EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Marcus Sherels scored on an 86-yard punt return with 23 seconds left in the first quarter Monday night to give the Minnesota Vikings a 7-3 lead over the New York Giants.
The Vikings had only six plays from scrimmage in an opening quarter dominated by the winless 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. Weatherford tried to run him down near the end zone, but he got hit with a questionable horse-collar tackle call.
It was the third punt return for a touchdown against the Giants. Minnesota had 8 yards in punt returns this season before Sherels broke this one.
New York seemed to be heading into the second quarter with a 3-0 lead after Josh Brown capped the game-opening 17-play drive with a 35-yard field goal. The 68-yard drive lasted 9:36 and came within inches of ending in a touchdown, but Eli Manning's pass from the 16-yard line went off the fingertips of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Giants center David Baas, who was returning to the lineup after missing three games with a neck injury, hurt a knee on the play and left the field.
New York was forced to play rookie Michael Cox and recently signed veteran Peyton Hillis at halfback with David Wilson (neck) and Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) out.
AP NFL website: —www.pro32.ap.org