Upon Further Review: Vikings rattle Giants, stay unbeaten
Heading into his 31st NFL game, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had never been held under 25 yards in a single game despite squaring off against a who's who of the league's best defensive backs.
Not by Richard Sherman, not by Darrelle Revis and not by nemesis Josh Norman.
Enter, Xavier Rhodes.
Rhodes and the Vikings' secondary dealt Beckham the worst game of his career, holding him to just three catches and 23 receiving yards while helping Minnesota to a 24-10 win over the Giants on Monday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Quarterback Sam Bradford was sharp in his third start -- connecting with Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph for another touchdown -- while running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata had their most effective game since Adrian Peterson was sidelined with a knee injury.
Here's a look at Monday's game:
SUNDAY SCHOOL (ON MONDAY)
-- Bradford threw for 262 yards and a touchdown, and has now outdueled Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning in consecutive weeks.
-- Bradford's 105.5 passer rating ranks No. 3 in the league through Week 4.
-- Monday's win was receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's most involved of the season. He was targeted six times in the passing game and made five catches for 36 yards, while playing a big role on special teams.
-- The Vikings were 3-for-3 in the red zone, converting with two rushing touchdowns and one passing score.
-- Blair Walsh missed wide left again, botching a 46-yard field-goal attempt before connecting from 44 yards out. He is now 8-for-11 on the season, and has missed two extra points.
-- Walsh's 73 percent success rate ranks 28th in the NFL.
-- Harrison Smith didn't show up on the score sheet, but led the Vikings with nine tackles, while Captain Munnerlyn and Eric Kendricks had eight.
-- Wide receiver Stefon Diggs made five catches on seven targets for 47 yards, the second consecutive game he has been held under 50 yards.
-- Bradford spread the ball around, completing passes to nine receivers, including tight ends MyCole Pruitt and Rhett Ellison.
-- The Vikings were held without a sack Monday, but so were the Giants. Their offensive line held together against an effective Giants defensive front, while the defense harassed Manning all night, forcing errant throws like the one Rhodes snapped up in the third quarter.
-- The Vikings' running game has been more effective in Peterson's absence. McKinnon and short-yardage back Matt Asiata combined for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. McKinnon led the Vikings with 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per-carry.
-- Charles Johnson had his best game of the season, hauling in a pair of deep throws for 30 and then 40 yards. His first catch led to a field-goal attempt while his second led to McKinnon's touchdown.
WHAT IT MEANT
For a fourth week in a row the Vikings defense looked like one of the league's best. The Giants' playmakers were held in check, while Manning looked rattled in the pocket. The Vikings have a clear path to 5-0 with a home matchup against the reeling Houston Texas on tap for next week. They'll look to get healthy over their bye week, before Bradford faces his former team -- the Carson Wentz-led Philadelphia Eagles -- on the road in a matchup that is suddenly among the most intriguing on the Vikings' schedule.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rhodes was seemingly unfazed by Beckham's famously volatile temper, nearly shutting down one of the NFL's top receivers. Rhodes hauled in one of the easiest interceptions of his career in the 3rd quarter with the Vikings blitzing. The fourth-year cornerback grabbed an overthrown pass intended for Beckham, setting up a Vikings field goal that made it 17-3.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
Patterson is making good on his offseason talk about improving as a pass-catcher. Monday's win was Patterson's most productive game as a receiver since Week 8 of 2014. He's also making a surprise impact on special teams. The former first-round pick once again entered the game as a gunner on special teams, and remains one of the league's most dangerous return specialists.
The Vikings set the tone early despite going three-and-out on their first offensive series of the game. Patterson and Sherels hooked up for a game-changing special teams play on the ensuing punt, harassing punt returner Dwayne Harris into a turnover and giving the offense possession on the Giants' 41 yard-line. Asiata eventually punched home a touchdown following another big play for Patterson and a pass interference call on the Giants.
23 -- receiving yards for Beckham, who finished with the lowest single-game output of his NFL career on Monday, as Rhodes, Newman and the rest of the Vikings secondary held the explosive receiver in check. It's the second consecutive week that the Vikings have shut down a star receiver, following Carolina Panthers target Kelvin Benjamin's dismal performance in Week 3.
THEY SAID IT
"It just shows our versatility. We can press you. We can play coverage, stop the run. On any given day, I think we're able to do it." -- Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on winning with a sack
"Well as long as I'm here, our expectations are never going to change, number one. It doesn't matter who is playing; we expect them to perform." -- Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on winning without Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater
"Every time my number is called I get excited, no matter if it's on offense, special teams, going out there and just trying to help my team get a win and do whatever I can to help." -- Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson
"They have a good defense. They had a good scheme. They took away a lot of our passing game. Have to give them credit, they had a good plan and they play good football." -- Giants quarterback Eli Manning on the Vikings' defense
The Vikings are one of just three undefeated teams remaining in the NFL at 4-0. They face the 3-1 Houston Texas in Week 5. The Texans eked out a 27-20 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 4 after losing defensive end J.J. Watt for the season, just a week after being shut out by the New England Patriots.