Say what you will about the Minnesota Vikings in the early part of the 2022 NFL season, but no team gives you more value for your entertainment dollar than the purple and gold.
The Vikings held two different 11-point leads on Sunday afternoon over the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium, but once again had to hold on late to walk out with a 34-26 victory.
Minnesota got on the board first in this one thanks to, of all things, a 17-yard touchdown run from. . .Kirk Cousins? Yes, Cousins dropped back to pass on a third down, didn’t find anyone open, and then took it in himself for the score. Greg Joseph was good on the extra point and just like that the Vikings were ahead 17-0.
Arizona answered on their opening drive with a 44-yard field goal from Matt Prater to make it 7-3 in favor of the home team. After a turnover on downs by the Vikings and a punt from Arizona, Minnesota got into the end zone again on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Johnny Mundt to increase the Vikings’ lead to 14-3.
Arizona cut into the lead just before halftime on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins, who made a ridiculous one-handed catch over Harrison Smith for the score to cut the Vikings’ advantage to 14-10. That’s how they went into the locker room at halftime after Greg Joseph’s last-second attempt from 56 yards was blocked.
Arizona took the lead early in the third quarter courtesy of an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to Zach Ertz. That connection made it 17-14 in favor of the Cardinals with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The Vikings wasted no time in getting the lead back, courtesy of a 7-yard touchdown run from Alexander Mattison. That marked the first touchdown the Vikings have scored in the third quarter this season, and was set up by a brilliant catch from Justin Jefferson. That gave Minnesota the lead back at 21-17 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.
It took Minnesota just two plays to get the ball back, as Murray threw a pass well short of Robbie Anderson that was intercepted by Harrison Smith for a turnover to set the Vikings up in Arizona territory.
Minnesota took advantage of the turnover, as Dalvin Cook got into the scoring column on a 4-yard run. That gave the Vikings a 28-17 lead with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
Arizona wasted no time getting back into the end zone, taking just a minute and forty seconds to score another touchdown. This time the recipient was Rondale Moore, who took a short pass from Murray and went 38 yards for a score. Arizona went for two and was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 28-23 with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter.
The next possession was a disaster for the Vikings, as Kirk Cousins was strip-sacked by linebacker Isaiah Simmons, with Simmons recovering the fumble at the Minnesota 24-yard line. The Vikings’ defense stood firm after the turnover, though, limiting the Cardinals to a 34-yard Matt Prater field goal to keep the lead, 28-26.
The Vikings’ offense went three-and-out on their next possession, but the punt from Ryan Wright was muffed by Greg Dortch and Troy Dye recovered it at the Minnesota 25. The Vikings turned it into more points, as Cousins found K.J. Osborn from five yards out to make the lead 34-26. . .and that’s where it stayed as Greg Joseph’s extra point bounced off of the upright.
Minnesota forced another turnover on Arizona’s next possession, as Murray was intercepted by Camryn Bynum to stop what could have potentially been an Arizona scoring drive to keep the Vikings’ lead at 8.
The Vikings went three-and-out and gave Arizona the ball back with about four minutes left in regulation, but the Vikings’ defense stood up again as Jordan Hicks, the former Cardinal, stopped Eno Benjamin short of a first down on a pass from Murray to force a turnover on downs. Arizona got another chance when the Vikings went three-and-out again and had to punt it away after the two-minute warning, starting at their own 13-yard line with no timeouts remaining and 1:52 on the clock.
Arizona pushed into Minnesota territory, but Za’Darius Smith collected his third sack of the day on Murray and the Cardinals had no timeouts remaining, and the clock ran out when Harrison Phillips got to Murray on the next play.
Another wild one for the Vikings, but they hold on for a win to move to 6-1 with a trip to play the Washington Commanders on the horizon for next week. Arizona falls to 3-5 on the season and hosts the Seattle Seahawks next week.
The good guys win another one, as the Minnesota Vikings knock off the Arizona Cardinals by a final score of 34-26. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of today’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!