Cardinals vs. Vikings: Harrison Smith's Pick-6 Was the Tipping Point in the Win

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2012

There were a lot of moments that added up to this Minnesota Vikings win, but the biggest one was the pick-six by rookie Harrison Smith.

It took place in the third quarter, with the Vikings leading by just one touchdown and the Arizona Cardinals beginning to drive for what they were hoping would be the game-tying score.

Throughout the game, the Vikings front four were able to terrorize Cardinals quarterback John Skelton. 

It was more than the seven times they sacked Skelton, but the immeasurable number of times they were in the backfield pressuring him.

This interception was the result of one such pressure:

On the play, receiver Early Doucet ran to about the 32 and then cut inward on a slow drag. He was well covered on the route, though he did have inside position.

Smith dropped back a little bit, playing a sort of center-field position. 

The pressure came from behind and through the right side, which forced Skelton forward into even more pressure.

When Skelton starts to move, Smith runs forward, both shadowing Doucet's route and watching Skelton in case he runs.

At about the line of scrimmage, something makes Skelton think he had Doucet open.

Looking at the screencap here, Smith is a bit behind the receiver. Skelton should have seen him and not thrown the ball, or at least not to Doucet.

Maybe he thought he could fit it in a really tight window, or maybe he didn't see Smith. Maybe he just freaked out.

Even if Smith hadn't stepped in from of the pass, the coverage was very good, so part of me is leaning toward the last choice there, because if, after all his struggles, Skelton thought he was beating that coverage, he has more confidence than sense, and I find that hard to believe.

Smith picked off the pass and was off to the races. There were several players who got a hand on the rookie, but he was able to slip the tackles very easily.

The score was the dagger in Arizona's heart. Sure, they scored a little while later, but the game was basically decided at that point.

Skelton started to hold the ball too long, afraid to throw the football into coverage but also not wanting to take the sack. Pure paralysis by analysis on too many downs.

It also re-energized the Vikings as a team. The defense was fired up from that point on and sacked Skelton five times after the interception.

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