DETROIT – Brett Favre stood on the sidelines for the start of a game for the first time since 1992, rubbing his salt-and-pepper beard in frustration because his body couldn’t take another pounding.
The New York Giants made sure his replacement struggled early and often.
Brandon Jacobs ran for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the second quarter, Eli Manning threw a lead-padding TD just before halftime and Ahmad Bradshaw added a 48-yard run to help the Giants beat the Minnesota Vikings 21-3 Monday night.
The Giants sacked Favre replacement Tarvaris Jackson four times, knocking him out of the game late in the third period and again in the final seconds.
New York (9-4) moved back into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NFC East. Minnesota (5-8), in the NFC title game last January, was eliminated from the playoff race.
The game was switched from Sunday afternoon when the Giants couldn’t get to Minneapolis because of the severe weather, then was moved to the Detroit Lions’ indoor stadium after the collapse of the roof on the Vikings’ stadium.
The Vikings the home team at Ford Field – which was adorned with their logo at midfield and “VIKINGS” in the end zones – but they didn’t have much of an edge.
“The whole thing is bizarre,” Vikings radio analyst Pete Bercich said.
Nothing, though, was more odd than seeing Favre watch a game.
He stood on the sideline, trying to tutor Jackson at times.
The game drew an announced crowd of 45,910 – there seemed to be at least 10,000 more in the 65,000-seat stadium late in the first half – and some fans made the trek to see Favre.
Even though most got in for free, they left disappointed, especially if they were rooting for the Vikes.
Manning, whose brother, Peyton, now has the longest starting streak for a QB at 205 games, said he was shocked when he found out Favre was inactive.
“You don’t know if this is the end for a guy who has done so much for the NFL,” Manning said.
New York has won three straight and eight of its last 10 games, improving its chances for a wild card if it doesn’t finish ahead of the Eagles. They play Sunday.
Minnesota entered on a two-game winning streak in what has been a miserable season.
Jackson got off to a good start, completing his first two passes for 8 yards each, but didn’t do much else to help his team.
“Very pleased with the way the defense bailed us out after two early turnovers,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Jackson wasted an opportunity to show his coaches and teammates he can be counted on to fill in for Favre for a game and perhaps in the future.
He completed just 12 of 22 passes, threw an interception directly to linebacker Keith Bulluck, and fumbled a shotgun snap he was able to recover. Another shotgun snap got away and he recovered it near the goal line, seemingly getting a break from the officials on what appeared to be a safety.
While Jackson didn’t have the benefit of a running game – Adrian Peterson was held to 26 yards on 14 carries – Manning relied on a one-two punch to pound the Vikings all night.
Jacobs ran for a season-high 116 yards and a score and Bradshaw had 103 yards rushing, including the 48-yarder that was his longest run in two years. Bradshaw left in the fourth quarter with a wrist injury.
Manning bounced back from throwing a second interception in the opening minute of the second quarter and was 22 of 37 for 187 yards and a TD, a perfectly threaded pass to Kevin Boss. That put the Giants ahead 14-3 with 3 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hakeem Nicks caught seven passes for 96 yards.
Jackson limped off the field with 16 seconds left in the game, giving rookie Joe Webb another opportunity to take snaps after getting drafted in the sixth round as a wide receiver. Webb, who played in one game without throwing a pass, completed 2 of 5 passes.
The Vikings were also missing WR Percy Harvin (migraines) and OG Steve Hutchinson (broken right thumb). … Manning, who was sacked for the first time in six games, became the first Giant to throw for 3,000-plus yards in six straight seasons.