Minnesota Vikings Beat the Arizona Cardinals 21-14 [GAME SUMMARY + STATS]
Week 7 in the NFL brought the Minnesota Vikings back home after a loss at the hands of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. The Vikings (4-2) welcome home Minnesota natives Larry Fitzgerald Jr. and Michael Floyd along with the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are also coming off a loss last week, being led into this game by backup quarterback John Skelton.
Coming into the game, the Vikings lead the all-time series between the two clubs 14-10. The Vikings are 8-4 at home in the series, and look to extend that series lead to another win.
The game opened with a Percy Harvin return for what could have been a touchdown, had it not been called back on a holding penalty Following that, the Vikings offense stalled out on their opening drive. Making up for the missed opportunity, the Vikings let Adrian Peterson loose through the remainder of the quarter. Peterson amassed 45 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, with the longest of his 5 attempts being a 27 yard sprint. That rushing touchdown, part of the 88-yard drive, was the only score of the first quarter of the game.
In the early minutes of the second quarter, with the Vikings offense back agains their own endzone, Christian Ponder evaded a sack with a scramble but overthrew Kyle Rudolph on the play and getting intercepted by Paris Lenon. The prime field position led to a LaRod Stevens-Howling touchdown and a tie ballgame.
Minnesota responded with 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to Percy Harvin, bringing the game to 14-7. The drive included a couple of big runs (17 yards 12 yards) for Adrian Peterson, adding to his numbers for the day. The first half ended on Christian Ponder throwing an interception to Arizona linebacker Sam Acho, Ponder’s 2nd of the day and 6th of the season.
At the half, Peterson had amassed 92 yards on 11 attempts, most of the 105 rushing yards earned in the first half of the game for Minnesota.
Opening the second half, rookie safety Harrison Smith intercepted a John Skelton pass and returned it 31 yards for his first NFL touchdown. The pick was also Smith’s first as a pro. In the third quarter, Adrian Peterson surpassed 100 rushing yards on the day; marking his 29th 100+ yard rushing performance in a game. This ties Peterson with Robert Smith for the most 100+ yard games among all Vikings rushers.
The third quarter ended with only score for either team being Smith’s interception returned for a touchdown. Each team had turned the ball over twice through the game through three quarters of play with the score 21-7 in favor of the Vikings.
Defense and field position became the name of the game for the Vikings as Arizona looked to come back from a 14 point deficit. Minnesota’s defense made a few solid stops, but was overcome by the Cardinals just inside the 2 minute warning as Arizona capped off a 7 play, 79-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass from John Skelton to Andre Roberts; bringing the game to 21-14 in favor of Minnesota. After the Vikings regained possession, they ran the clock down to the final seconds before allowing Adrian Peterson one more run to tack on 8 more yards as time expired.
The Vikings ended the game with 166 rushing yards and 43 passing yards. Adrian Peterson ended the game with 153 yards on 23 attempts with 1 touchdown and a 6.7 yard average per carry. Christian Ponder ended the game connecting on 8 of 17 passes with 1 touchdown (Harvin) and 2 interceptions.
The Vikings defense ended the game with 7 sacks, a forced fumble, and 1 interception that was also returned for a touchdown. The sack breakdown falls as follows: Brian Robison (3), Jared Allen (2), Antoine Winfield (1), Kevin Williams (1). The fumble was forced by Brian Robison and recovered by Kevin Williams. The interception was made by Harrison Smith, and it was his first NFL interception and first NFL touchdown.
The Vikings (5-2) will wait to see if the Chicago Bears lose to the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. If the Bears (4-1) lose, the Vikings remain tied for first place in the NFC North. If the Bears win, they claim sole possession of the division.
Minnesota will have a short week to recover and prepare for their next game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) come to Mall of America Field for Thursday Night Football this week.