitz the Gi­ants (2-2) nearly as much as they did Rodgers’ Pack­ers or New­ton’s Pan­thers.

“It just shows our ver­sa­til­ity,” line­backer Anthony Barr said.

Sam Brad­ford threw a touch­down pass to tight end Kyle Ru­dolph for the third straight game and kept his turnover-free streak since join­ing the Vik­ings in­tact,

and Matt Asi­ata and Jer­ick McKin­non each ran for a touch­down as part of a sea­son-high 104 yards rush­ing for the team. Brad­ford was 26 of 36 for 262 yards pass­ing, thriv­ing with quick-re­lease throws be­hind an of­fen­sive line that pro­tected bet­ter than it had in any of the pre­vi­ous three games.

Start­ing 4-0 for the first time since 2009, the Vik­ings joined Philadel­phia and Den­ver as the league’s only re­main­ing un­de­feated teams. “We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re not hand­ing out any medals tonight,” Zimmer said. “The at­ti­tude of this team, they like to work. It’s good, and they ac­tu­ally tell me I’m get­ting soft some­times.”

Re­ally? “Yeah, they do,” Zimmer said. “They tell me all the time, ‘What are you do­ing? How come we’re not in pads to­day?”’ Here are the top take­aways from the game:

RHODES CLOSED

Beck­ham, who has yet to score this sea­son dur­ing the long­est touch­down-less streak of his three-year ca­reer, was smoth­ered by cor­ner­back Xavier Rhodes. Beck­ham wasn’t nearly as agitated as he was the week be­fore in his much-scru­ti­nized matchup with Wash­ing­ton cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man, but he picked up an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty af­ter he and Rhodes bumped and jawed at each other out of bounds fol­low­ing a short catch in the sec­ond quar­ter. “I’ve just got to know it’s all against me. It’s go­ing to be that way. I have to as­sume that I’m al­ways in the wrong no mat­ter what,” Beck­ham said. “That’s some­thing, it’s a tough pill to swal­low, but you have to un­der­stand it. You have to be able to cope with it and just keep it mov­ing.” Man­ning ex­pressed more con­cern about his star re­ceiver’s be­hav­ior than he had be­fore. “He’s got to be aware,” Man­ning said.

“They’re look­ing for him, and he’s got to play smart. We can’t af­ford to do any­thing.”

KICK­ING CO­NUN­DRUM

Blair Walsh missed his third field goal try in four games this sea­son

for the Vik­ings, this one a 46-yarder that never re­ally had a chance. He has also missed two ex­tra points this year, and Zimmer has sounded more and more like he’s los­ing pa­tience with his kicker.

“We need to make those or it’s go­ing to bite us in the rear end,” the coach said. “Our team is play­ing close games. That’s how we’re built.”

Walsh did re­bound to hit a 44-yarder not long af­ter his miss, fol­low­ing an in­ter­cep­tion by Rhodes.

QUICK PASSES

The Vik­ings led the NFL with 15 sacks in the first three games, and the Gi­ants clearly pre­ferred a quick-pass at­tack to neu­tral­ize the rush. Man­ning wasn’t sacked, mostly pre­fer­ring to dump the ball off on short routes to re­ceivers on slants and backs in the flats. This is what the Vik­ings must ex­pect now.

“You look around the league, and there’s fran­chise quar­ter­backs out there, man,” Mun­ner­lyn said. “You don’t want to get those guys hurt. They’re the money men. So you try to pro­tect them and get rid of the ball real fast, and we just got to cover them up.”

STRUG­GLING SEC­ONDARY

The Gi­ants’ sec­ondary is de­pleted by in­juries. Trevin Wade had trou­ble all game start­ing at cor­ner­back for Do­minique Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie. Wade was beaten by Charles John­son for re­cep­tions of 30 and 40 yards, had a pass in­ter­fer­ence penalty on Ru­dolph and got away with one on an early in­com­ple­tion to Adam Thie­len.

RECIPE FOR TROU­BLE

The Gi­ants have a mi­nus-8 turnover mar­gin at the quar­ter mark of the sea­son. Af­ter be­ing pe­nal­ized 11 times for 128 yards in a loss to Wash­ing­ton last week, they were flagged eight times for 69 yards in this game.

On­line: AP NFL web­site: http://www.pro32. ap.org and AP NFL cov­er­age on Twit­ter: http://www.twit­ter.com/ AP—NFL. Fol­low Dave Camp­bell on Twit­ter: http://www.twit­ter.com/ DaveCamp­bel­lAP

JIM MONE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Min­nesota Vik­ings run­ning back Matt Asi­ata (44) dives for ex­tra yardage be­tween New York Gi­ants de­fend­ers Trevin Wade, left, and Jonathan Casil­las (52) dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game, Mon­day in Minneapolis.

ANDY CLAY­TON-KING — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Gi­ants wide re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham au­to­graphs his jer­sey afar an NFL foot­ball game against the Min­nesota Vik­ings Mon­day in Minneapolis. The Vik­ings won 24-10.

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