Facing an offense featuring Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, and Visanthe Shiancoe is not easy task, but the Cardinals defense rose to the challenge and out played the Vikings offense Sunday night. The defensive line was stellar, limiting the best running back in the league and pressuring Brett Favre behind a very good offensive line. The secondary limited the Vikings quick receivers and intercepted two of Favre's passes. Let's take a look at each part of the defense.
Defensive line: The defensive line of the Arizona Cardinals was relentless on Sunday, often pressuring Brett Favre and forcing early throws. They added 3 sacks to their team total and Favre and offense was never in sync because of that. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell continue to dominate at their respective positions and Dockett is not far from heading to another pro bowl. The best part of the game was the fact that the Cardinals front three were able to consistently pressure Favre and slow the run without having to bring added pressure from the linebackers. If the Cardinals can continue this success and mix up their defensive schemes, they'll be one of the toughest teams to beat come playoff time.
Linebackers: The Arizona Cardinals linebackers all played through injury yet you couldn't tell looking at their performance. A huge step forward for this unit was stopping Adrian Peterson, also known as "All Day". Peterson carried the ball 13 times and only recorded 19 rushing yards. One of his carries went for 11 yards which means Peterson had 12 carries that went for 8 yards(ouch!). The biggest surprise came from Karlos Dansby, who dropped into coverage as a safety several times throughout the game. One of those times payed off, as Dansby intercepted a desperation throw by Favre.
Defensive backs: The Cardinals secondary redeemed themselves after the 99 yard game winner in Tennessee. They blanketed some of the quickest receivers in the game and kept Favre from finding his favorite target Sidney Rice(7,72) as much as he would've liked. Perhaps the most improved aspect was their ability to stop a Vikings comeback. In the second half of the game, the Vikings were forced to abandon the run and pass the ball more. The Cardinals secondary didn't let up, stepping up on 3rd downs and also forcing two picks out of Brett. The secondary also beefed up on run support, often swarming the line of scrimmage after every hand off.
My defensive grade: A
Final Thoughts: The last touchdown of the game was more of a garbage time play, but either way, the Cardinals defense dominated Vikings in every which way. They were fearless against the run, and forced Brett Favre to make more mistakes then he had all year. What grade did you give the defense and why?