EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The New York Giants have struggled to run the ball effectively all season. On Monday, with newly signed Peyton Hills in the backfield, they took some steps forward.
And the coach noticed.
''He was pretty much a regular last night,'' Tom Coughlin said Tuesday. ''He was a very welcome addition. He went onto the field and fit right in. It was very encouraging. He got into the end zone with a nice burst of power in addition to getting a quick start.''
Hillis, who has also played for Denver, Kansas City and Cleveland, carried the ball 18 times for just 36 yards, but had five receptions for 45 yards. More importantly, he scored in the second half of New York's first victory, a 23-7 decision over Minnesota.
''In his short amount of time, he was able to keep his poise and knew the terminology,'' Coughlin said. ''He was at the right place at the right time and was huge for us, because we went into the game questioning who was going to be there.
''He did an admirable job.''
A day after a win that improved New York to just 1-6, Coughlin mentioned that the contributions of Hills and another recent signee - fullback John Conner - will help to push the other players on the roster as the Giants try to build some momentum.
''It's a huge positive to have someone come in and contribute like that,'' Coughlin said. ''It gives us something we didn't have. Those two young men have inspired the others and I hope that will continue.''
Coughlin said that he didn't know more about the status of starting center David Baas, who had just returned to action after missing three weeks with a neck injury. Baas left Monday's game with a knee injury suffered on the Giants' first possession. He did not return.
''It will be the first question I ask Ronnie Barnes,'' Coughlin said, referring to the Giants' senior vice president of medical services. ''He came out of the game and the injury prevented him from going back in. That's as far as I could go.''
Baas was slated to undergo tests Tuesday afternoon. As he did the previous three games, Jim Cordle stepped in at center to replace Baas.
The defense was key for New York vs. Minnesota. After giving up a league-high 209 points, it pitched a shutout. Minnesota was limited to 206 total yards, running back Adrian Peterson posted just 28 yards rushing on 13 carries, and new quarterback Josh Freeman was under constant pressure, finishing 20 of 53 for 190 yards. The Vikings were held to a special teams touchdown.
''We're excited and happy about winning, but now we need to focus on a divisional game this week,'' Coughlin said. ''This win was an outstanding momentum builder for our team. A lot of things happened on the plus side. But we have plenty of work to do, especially the lack of consistency on offense.''
The Giants face the Eagles (3-4) Sunday in Philadelphia. New York is already 0-1 vs. the Eagles.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org