EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Conway's Peyton Hillis, who was working on his soybean farm in southwest Tennessee and serving as a volunteer coach at a high school a week ago, came to the aid of the New York Giants on Monday night.
Hillis, signed by the Giants last week after being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month, rushed for 36 yards on 18 carries and scored a 1-yard touchdown in helping the Giants break a six-game losing streak with a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Hillis also caught five passes for 45 yards, his longest for 16 yards. The longest run for the former Wampus Cat and Razorback star was 8 yards.
The Giants got their first win of the season by holding Adrian Peterson in check and converting Minnesota mistakes into the 23-7 victory.
The Giants began the season with six losses in which they were the team turning over the ball (minus-16 difference) while showing little penchant for playing defense. But against the Vikings (1-5), they were efficient enough, if not overwhelming, and had three takeaways to one lost fumble.
Peterson, the league's MVP last season and a 2,000-yard rusher, was held to 28 yards five days after his 2-year-old son was buried in South Dakota. The man accused in the death was indicted on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, prosecutors said Monday.
Peterson was not helped by a rusty Josh Freeman, making his debut as Vikings quarterback after being signed as a free agent when Tampa Bay cut the 2009 first-round draft pick. Freeman frequently missed open receivers, and several of his throws sailed yards beyond his targets.
Josh Brown kicked three field goals and Rueben Randle caught a 24-yard TD pass for New York (1-6).
Marcus Sherels provided Minnesota's points with an 86-yard punt return, but his fumble without being hit during a runback midway in the third quarter set up New York at the Vikings 3.
Hillis, signed last Wednesday with the Giants in dire need of running backs, surged in from the 1 for a 17-7 lead — New York's biggest in 2013.
The lead grew on Brown's 23-yard field goal to finish off a 16-play, 75-yard drive, and to 23-7 on his 36-yarder. Another Vikings mistake handed those points to the Giants: Rookie Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle of all things, fumbled at Minnesota's 18 while returning a short kickoff.
Eli Manning, who led the league with 15 interceptions, didn't throw one for the first time all season. And while Freeman was picked only one time, by Antrel Rolle, he looked like someone who hadn't played in more than a month.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)