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Sunday, October 9, 2011
Wrap-up: Vikings 34, Cardinals 10

By Mike Sando

Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 34-10 road defeat against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5:

What it means: The Cardinals are 1-4 heading into their bye week and looking like a team that is regressing. Falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter against an 0-4 team reflects poorly on Arizona coaches and players alike. Quarterback Kevin Kolb contributed to the problems early and will rightfully face tough questions about his production to this point in the season. Arizona has now gone 3-13 in its last 16 games under Ken Whisenhunt, who will also face some tough questions in the weeks ahead.

What I liked: The Cardinals turned the 28-0 deficit through one quarter into a 28-10 score by the third quarter. They stopped the bleeding, in other words, but by then the damage was done. Beanie Wells, who entered the game leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns, added another one in this game.

What I didn't like: Arizona set up the Vikings in prime field position repeatedly in the first quarter. The Cardinals lost the punting and punt-coverage game early, allowing Minnesota to begin its first two drives at its own 42 and at the Arizona 18. Kolb's interception and lost fumble on a sack gave the Vikings possession in Cardinals territory two more times. A fourth-quarter pick compounded Kolb's problems. When Arizona tried to get something going in the second quarter, rookie tight end Rob Housler dropped a play-action strike from Kolb for what should have been a decent gain. An Arizona defense that had struggled mostly against the pass had no answer for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' ground game. Peterson topped 100 yards rushing and scored three first-half touchdowns. The Cardinals' inability to get Larry Fitzgerald more involved was another problem.

Lay off the line, a little: Ripping the Cardinals' offensive line for poor second-half pass protection would be easy, but protecting the passer in the Metrodome while trailing by a wide margin is tough duty for any team. The Cardinals also lost left guard Daryn Colledge, arguably their best offensive lineman, to a head injury.

Historic performance: The Cardinals became the 11th team since 1940 to allow 28 or more point while scoring none in a first quarter, according to Pro Football Reference.

What's next: The Cardinals have a bye in Week 6 before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at University of Phoenix Stadium.