MINNEAPOLIS -- A woeful kicking game, plus a quarterback change by the Minnesota Vikings nearly cost the New York Giants, but they wore out one of the league's worst defenses.
The Giants amassed 460 yards of offense and took a late lead on Tiki Barber's touchdown run Sunday in a 27-20 victory that dropped the Vikings to 2-7 for the first time since 1984.
"This whole game was a study in perseverance for us," Barber said. "In the NFL, when the momentum shifts, it's real tough to get it back. Last drive, we had to snatch the momentum away."
Kerry Collins was 25-for-35 for 300 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception, and Barber rushed 24 times for 127 yards as New York (5-4) moved within a game of first-place Philadelphia in the NFC East.
Minnesota ran out of patience with Daunte Culpepper, and Todd Bouman nearly rallied the Vikings to a win that would've been due largely to two extra points and two mid-range field goals botched by the Giants.
"I'm proud of the way our guys came back," said New York coach Jim Fassel. "It shouldn't have been that close. We left eight points off the board."
Michael Bennett rushed 15 times for a career-high 167 yards, his third straight 100-yard game. He scored on a 78-yard burst through the line that gave Minnesota its first lead, 20-19 with 8:36 remaining.
The Giants, aided by a third-down pass interference call on Corey Chavous, drove 80 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead on an 8-yard scoring run by Barber. Marcellus Rivers caught the deflected 2-point conversion pass to make it 27-20 with 2:43 left.
The Vikings had to punt after rookie Bryant McKinnie, making his NFL debut, let Kenny Holmes by him to sack Bouman and force a fumble that lost 20 yards on third down. McKinnie had not given up sack in junior college or college.
Barber ran out the clock with 40 yards on the final possession.
"It's on us," Minnesota defensive tackle Chris Hovan said. "The defense has got to stop 'em, and we didn't do it."
Other than the sack by Holmes, McKinnie looked strong in his NFL debut after ending a 98-day holdout last week. He played left tackle for all but three series.
Culpepper didn't throw an interception but was just 9-for-20 for 91 yards. After another three-and-out series in the third quarter, coach Mike Tice conceded to Bouman -- the backup who played at NCAA Division II St. Cloud State -- as the crowd cheered.
"I thought we had very little rhythm in the passing game," Tice said. "I thought we had to make a change. Todd came in and gave us a lift and Michael gave us a lift, but we were not able to maintain that."
On his second drive, Bouman completed two passes to Randy Moss for 80 yards before Moe Williams plunged in from the 1 for his ninth touchdown of the season and cut New York's lead to six.
"I'm still the quarterback," Culpepper said. "It's like in baseball when a relief pitcher comes in. That's how I look at it."
The Vikings have hurt themselves with turnovers and foolish penalties, and Sunday's first half was a microcosm of the first half of their season.
Minnesota was called for seven penalties worth 52 yards in the first 30 minutes, and Brody Liddiard's snap sailed over punter Kyle Richardson's head in the first quarter, setting up a 1-yard touchdown pass by Collins to fullback Charles Stackhouse.
Minnesota's defense, ranked 30th among the 32 teams, did play fairly well in the first half, except for one glaring moment when Ron Dayne burst through the middle untouched for a 30-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter.
Then came the kicking problems for the Giants, costing them a chance to build on the 13-3 lead.
Tom Rouen -- signed by New York on Nov. 1 -- fumbled the snap on the extra point, and Corey Chavous tackled him after Matt Bryant decided it was too risky to kick. Later, Bryant pulled a 31-yard field goal to the left.
In the third quarter, Bryant had a 36-yarder taken away from him when Rouen bobbled the ball again and was tackled by Chavous.
Later in the period, the Giants drove 91 yards in six plays and took a 19-6 lead on an easy 11-yard touchdown pass from Collins to Amani Toomer.
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