Scoring on defense, scoring on special teams. . .whatever it took, the Vikings did it to snap their four-game losing streak.
On Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings scored in all sorts of different ways and set some records in the process as they held off the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 30-24 to snap their four-game losing streak and, for the most part, save their season.
Minnesota got the scoring started first, as Marcus Sherels set the Vikings up with good field position on their first possession with a big punt return. They took advantage, as Sam Bradford connected with Adam Thielen on a 16-yard touchdown catch. The play was initially ruled as being out of bounds, but Mike Zimmer threw the challenge flag and the call was reversed. Kai Forbath hit the extra point. . .a big thing around these parts. . .to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead. Arizona answered on the ensuing drive, as David Johnson went over from one yard out to tie the score.
Arizona took the lead in the second quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro, pushing ahead 10-7. But Minnesota took the lead back after a nice drive with some pretty creative play calling, including what can best be described as a reverse flea flicker out of the Wildcat formation that resulted in a pass interference penalty that put the Vikings on the Arizona 2-yard line. Matt Asiata took it over from there for a 2-yard touchdown run that also needed to be reviewed, and Kai Forbath's extra point was. . .blocked.
So, the lead for Minnesota stayed at 13-10.
Arizona looked to be driving for another score, but on a third-and-goal play Carson Palmer was intercepted by Xavier Rhodes at the goal line, and #29 had nothing but green field turf in front of him. He took it back the other way for a 100-yard pick six, the longest interception return for a score in Minnesota history, topping the previous record of 97 yards by Najee Mustafaa in 1991. Forbath's extra point was good and put the Vikings ahead 20-10.
The Cardinals put together a great answer of a drive just before the half, concluding on a 29-yard Carson Palmer touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham that featured some awful tackling for the Vikings. That cut the Minnesota lead to three at 20-17 as they went into the locker room for halftime.
Minnesota got that momentum back to start the second half, as Cordarrelle Patterson took Catanzaro's kickoff, made a couple of moves, and turned on the jets to go 104 yards for a touchdown. It was the fifth touchdown return of Patterson's career, tying a franchise record he now shares with his teammate, Marcus Sherels, and the man he basically replaced with the Vikings, Percy Harvin. That gave Minnesota a ten-point lead once more at 27-17.
The Vikings added to the lead late in the third quarter on Forbath's first Minnesota field goal, a 27-yarder to make the score 30-17. Arizona got back on the board with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Palmer to David Johnson, and that made it 30-24. That touchdown came after a strip/sack of Bradford by Arizona defensive end Chandler Jones.
That's how it ended, even though the Cardinals got a chance to make it interesting at the end. Danielle Hunter got a big sack of Carson Palmer to end things at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The stats weren't terribly impressive for the Vikings. Sam Bradford played another solid game, completing 20-of-28 passes, but wound up with just 169 yards and a touchdown (as well as a lost fumble). Adam Thielen was the team's leading receiver, hauling in five catches for 65 yards and a score. Jerick McKinnon did a little work in the run game, picking up 44 yards on 16 carries in aid of Minnesota's league-worst rushing attack.
For the Cardinals, Carson Palmer wasn't very good. He completed 20-of-38 passes for 198 yards, and though he did have two touchdown passes, he also threw two costly interceptions, including the pick-six to Rhodes. Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in receiving with 63 yards on six catches. David Johnson rushed for 103 yards on 22 carries to pace the Cardinals in that category, but the Vikings pretty much kept him under wraps in the second half.
Minnesota's defense also came up big when they had to, as they sacked Palmer four times, including two by Danielle Hunter. They also hit him on numerous other occasions and made his life generally miserable all afternoon long.
The Vikings improve to 6-4 on the season, and will have themselves a short week as they face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day. Arizona falls to 4-5-1, and they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons next Sunday afternoon.
The Minnesota Vikings hold off the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 30-24 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thanks to everybody that got their coverage of this week's game right here at The Daily Norseman!