The Vikings bounced back after the blowout loss to the Seahawks and looked like a playoff caliber team. The Cardinals, on the other hand, may not have necessarily struggled, but they seemed to never fall into a rhythm.
Guess who had the better stat line, Adrian Peterson or David Johnson? That's right. Johnson had 19 carries for 92 yards at 4.8 yards per carry while Peterson finished 23 rushes for 69 carries. Johnson showed great patience in letting holes develop in the line and physically pounded the ball for as many yards he could.
Palmer hit eight different receivers for a 71% completion rate and no turnovers. Michael Floyd and John Brown both scored the two team touchdowns off of huge catch and run gains. But it wasn't just them, Darren Fells, Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson and even right guard Mike Iupati had catches to set first downs and keep the Cardinals moving.
In the first half the defense struggled to contain Adrian Peterson, he had 39 rushing yards on Minnesota's first drive alone, but the defense was able to hold him to just 16 yards on 11 rushes in the second half for a game total of 23 carries for 69 yards. It certainly wasn't as good as the Seahawks, but like every loss this year holding Peterson to under 100 yards was key.
The final was decided by three points. With four field goals total the reliability of Catanzaro to hit everything from 23 yard chip shot to the game winning 47-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the game was absolutely key to the Cardinals win.
Defensive play-calling / Pass defense
Teddy Bridgewater had a career best 25 of 36 for 336 yards for 1 touchdown and a QB rating of 108. The majority came from short passes over the middle or screen passes taking advantage especially when the Cardinals were all out blitzing him. However, while Bettcher may have continued being too aggressive much of the blame falls onto the linebackers and safeties for blowing the coverage when they failed to recognize the plays.
Minnesota exposed the weakness of the Cardinals defense and the defense now needs to make sure the Eagles don't do the same in ten days.
Arizona still hasn't put together a full four quarters of good football in weeks. Frankly though, this might have been the closest they have come it is just that the Vikings played amazing tonight. They looked like a playoff team.
Red Zone scoring
The Cardinals got into the red zone twice tonight. One was to the two yard line, but both times they came away with field goals. I've already said the Vikings played great, but the Cardinals have too much talent to be shut out in the red zone. If they want to win the Super Bowl, they will have to get better at scoring outside of their big plays.
The Cardinals never were able to find their rhythm on offense yesterday. Every time they began to move the ball down the field they would have a few poor runs or errant throws to stall the drives. Hopefully, some of this can be chalked up to a short week and tough schedule, but it doesn't get any easier after this 10 day break. Hopefully, they'll be ready for an Eagles team hunting for the playoffs in a week.