Cardinals vs Vikings: 5 Things We Learned from Minnesota's 34-10 Win

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2011

Cardinals vs Vikings: 5 Things We Learned from Minnesota's 34-10 Win

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    The Minnesota Vikings entered their Week 5 contest against the Arizona Cardinals as low as they've been in a very long time, but the team climbed out of what was fast becoming a self-dug grave and resurrected themselves with a 34-10 victory.

    But what did we learn this week?

    Well, without divulging too much, the biggest lesson we learned was the fact that this team can in fact win games convincingly, which is a huge lesson to learn.

    But you'll have to read further for the remainder of this week's lessons.

Adrian Peterson Is a Beast

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    The guy is a an absolute beast, hands down!

    Before the closing of the first quarter, Peterson had already rumbled into the end-zone three times, against a very good run defense in Arizona.

    But the lesson here is the amount of shiftiness and speed we saw from Peterson, who seemingly played in "extra gear mode" for four quarters.

    It's clear the Vikings have a solid idea in running the offense through Peterson, and it appears through five, that approach is sound, but the lesson here for the coaching staff should've been very simple:

    They didn't abandon the run, and it helped to preserve  yet another lead, for the first time this season.

Vikings Deploy

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    The Vikings came out of the gate in this one with a full head of steam, and a slightly different approach which worked wonders in the early goings.

    The Vikings have not yet been as aggressive on defense as they said they wanted to be back in August until this contest.

    Minnesota blitzed more in the first half than they have all season long yet, bringing guys up the middle, off the ends, and other mixed areas of the field, and it was that constant pressure that had the Arizona passing offense doing their best to settle for the small gains only.

    The Vikings did a superb job bringing so much pressure, so rapidly, that the Cardinals never had a chance to get their deep-ball attack going.

Arizona Needs Work on D

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    The Cardinals entered this game ranked 24th defensively—15th against the run and 26th against the pass—so Minnesota had to know there were going to be great opportunities through the air.

    But the Vikings ran more than they passed int he early goings, and kept Arizona off-kilter for the duration of the first half.

    The Cardinals never found a way to adjust to Minnesota's increased aggression and offensive speed, and they certainly had no answer for themselves in regard to defensive adjustments; an aspect that has plagued them all year.

    The Cardinals are not built to be a team that can consistently come from behind and grab the win, and if they continue down this path defensively, the season will unravel much faster for Cardinals' fans than perhaps previously thought.

The Most Important Lesson of All: Self-Realization

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    Prior to Week 5, anyone could've taken their pick as to what was wrong with this team.

    Before week five, the Vikings converted only 37% of their third down opportunities, had significant issues closing out their leads, kept players on the bench that perhaps should've played more snaps, and otherwise played fast for two quarters, and flat for the other two.

    All of these aspects usually contribute to keeping a team that is already down from ever getting up.

    But Minnesota realized they are nowhere near as bad as their win-less record had suggested, only out of sync.

    Percy Harvin, Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins became more involved, and it paid divedents.

Minnesota Can Compete

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    In every game this season the Vikings have held double digit leads at some point, only to see those leads evaporate right in front of their eyes.

    They've been able to run on teams that perhaps they should not have such as Arizona, and passed against teams that should've shut them down such as San Diego; albeit with limited success.

    The defense has shown that they can get to any quarterback, and if allowed, can really cause a lot of trouble the more aggressively they play.

    In short, this team can compete.

    It's an important lesson for the Vikings to learn because int he NFL, short-term memory reign supreme, whereas long term memory kills.

    The Vikings MUST continue to realize and find faith in their overall team build and design if they are to move forward, and their Week 5 victory was a great starting point.

    The other value to this lesson is the fact that this Vikings team can conceivably beat Chicago and Green Bay and Carolina before heading to the bye, but BELIEVING they can will be the "X"factor.

    The short-term application here is the Vikings need to forget Weeks 1 through 4, savor Week 5, and come to terms that with a little belief, continued solid execution and aggressive play, the Vikings could very easily be 3-4 before their bye putting them right back into the playoff hunt by November.

    It's time to tighten up Minnesota!