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Jackson takes advantage of start with four TDs to help Vikes steamroll Cards

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Watching from the sidelines all those weeks turned out to be just what Tarvaris Jackson needed.

When he got another chance to start on Sunday, everything came so much easier.

Playing in place of injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson threw for four touchdowns and the Minnesota Vikings beat NFC West champion Arizona 35-14 to stay alone atop the NFC North.

"People ask me did watching Gus help," Jackson said. "I can't really point out exactly what helped. But I felt like I've come a long ways since I've been watching him the last what, 12 or 13 weeks."

Adrian Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries, his franchise record ninth 100-yard game of the season for the Vikings (9-5), who won their fourth in a row. In the process, Peterson broke Minnesota's single-season rushing record with two games to play. The Vikings can clinch the division title with another victory or loss by Chicago.

Bernard Berrian scored Minnesota's first two touchdowns -- on an 82-yard punt return and 41-yard reception -- as the Vikings led 21-0 in the first quarter and 28-0 at the half.

Jackson, who lost his starting job two games into the season, had touchdown passes of 41, 6, 11 and 59 yards. The last was to Bobby Wade in the waning seconds of the third quarter after Arizona had cut the lead to 28-14. Jackson was 11-for-17 for 163 yards.

"He looked real good," Peterson said. "He looked poised, he looked comfortable out there. He made some big plays."

But don't even ask coach Brad Childress about whether Jackson will start even when Frerotte is healthy. A reporter didn't even get the question out before Childress cut him off.

"Don't even go there," Childress said. "It's a nice luxury to have two guys. We've said all the way along we're probably going to need a couple to get it done."

Arizona (8-6) fell flat a week after clinching its first division title in 33 years. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett called it "a lackadaisical effort."

The Cardinals lost at home for the second time this season in the team's most one-sided defeat there in Ken Whisenhunt's two seasons as coach.

"It appeared to me in the game that we did not come out ready to play," Whisenhunt said. "That's something we had concerns about because we hadn't handled success that well in the past."

Minnesota put pressure on Kurt Warner all afternoon to hold down an Arizona passing game ranked No. 2 in the NFL. Warner was 29-of-45 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

"We don't have any room for letdowns or games like this. We've got to keep getting better," Warner said. "But that's a good football team, good on the offensive and defensive lines, and I think that's where this game was really won and lost today."

And it was never really close.

After Anquan Boldin dropped a pass that would have been a first down for the Cardinals, Berrian took the punt down the left sideline 82 yards for the score. The next time Arizona had the ball, Warner overthrew Steve Breaston, who could only tip it, and Cedric Griffin's one-handed interception gave Minnesota the ball at the Cardinals 47.

Jackson threw a perfect lob down the right sideline on third-and-15 to Berrian for a 41-yard touchdown and it was 14-0 with 6:39 still to go in the first.

Arizona turned it over again the next time, too. Boldin was stripped of the ball by Antoine Winfield and Darren Sharper returned the fumble 20 yards to the Cardinals 23. Six plays later, again on third down, Jackson threw 6 yards to Sidney Rice to put Minnesota up 21-0 with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Then the Vikings turned to their potent ground game. Peterson ran 32 yards on second-and-20 at the Minnesota 9 line to ignite a 12-play, 91-yard drive that used up 7:06 and ended with Jackson's 11-yard TD pass to Chester Taylor.

Jerheme Urban broke free on a 50-yard scoring pass play from Warner on the third play of the second half to make it 28-7. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie blocked Ryan Longwell's 35-yard field goal try and Rod Hood returned it 68 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 28-14.

But there would be no comeback. Wade faked out cornerback Hood and was wide open down the right sideline for 59 yards and the score that made it a 21-point game.

The Vikings entered the game 3-4 on the road, but a lot of people from Minnesota move to the desert.

Childress said he asked his team before the game "Where do we play our best ball?"

"And they said 'Home,'" Childress said. "I said, 'You see all those purple jerseys in the stands out there?' I said, 'It's going to be a home environment. We're going to make it a home environment.' I was glad we were able to do that."

Game notes
Minnesota DT Pat Williams left the game in the second quarter after aggravating a shoulder injury. Williams has been playing because a federal judge in Minnesota issued an injunction blocking his league suspension for violating the subtance abuse policy. ... Arizona must win one of its last two to avoid a second straight 8-8 season. ... Matt Leinart was in the last series for the Cardinals, just the second time he's played this season. The other was mop-up duty in Game 2 against Miami.