MINNEAPOLIS — No matter how Monday night unfolded, it was going to expose the New York Giants. They were playing against a good team, a dominant defense, in a raucous atmosphere in prime time.
If the Giants and their $200-million-plus offseason investment wilted, like they had in these spots each of the previous four seasons, it would serve as a sign that they probably weren’t ready to be taken seriously. If they went face to face with the Minnesota Vikings and won (or at least hung tight), it would serve as a sign that the Giants were a team to be reckoned with in the NFC.
Well, the Giants showed the nation that they aren’t ready for prime time — not even close. They made too many self-inflicted mistakes, had another Odell Beckham Jr. incident and were outclassed by the Vikings 24-10 on Monday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The most recent Giants win against a quality, playoff-caliber team outside the division came Nov. 17, 2013, against the Green Bay Packers, who started Scott Tolzien at quarterback that day. You need to dip back into the 2012 season for a win over the 49ers to find something better.
Serious contenders and playoff teams win games against quality competition. The Giants (2-2) proved again that they aren’t there yet. They’ll have another chance to prove otherwise next Sunday night in Green Bay.
The troubling signs began for the Giants with their opening drive, which was thwarted by a pair of penalties. Before the Giants’ offense got its hands on the ball again, Dwayne Harris fumbled a punt. The Giants were flagged five times in the first quarter alone. The Vikings (4-0) committed five penalties for 27 yards in the game.
In the second quarter, Beckham lost his cool again. With all eyes on his every move after a sideline tantrum last week against the Washington Redskins, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he took a hit from Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes near the sideline. On the next play, Beckham and Rhodes tangled again. After the drive concluded, Beckham needed to be calmed by Giants wide receivers coach Adam Henry, his former position coach at LSU.
Beckham momentarily lost his cool, and he struggled throughout the contest. He had one clear drop and two other attempts on which his hands were on the football. Beckham finished with three catches for 23 yards on nine targets. It wasn’t anywhere near enough.
The Giants mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half and were forced to settle for a field goal with a timeout left in their pocket. Even when they pulled within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, they allowed the Vikings to march down the field for a score with relative ease.
On Monday, the Giants simply weren’t good enough to beat or seriously threaten a playoff team.