EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Minnesota Vikings showed Peyton Manning how bad little brother Eli can be.
With older brother Peyton watching in the stands, Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith and Chad Greenway picked off passes by Eli and returned them for touchdowns in leading the Vikings to a 41-17 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Sharper scored on a 20-yard return, Smith rumbled 93 yards and Greenway followed from 37 yards just a few plays later. The Vikings set a team single-game record for interception returns for touchdowns.
The NFL record for interceptions returns for touchdowns is four, set by Seattle against Kansas City on Nov. 4, 1984.
The Vikings (5-6) nearly had a fourth return in handing the Giants (7-4) their second loss in the last three games. Smith returned a second-quarter interception 19 yards to the Giants 8, setting up a touchdown run by Chester Taylor.
The Giants were off-balance from the start. Tarvaris Jackson threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice just 41 seconds after the opening kickoff in helping Minnesota win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Ryan Longwell added two field goals.
More importantly, the Vikings got back into the wild-card playoff chase and prevented the Giants from taking a two-game lead for the top wild-card berth.
Manning finished 21-of-49 for 249 yards and four interceptions. He threw a meaningless 6-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the fourth quarter.
Reuben Droughns scored on a 1-yard run for New York and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 48-yard field goal.
The loss dropped the Giants three games behind Dallas in the NFC East with five games to play. The Cowboys have the tiebreaker should they finish tied, having won both games this season.
The Vikings have owned Eli Manning in their last two games. They intercepted him a career-high four times in 2005 in a game also won in record fashion. They returned an interception, kickoff and punt for touchdowns in the same game.
The interception return was their weapon of choice this year.
Sharper, who intercepted three passes and scored on a 92-yard return in the 2005 game, gave the Vikings a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter on a return on which he was not touched after Manning threw behind tight end Jeremy Shockey.
Smith, the Vikings' other safety, helped push the lead to 21-7 with the interception that set up the score by Taylor, who carried 31 times for 77 yards filling in for Adrian Peterson. Manning apparently didn't see Smith while throwing to Burress.
Leading 24-7 at the half, the Giants seemed to get some momentum at the start of the third quarter with Tynes' long field goal.
However, Jackson, who was 10-of-12 for 129 yards, converted two third-down plays on a 14-play, nine-minute drive that resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Longwell.
Smith and Greenway put the game out of reach with their touchdowns. Smith picked off a pass that was tipped by linebacker Ben Leber and went from one end of the stadium to the other on his 93-yard jaunt down the right sidelines.
Manning completed a pass to start the next series, before Greenway stepped in front of another pass to Shockey and scored.
Still on the ground, Manning simply looked up in the air in disbelief.
The Giants should have known things were going to go bad when Tynes' kickoff went out of bounds to start the game.
Two plays later, Jackson went play-action and found a streaking Rice down the right sidelines for a big score on a play that Giants cornerback Aaron Ross was called for pass interference.
Droughns tied the game on the Giants' opening series, scoring from a yard out to cap a 65-yard drive that turned out to be New York's only effective series of the half.
The Vikings defense took over after that and made Manning look bad in front of his brother.