If the Vikings were going to have a game that needs to be forgotten immediately, I'm glad it came now rather than later. Because this was an ugly, tough-to-watch, all-around terrible game.
After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, the Vikings shut down for the night. Arizona completely took control. The problems were numerous, the gaffes were many, and the game was easily the ugliest of the year for the Vikes.
Take the ingredients of a Vikings win: Get an efficient game out of Favre, get a variety of receivers involved, feed the playmakers, get a productive performance from Adrian Peterson, pressure the opposing quarterback, and make good tackles. None of that happened today. That's the recipe for an embarrassing loss.
Actually, embarrassing puts it too mildly. Favre threw a pair of interceptions -- which, this season, is completely out-of-character for him. A few additional passes probably should have been intercepted. Adrian Peterson was flummoxed by a Cardinals defense that took advantage of a battered Vikings offensive line. Sidney Rice -- Favre's most reliable target this season -- was hardly seen. It seemed like he might have been left behind at the airport. And Shiancoe too, who was also completely absent from the passing attack. Ignoring those two guys is how you lose football games. The Vikings' inability to utilize these weapons was, to put it kindly, confusing.
So with nothing going well on the offensive end -- outside of the opening drive -- the defense was going to have to dominate this one for the Vikings to have any chance. But in a variety of ways, this defense wilted. Kurt Warner barely felt a rush, Anquan Boldin caught a pair of touchdowns before the Vikings even knew what hit them, and incompetent tackling resulted in too many big-gainers for the Cardinals offense. Speaking of guys who could have been left behind at the airport, where was Jared Allen? The Cards did a tremendous job on him.
Things get worse. E.J. Henderson's done for the year. Don't need to wait for the injury report to figure that out. An absolutely devastating and gruesome leg injury in the fourth quarter, after the result of the game was no longer in doubt. What a shame. Doesn't take a doctor to tell you that he has a long road back to the football field. At this point, we just need to hope that he'll be able to return next season at full strength, with his full ability intact. The injury he suffered could, at the very worst, be a career-threatening one. We'll keep you posted.
After taking a 7-0 lead, the Cardinals outscored the Vikings by a 27-10 margin. On top of all the problems I've mentioned, Arizona controlled the field position battle. Hard to cut into a lead when you're deep in your own territory. Hard to cut into a lead when your third down efficiency is horrendous and Favre is getting battered.
Adjustments need to be made. The tackling desperately needs to improve in the weeks ahead, and Antoine Winfield's sure tacking was desperately missed. Warner had all day to throw the ball -- the defensive line wasn't applying anything even resembling a rush on him. The Vikings will once again find themselves without E.J. Henderson, putting pressure on Chad Greenway and Ben Leber to step up. The lack of production from Adrian is frightening. The lack of throws to the best targets in the receiving corps is concerning.
The Vikings leave Arizona as a battered team that will be missing its best linebacker for quite some time. They come home with a lot of changes that need to be made for them to be a competitive team next Sunday -- some related to player execution, others related to game planning. But amidst the endless list of problems from tonight, there's a chance for redemption in front of a friendly crowd next week. Plenty of problems were exposed tonight, and plenty of challenges have emerged -- now we get to see just how resilient this team is.