After the heart-breaking loss to Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans just a week ago, the Arizona Cardinals understood just how important a win today would be. The Vikings were 10-1 heading into Sunday's game and looked like the most complete team in the NFL.
The game began with a Tim Hightower fumble on the second play of the day. Brett Favre and the Vikings offense easily walked their way down to the 3 yard line on their opening drive. An overturned challenge gave Visanthe Shiancoe a 3 yard touchdown catch to give the Vikings the early lead. After a Steve Breaston 64-yard punt return, Kurt Warner found Anquan Boldin for a two yard score. The Cardinals had their way with the Vikings secondary for most of the game and Kurt Warner threw for 2 more touchdowns to give the Cardinals the win.
- The defense came to play. The Cardinals defense wiped any memory they had of last weeks performance and dominated the Vikings high-powered offense. Adrian Peterson was held to 13 carries for 19 yards, while Brett Favre was picked off twice and had a quarterback rating of 79.4. The Cardinals defensive line also found ways to penetrate into the backfield and sacked Favre 3 times on the night.
- The offensive line protection/blocking was great. Even with starting left tackle Mike Gandy missing the game, back up Jeremy Bridges filled in with an impressive performance. The Cardinals didn't allow one sack to a defensive line featuring Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. A larger part of the success went to the tight end and running back help, something Ken Whisenhunt shied away from at the beginning of the season. The Cardinals also managed to run for 113 yards on the night, something most teams have had trouble achieving against the Vikings defense.
- Kurt Warner showed no signs of post-concussion symtoms.After missing the last 6 quarters of play because of a concussion he suffered three games ago, Kurt Warner had a fantastic night. He was 22 of 32 for 285 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 127.7. Warner was able to read what the defense very well and put the ball on the money throughout the game. With Warner returning, Anquan Boldin had his best game of the season receiving 98 yards with 2 touchdowns.
- The all-red jerseys continue to help. Ken Whisenhunt may want to continue wearing the all-red look. The Cardinals have won their last two home games in dominant fashion and I personally think they look better.
- The Cardinals settled for more field goals then TDs in the red zone. Usually Warner and Co. have no problem putting 7 on the scoreboard when in the red zone. Tonight the Cardinals went 1 for 4 and only scored 9 points in the second half because of that. Luckily the Vikings were not able to keep the game close. Settling for more field goals then touchdowns is not something this team can do if they want to continue winning games.
- Depth in the secondary continues to be a concern.The Cardinals lack of depth/talent beyond Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson, and Antrel Rolle has become a pressing issue the last few games. Bryant McFadden had trouble defending outside passes and Michael Adams size allowed a late touchdown to Percy Harvin. Teams will continue to take advantage if the Cardinals cannot fix this problem.
Overall the Cardinals we all know and love decided to show up on Sunday and played tough enough to beat the red-hot Vikings. Kurt Warner showed why he gives the Cardinals the best chance to win the game, while the defense revealed their true potential. The 49ers also lost today keeping the Cardinals NFC West lead at 3 games, although next week's Monday night football showdown will still be crucial for the Cardinals chances of clinching the division and improving their playoff seeding. What are your thoughts on the game?