The only place the Minnesota Vikings look perfect is in the win-loss column. But for new quarterback Sam Bradford, that is enough for now.
Bradford threw for a touchdown and played turnover-free football on Monday as the Vikings beat the New York Giants 24-10 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The win moves Minnesota to 4-0, where they join the Eagles and Broncos as the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten teams.
Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata, the running back committee carrying the load for Minnesota with Adrian Peterson out for the long term, each had a rushing touchdown as the Vikings never trailed for the first time this season.
McKinnon led all rushers with 85 yards on 18 carries, while Bradford was 26-of-36 for 262 yards in the air.
The Giants (2-2) protected quarterback Eli Manning throughout, not allowing a Vikings sack, but were generally held in check otherwise and lost their second consecutive game.
Manning was 25-of-45 for 261 yards and directed one touchdown drive, but was intercepted once and now has thrown five touchdowns and 15 interceptions in eight career starts versus Minnesota.
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, who has had a rough season, missed a 46-yard attempt on the opening drive of the second half, but redeemed himself later in the third quarter with a 44-yarder that gave Minnesota a 17-3 lead.
They took that advantage into the fourth quarter, but the Giants’ first play of the fourth was a 67-yard catch-and-run by Paul Perkins down to the Vikings 4-yard-line.
Orleans Darkwa scored from a yard out three plays later, cutting the Minnesota lead to 17-10.
But the Vikings answered with a 76-yard drive of their own, capped off when McKinnon scampered into the end zone from four yards out, re-establishing a two-touchdown lead.
The Giants turned the ball over on downs with 1:51 to play and Minnesota was able to run out the clock.
The Giants’ defense held Bradford and company to three-and-out on Minnesota’s first possession, but a special teams error gave the Vikings a second chance.
Giants returner Dwayne Harris muffed the punt, and Minnesota recovered at the New York 41, which led to Asiata’s 1-yard run and a 7-0 Vikings lead.
The Minnesota defense forced a trio of New York punts, then Bradford led a nine-play, 65-yard drive in the second quarter, finishing with a 7-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 14-0 advantage.
The Giants broke the shutout with two seconds left in the half, when Josh Brown hit a 40-yard field goal.
Minnesota’s defense, averaging five sacks a game coming into the contest, was held without a first-half sack.
The Vikings host Houston on Sunday, while the Giants stay on the road in the NFC North, traveling to Green Bay.
(Editing by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru)