With things at U.S. Bank Stadium tied at 7-7 between the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings, the visiting team found themselves with a 1st-and-10 from their own 36 after three good runs from David Johnson to close the first quarter. Two more carries for Johnson took the Cardinals to nearly midfield, and the Vikings' run defense was getting shredded. Carson Palmer then found Larry Fitzgerald for 13 yards into Minnesota territory at the 38, and the Arizona offense was on a roll. Palmer then hit the other hometown hero, Michael Floyd, for 11 yards down to the 24.
Johnson then carried again down to the 17, but Minnesota's defense finally stood strong and forced the Cardinals into a field goal try. Chandler Catanzaro was good from 34 yards out, and the visitors took a 10-7 lead with ten minutes left in the half after a pretty impressive drive.
Catanzaro kicked the ball in the direction of Cordarrelle Patterson, but he did not get a chance for a return as the kick resulted in a touchback. Taking over from their own 25, the Vikings got themselves to the dreaded 3rd-and-1, but rather than hammer Matt Asiata into the line, Sam Bradford hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a big 30-yard catch and run to move the Vikings into Arizona territory at the 42.
The Vikings then followed that up with a reverse flea flicker. . .honestly, that's the best way to describe it. . . . .and drew a big pass interference penalty on Adam Thielen to put the ball on the Arizona 2-yard line. On first-and-goal from the 2, the Vikings did decide to hammer Asiata up the middle, and he was initially ruled as being down, but after another successful challenge. . .Mike Zimmer's second of the afternoon. . .the play was ruled a touchdown, and the Vikings were back on top, 13-10. Kai Forbath had his extra point blocked. . .because why not. . .and the score stayed at a 3-point lead for Minnesota.
Forbath didn't fare much better on the next kickoff, as Brittan Golden returned it into Minnesota territory at the 48-yard line. It looked like the Vikings were going to put together a big three-and-out, but again a Vikings' defensive back was again penalized to extend the drive, as this time Trae Waynes got called for illegal contact. Andre Ellington then carried the ball a couple of times for a first down to the Minnesota 30-yard line and the Arizona drive continued.
Waynes was then called again for an illegal contact penalty to give the Cardinals a first down at the Minnesota 23. Palmer then found Larry Fitzgerald for a 15-yard pass to the Minnesota 8, setting up first-and-goal for the visitors. Then, on third and goal, Palmer dropped back to pass and found. . .XAVIER RHODES! Yes, Rhodes intercepted Palmer at the goal line and had nothing but green in front of him, as he took it back 100 yards for his first career touchdown! That's the longest interception return for a touchdown in Vikings' history, and with Forbath's extra point the Vikings got a huge momentum shift and a 20-10 lead.
Arizona got back to work on offense after another touchback from Forbath, and at the two-minute warning found themselves at the Minnesota 42-yard line. A short pass to David Johnson converted a big third down for the Cardinals, and Palmer made up for for his big turnover by hitting Jermaine Gresham for a 29-yard touchdown. Gresham caught a short pass, and took advantage of some truly pathetic Vikings' tackle attempts to rumble in for the score. Catanzaro made the extra point, and the Minnesota lead was again down to three at 20-17. That's how they went into halftime after Minnesota's drive at the end of the half got shut down.
The Vikings are definitely not tearing it up on the stat sheet by any means. Bradford has completed 7-of-9 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown so far this afternoon. Adam Thielen has been the leading receiver with three grabs for 45 yards and a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson has one reception for 30 yards, and Stefon Diggs has been shut out thus far after getting 13 catches in each of the last two games. Jerick McKinnon has given the Vikings something that sort of resembles a running game, carrying the ball seven times for 28 yards.
Arizona's offense, on the other hand, has had no such issues. Carson Palmer has completed 11-of-19 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Larry Fitzgerald is the Cardinals' leading receiver, with four catches for 53 yards so far. David Johnson has been tearing the Minnesota defense up so far, as he already has 89 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries.
We're at halftime at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Vikings currently lead the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 20-17. Can the Vikings get things going on defense and keep the offense rolling in the second half? Come on and join us for the third quarter, won't you?