During the offseason, an ESPN executive sat down with the Week 7 slate. After NBC snagged the obvious Denver-Indy game, the executive pointed to Vikings-Giants, and decided That's the game we want to show to a national audience. It seemed like a good idea at the time; the Vikings were a playoff team last year, the Giants perennial contenders. What we got was one of the most unattractive games in Monday Night Football's storied history.
The teams' combined winning percentage of .091 made it the single losingest MNF matchup ever this late in the season. Perhaps, somehow, these teams aren't even as good as their records suggested. Josh Freeman was getting his first start for Minnesota, two weeks after being rescued from Tampa. New York's ground game consisted of rookie Michael Cox and scrap-heap signing Peyton Hillis, neither of whom had played a snap this year. The Giants won, because someone had to.
The game saw five fumbles, only three of them lost. There was one interception, and countless more misthrown balls that should have been picked off. The Giants allowed a punt return for a touchdown, somehow committing two penalties on the way. The night provided us with the ultimate Giants gif, which will surely be appropriate many times in the coming weeks and months.
But none of it really mattered because of how awful Josh Freeman was. Just stupendously, historically, Ponder-nostalgia-inducingly, Greg-Schiano-justifyingly putrid. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Freeman overthrew 16 of his 53 attempts last night, the most since they started keeping track in 2006.
The number that stands out there is the 53 passes. "I don’t know if one guy can save your season," Leslie Frazier warned before the game. This is a team with a quarterback with confidence issues, and the most talented running back in the sport. So what did the Vikings do? They threw, and kept throwing.
A whopping 78 percent of plays, or nearly four out of every five, was designed to be a pass. Adrian Peterson received just 13 carries. The Giants, with a moribund pass rush and a depleted secondary, quickly stopped worrying about stacking the box and were able to create constant pressure on Freeman (look at his footwork in the photo up top) and his receivers.
Frazier said he never considered benching Freeman, even as ESPN's announcers openly campaigned for it. But what's the point? Christian Ponder had more games and looked nearly as bad. Matt Cassel got Minnesota its only win of season, a squeaker over the then-winless Steelers, than had the single worst game of the three in his next start. No, consider this a lost season, start whoever the fuck at QB, and play out the string. It doesn't matter. None of this matters.
Let us never speak of this game again.