Sunday, October 9, 2011
Wrap-up: Vikings 34, Cardinals 10
By Kevin Seifert
A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' first victory of the season, a 34-10 win against the Arizona Cardinals:
What it means: The Vikings avoided the second 0-5 start in franchise history with the first victory in Leslie Frazier's tenure as their permanent coach. (Frazier was 3-3 in an interim capacity last year.) They are now 1-4 heading into a two-game swing through the NFC North.
Salty atmosphere: Sunday might have been the brightest moment of the Vikings' season, but their inability to hold leads to this point made for a nervous and itchy crowd at the Metrodome. Not even a 28-0 first-quarter lead felt safe until midway through the fourth. Fans chanted for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and booed the Vikings off the field at halftime when Frazier was content to take a 28-3 lead to the locker room rather than push the ball upfield.
First-quarter romp: The Vikings' big lead featured three Adrian Peterson touchdowns, but field position was the big story. Three of the four touchdown drives started inside the Cardinals' 26-yard line thanks to a pair of turnovers and a 22-yard punt return from Marcus Sherels. Their fourth scoring drive was aided by a 36-yard pass interference call on a pass that quarterback Donovan McNabb overthrew in the direction of receiver Michael Jenkins.
McNabbWatch: McNabb completed 10 of 21 passes for 166 yards and one rushing touchdown, once again playing below his career standards but well enough to ensure the starting job moving forward.
Edge rushing: The Cardinals couldn't block Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison, each of whom finished with two sacks. Robison also induced an illegal-use-of-hands penalty on right tackle Jeremy Bridges, nullifying a touchdown that would have pulled the Cardinals to 31-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
Personnel changes: Frazier pledged to stay the course after an 0-4 start, but he did make two notable changes. As we've already discussed, receiver Bernard Berrian was deactivated despite not appearing on the injury report this week. We'll let you know how Frazier explains that move. Also, cornerback Cedric Griffin didn't play until the second series for what might have been a disciplinary reason. Griffin, meanwhile, didn't seem worse for the wear after Cardinals tailback Beanie Wells steamrolled him and dislodged his helmet in the second quarter. It was one of the most violent collisions of the NFL season, to be sure.
What's next: The Vikings will play in front of a national television audience next Sunday night at the Chicago Bears.