Minnesota Vikings: Turnovers spoil upset bid vs. Cardinals


The Minnesota Vikings entered Thursday night as big underdogs against the Arizona Cardinals, and were almost able to pull off the improbable upset before turnovers doomed them.

If somebody would’ve told me before the game that the Vikings would only lose this game by three points, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. There were no signs that pointed to a Minnesota victory, and endless signs that pointed to an Arizona blowout. Not only was it a road national television game (which the Vikings have only won one of in the last 16 tries), but they were also missing their three best defensive players due to injury in Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith.

Part of me wants to simply be happy about the Vikings playing well enough to take this one down to the wire.

But, man, even though Minnesota always loses in these super crazy depressing ways, they never get any easier to deal with. When it was all said and done, the Cardinals edged the Vikings by a score of 23-20.

The game-clinching play came late in the fourth quarter, when Cardinals defensive end Dwight Freeney strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater with ten seconds remaining. The worst part about this play is that the Vikings were most certainly in Blair Walsh’s field goal range, and an incomplete pass would’ve given Walsh a chance at a 49-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

However, that turnover isn’t the only big turnover that cost the Vikings points.

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Late in the first quarter, Minnesota had put together a nine-play, 74-yard drive and were entering the red zone. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found Jarius Wright over the middle for a short completion, but Wright fumbled at Arizona’s 15-yard line. Missed opportunity.

Then, on the first drive of the third quarter, the Vikings had just crossed midfield during a six-play, 28-yard drive. On 2nd and 5 from the Arizona 35-yard line, offensive coordinator Norv Turner dials up a reverse play for Mike Wallace. The Cardinals disrupted the play in the backfield and running back Adrian Peterson fumbled, resulting in yet another drive into Arizona territory that resulted in no points.

So, if you’re counting at home, that’s three times the Vikings lost a fumble today in Cardinals territory.

Teddy Bridgewater had his best game of the season, completing 25 of 36 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. Time and again, he shows incredible pocket presence and poise for a second-year quarterback and he repeatedly showed it tonight.

Adrian Peterson started off strongly running the football, but sputtered in the second half as Arizona really buckled down. Overall, he finished with 69 yards rushing on 23 carries and one touchdown.

Mike Wallace is still on the Vikings, apparently. He tallied three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was the first Vikings offensive touchdown from somebody other than Adrian Peterson in four games.

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Kyle Rudolph (six receptions for 67 yards) and Wright (five catches for 51 yards) were also key contributors on the offensive side.

Defensively, Chad Greenway, Anthony Harris (who made his first career start at safety), and Eric Kendricks all made eight total tackles to lead Minnesota. Everson Griffen was also a force, getting constant pressure on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer all night long and recording one sack.

Palmer had a fantastic evening throwing the ball for the Cardinals, completing 25 of 35 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He took advantage of a depleted secondary that included two rookies making their first career start (Harris and Trae Waynes), and another player making a start at a different position (Terence Newman at safety).

David Johnson rushed 19 times for 92 yards to lead the Cardinals rushing attack, which was effective enough to keep the Vikings guessing for the entire game.

Michael Floyd (five receptions for 102 yards) and John Brown (four receptions for 78 yards) led the receivers for the Cardinals.

Overall, it’s a tough loss to swallow, especially considering how the playoff picture would’ve changed with a win. Alas, the Vikings again lose in heartbreaking fashion, a theme that’s oh so popular for these fans.

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One thing I’d like to note – this game turned out to be eerily similar to the Week 4 loss at Denver. Not only was the score the exact same, but the plot of the game is the same. In both games, Minnesota trailed 20-10 before making a run to tie the game at 20. Then, after giving up a field goal, Bridgewater led a drive into opponent’s territory before a strip-sack ended both games.

That’s really weird, man. Really weird.

Anyway, continue to check in with Sporting Sota for news and analysis on the Minnesota Vikings throughout this week and next week before the Vikings take on the Chicago Bears in Week 15.