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Vikings clinch postseason berth with victory over Giants

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings defense picked off Eli Manning three times and returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown in a dominating 49-17 win over the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. Minnesota (10-5) clinched a pl...

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Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) returns an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday. Minnesota clinched a playoff spot with a 49-17 victory over the Giants USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings defense picked off Eli Manning three times and returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown in a dominating 49-17 win over the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Minnesota (10-5) clinched a playoff spot and also set up a game that will decide the NFC North title in Week 17. The Vikings will travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers next Sunday night.
The playoff berth is Minnesota's first under second-year coach Mike Zimmer and first since 2012. The Vikings haven't won a division title since they captured back-to-back NFC North championships in 2008 and 2009.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. He heads into Week 17 with a 64-yard lead on Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin for the NFL's rushing title.
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 25 passes for 168 yards a touchdown before leaving the game late with the Vikings leading the Giants (6-9) by 32 points.
Manning dropped to 3-5 in eight career starts against the Vikings. In those games, he has thrown for five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He finished 15-for-29 for 234 yards and a touchdown to go with his three turnovers.
Giants running back Rashad Jennings accounted for 136 total yards, including 74 yards on 14 carries. He also had a 50-yard catch and run to set up a field goal in the first half and finished with 62 yards on two catches.
New York wide receiver Reuben Randle, starting in place of suspended wideout Odell Beckham Jr., had two catches for 80 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Kicker Blair Walsh's 32-yard field goal late in the first quarter gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Minnesota extended that lead to double digits on their next drive, overcoming a false start penalty that wiped away a touchdown run earlier in the drive before Bridgewater connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph on a 28-yard scoring strike down the right hash.
A 28-yard field goal by New York kicker Josh Brown made it 10-3 eight minutes before halftime, but Minnesota safety Harrison Smith picked off Manning along the left sideline and raced 35 yards for the score. The pick six was the fourth of Smith's career, establishing a new team record. Walsh missed the extra point, but nailed a 52-yard field goal just before halftime as Minnesota took a 19-3 lead to the locker room.
Manning struggled before the half, completing just five of 13 passes for 77 yards and throwing two interceptions.
Minnesota's game in Green Bay against the Packers next Sunday will be played at 7:30 p.m. as part of NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
The winner next Sunday will capture the division title and the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. The loser will enter the postseason as one of two NFC wild cards along with the Seattle Seahawks.

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