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Vikings fall to Giants 23-7 on Monday Night Football

Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman looks to pass during the first half of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants. Bill Kostroun | Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Peyton Hillis scored on a 1-yard run two plays after a Minnesota turnover in the third quarter to give the New York Giants a 17-7 lead and the series lifted New York to a 23-7 victory over the Vikings Monday night.

The win was the first of the season for the Giants who had lost their first six games.

The touchdown was set up when Zak DeOssie recovered a fumble by Marcus Sherels on a punt return at the Minnesota 3. Sherels had slipped on the return and the ball came loose when he hit the ground. Since he was not touched by a defender it was a fumble.

It was the second big mistake by Minnesota (1-5). New quarterback Josh Freeman was intercepted by Antrel Rolle early in the third quarter after Minnesota recovered a fumble by Rueben Randle on a punt return at the New York 31.

The Giants had taken their first halftime lead of the season when Eli Manning threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randle in the second quarter. It was Randle’s fourth TD in the last three games, and this one capped a seven-play, 82-yard march that was aided by a 23-yard pass interference call against cornerback Chris Cook.

New York, which had allowed a league-high 209 points, limited Adrian Peterson to 26 yards rushing on 12 first half carries and only 27 yards on 13 runs for the game.

Freeman struggled in his Vikings debut, passing 53 times but completing only 21 of them.

The Vikings had a chance to tie the game on the ensuing series but Blair Walsh was just short on a 53-yard field goal. It was the first time in 15 field goal attempts that a Giants’ opponent missed the kick.

Minnesota had taken a 7-3 lead in the final minute of the first quarter on an 86-yard punt return by Sherels, the third against the Giants this season.

Until that point, the Vikings had only six plays from scrimmage in an opening quarter dominated by the Giants, but the big punt return put them ahead.

Sherels handled Steve Weatherford’s 51-yard punt at the 14, sidestepped the initial defender and then was seemingly untouched running down the left sideline in front of the Giants’ bench.

New York held the ball for 9:36 on its opening drive, before settling for a 35-yard field goal by Josh Brown. The 17-play, 68-yard drive came within inches of ending in a touchdown, but Manning’s pass from the 16-yard line went off the fingertips of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.