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Peyton Hillis has solid debut for new team; Josh Freeman not so much

Josh Freeman and Peyton Hillis, briefly teammates on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season, played against each other Monday night for two different teams -- two very desperate teams.

The Minnesota Vikings were in such need of a spark at quarterback that they started Freeman, who was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and has been with his new team for a little more than two weeks.

The New York Giants were in such need of a healthy running back that they started Hillis, who has admitted he didn't do any conditioning after being released by the Bucs last month until being signed by his new team last week.

Only one of the two teams benefitted from the gambles.

Hillis helped the Giants get their first win of the season with 36 yards in 18 carries with a touchdown to go with five catches for 45 yards -- not spectacular numbers, but, hey, at least the veteran playing for his fifth team in as many NFL seasons made some positive contributions.

“I was at home on my ranch in Tennessee hunting every day and not working out, and then you get a call,” said Hillis, who rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns to go with two receiving touchdowns with the Cleveland Browns in 2010, his best season.

“It takes a little time to get your legs back underneath you.”

Things didn't go so well for Freeman, who completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and one interception. And, honestly, he looked even worse than those numbers would indicate, throwing close passes too hard and sometimes missing receivers by 10 or so yards.

“A lot of the plays were just a hair off,” Freeman said.

As "Monday Night Football" color commentator Jon Gruden pointed out numerous times throughout the broadcast, the Vikings were probably expecting too much too soon from Freeman, who had 80 touchdowns and 67 interceptions in his four-plus years with Tampa Bay.

At least when the night was over, Hillis and Freeman could proudly state that they play for one-win teams -- which is more than they could say if they were still members of the 0-6 Buccaneers.

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