The Minnesota Vikings were in a vulnerable position at halftime, but they took care of that quickly with a decisive start to the third quarter and a late defensive stand to win 27-17 at home.
Adam Thielen? He’s still good.
Arguably the league’s top wideout through six weeks broke the game open with four catches on Minnesota’s touchdown drive to open the second half. Thielen’s spectacular diving catch on third and 13 kept the drive alive, and his touchdown five plays later gave the Vikings their first two-possession lead. Thielen added to his modern day NFL record with his sixth game over 100 yards to start the year, finishing with 123 yards.
Kirk Cousins, who scuffled in the first half, ran in another touchdown in the third quarter on a read-option play, and the rout was on. Cousins’ scamper was set up by Latavius Murray’s 34-yard run, his third of four runs going for 20 or more yards on the day. Murray set a career high with 155 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry, as Arizona allowed their fifth out of six opponents to rush for over 100 yards.
Minnesota’s defense stifled Josh Rosen in his third career start, holding the Cardinals to five three and outs and zero third down conversions. Rosen finished 21 of 31 for 240 yards and an interception. He connected on a pair of deep balls early on to put the Cardinals in the red zone, but Arizona came away with just three combined points after the completions.
The Vikings blitzed Rosen creatively and frequently, bringing pressure from the edges with their defensive backs as Mackensie Alexander and Harrison Smith each brought down the rookie passer. Discounting an Arizona defensive touchdown, the Vikings allowed just 10 points.
It wasn’t all peachy through the first 30 minutes, though. Cousins had a topsy-turvy first half with three sacks, one interception and a fumble that was recovered by Budda Baker for a touchdown — Cousins’ fourth straight game with a lost fumble. He also finished the game with six batted passes.
He got some redemption before halftime, however, leading the Vikings on a last-second field goal drive that gave them a 13-10 halftime lead.
The Vikings also scored points off a Cardinals turnover in the first half, recording Dan Bailey’s first field goal following Anthony Barr’s forced fumble of David Johnson. Arizona nearly cashed in after Cousins interception, but Steve Wilks elected to go for it from fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. The Vikings held, continuing a trend of Minnesota’s stoutness near the goal line. They also forced turnovers against San Francisco and Philadelphia inside the 10-yard line.
Barr had a tremendous first half with numerous run stops, a batted pass on a third down blitz, a terrific rush that cleared the way for Danielle Hunter to earn a sack and, as mentioned, a forced fumble. Altogether, the Vikings defense looked like its usual self at home, only bending in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Rookie CB Mike Hughes went down in the fourth with an apparent left leg injury and was taken back to the locker room.
Stay tuned to ZoneCoverage.com for more coverage of Minnesota’s win over Arizona.