American Football: Murray mints a silver lining for Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos won their first-round games in the NFL play-offs, but did so in vividly contrasting circumstances on Saturday. The Broncos won comfortably, trouncing the Jacksonville Jaguars 42-17 at their Mile High Stadium, while the Vikings, having trailed for most of the match, beat the New York Giants 23-22 in the closing seconds of a remarkable game at the Meadowlands.

The Giants led 22-13 with just 90 seconds remaining when Randall Cunningham threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jake Reed. The Vikes then recovered an onside kick and soon afterwards Eddie Murray converted a 24-yard field goal to secure the team's first play-off victory under their head coach, Dennis Green. They now play the 49ers in San Francisco on Saturday.

Cunningham, the former Philadelphia Eagle who was playing for the injured Brad Johnson, had began the match desperately, causing three turnovers, including fumbles on successive plays, as the Giants cruised into a 19- 3 half-time lead.

However as the Vikings began to have more success in the second half so the young Giants side started to self-destruct. At one point their defensive backs Phillippi Sparks and Conrad Hamilton became involved in a heated confrontation on the field, which required team-mates to pull them apart and the team to squander a time out.

"There was a sense of frustration that set in right there and I will deal with that," the Giants head coach, Jim Fassel, said. "We lost our composure at that time."

The bickering between the pair was over a missed coverage, but players said there was also anger over a Tikki Barber fumble.

"I can't think of a greater group of players and coaches," Green said. "We never gave up. We fought to the finish. We did a great job of stopping the run in the second half. We had to make big plays. Jake Reed made a big play, Cris Carter made a big play and we got a big onsides kick."

In Denver the Broncos gained a measure of revenge for their defeat by the Jaguars in the play-offs last year. They took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, but then watched the visitors fight back to 21-17. The Jags were poised to go ahead when their quarterback, Mark Brunell, fumbled the snap.

The Broncos never looked back and with their running back Terrell Davis gaining 187 yards before leaving the game because of bruised ribs they won with something to spare.

"This was not revenge," the Broncos head coach, Mike Shanahan, said. "We do not use the term revenge. I don't think getting even was the idea."

l Brett Favre, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and Barry Sanders, the Detroit Lions running back, are the joint winners of the NFL's Most Valuable Player award, the first time the distinction has been shared since 1960.

Suggested Topics
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Maths Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments