EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., DEC. 9 -- Typical Giants football.
A conservative offense, a tough and opportunistic defense and big plays on special teams helped New York end a two-game slide and wrap up the NFC East title for the second consecutive year with a 23-15 victory over the Minnesota Vikings today.
Giants Coach Bill Parcells came to the game after spending the night in a hospital with kidney stones. He appeared fine on the sideline but afterward returned to the hospital for "a day or two."
"He's our leader. He's like a father," linebacker Johnie Cooks said. "When you don't have your leader, you don't know which way to go."
With their leader, the Giants still struggled at times but stayed close when they could have fallen behind by a lot and found a way to win. Ottis Anderson scored his second touchdown on a two-yard run with 6:50 left, providing a 20-15 lead.
Anderson gained only 26 yards but became the eighth player to rush for 10,000 in his career.
New York forced three second-half turnovers that set up all 13 of its fourth-quarter points.
After a much-maligned few weeks, Lawrence Taylor returned to his all-pro self, registering nine tackles, three assists, 2 1/2 sacks and numerous quarterback hurries, the last one leading to Gary Reasons's interception late in the game with a big rush on Rich Gannon.
"At halftime we knew we hadn't played any football and we were only down two points," Taylor said of the 12-10 deficit. "We knew were just 30 minutes away from a title."
The victory snapped a five-game winning streak for the Vikings (6-7), who lost their eighth straight outdoors. The Giants are 11-2.
New York was down 15-10 when Greg Jackson intercepted at the Vikings 37 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Matt Bahr kicked a 48-yard field goal four plays later.
The Vikings then lost eight yards in three plays. Dave Meggett returned a punt 11 yards to the Vikings 42. Eight plays later, Anderson scored for 20-15.
Taylor forced the interception by Reasons and Bahr kicked an 18-yard field goal with 33 seconds left.
"LT was the difference in this game," Gannon said. "He's relentless. He's a one-man wrecking crew and he took over in the fourth quarter. We just couldn't stop him. Every time I turned around, he was in my face."
As for Parcells, the Giants said he likely will be treated Monday. No surgery is expected. His presence had a clear effect on the team.
"I don't think they told everybody about it," fullback Maurice Carthon said. "They told me and told me to keep it quiet. I saw him this morning and he was hurting. But he said all week that guys who are hurting have to come back. He came out and proved that."