With just one win between the two teams coming into this game, making something happen on the field was of vital importance.
Minnesota continued their trend of starting off fast—putting 28 points on the board in the first quarter—and then stalling once they had established a commanding lead.
Arizona continued to struggle both offensively and defensively. Unlike other teams that have come from behind and dismantled the lackluster Vikings in the later part of the game, the Cardinals simply were not able to make any magic happen on the field.
In the following seven slides, we will review some things we learned about the Cardinals during this game. Some of these observations are old news, while others became evident today.
For those who weren’t watching, there was a brawl on the field in the first quarter.
Multiple-person fights have much less place in the NFL than they do in other team sports. They do nothing to turn the tide of momentum in favor of one team or the other.
Instead, it just looks stupid when both teams crowd the field and get in each others’ faces making mean looks at each other.
From the Vikings’ first punt where Patrick Peterson allowed the ball to sail over his head and pin the team deep in the Cardinals’ territory, it was clear that the Cardinals’ special teams play was not where it should have been today.
As we have seen in the past four weeks, the Cardinals’ success on the field is tied pretty closely to the performance of their special teams units. That trend continued today.
When the special teams unit struggled through the first quarter, so did the Cardinals. Small tweaks and improvements in the second quarter and beyond heralded a somewhat resurgent offense and a much stingier defense.
Too bad it was too little too late for the Cardinals.
Kevin Kolb was the first quarterback on the field to complete a pass. Too bad it was to the other team.
Tack another three interceptions and a lost fumble on to Kevin Kolb’s total, all of which translated to 17 points for the Vikings.
He has now thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes over five games. Heck, he’s had more fumbles than touchdown passes; it’s just that his team has been bailing him out by recovering some of those.
Excuse him all you want. Sure, he’s learning a new offense. Sure, he’s still getting his footing as a starter in the NFL. Sure, he didn’t have the benefit of the offseason with his new team.
But the fact is that we have now passed the Week 5 mark and if anything Kolb is getting worse. At some point, even those who still have faith in Kolb are going to have to acknowledge that he’s not living up to his potential.
The Cardinals’ first series of the game featured two pass plays and a single run. The run was successful; the pass plays were not. In fact, Kevin Kolb is fortunate that his second pass attempt of the day wasn’t intercepted by Minnesota’s hungry defense.
This trend repeated itself time and again throughout the game.
As easy as it is to blame the quarterback and his poor decision-making (which is certainly a factor), it’s not just on Kevin Kolb.
Despite decent performances from four different receivers and a tight end, there were way too many catchable balls that were dropped. There were too many blown routes, and too few attempts to get open to extend the play.
The quarterback can help his receivers by throwing catchable balls, but he cannot make them go the extra mile that is required to win in the NFL. The Cardinals really demonstrated that today.
The Cardinals defense has suffered from fatigue in the past. It has been one of their Achilles heels in previous games, as they’ve been worn down and given up crucial points late in games.
There are key problems with their defense that cannot be ignored or excused, but there is one thing that they cannot control: Time on the field.
With the offense hemorrhaging the ball in the first half of the game, the defense barely had time to catch its breath, let alone adjust its game plan to accommodate Adrian Peterson’s dominating performance.
Combined with the short field the offense was handing over, the defense was set up to fail.
By the time the offense managed to sustain a drive for more than a minute in the second quarter, the damage was already done. The Cardinals had already dug themselves a hole they would never be able to climb out of.
Adrian Peterson was perhaps the best litmus test to-date for the Arizona Cardinals’ unexpectedly resurgent run defense.
The Cardinals were finally exposed in this part of their defense, too.
Throughout the game, the Cardinals were unable to contain Peterson, who ran all over them for 122 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
At the end of the day, the Cardinals gave up around 175 yards on the ground in addition to the 170 they allowed through in the air.
Given how short the field was for the Vikings after the offense’s numerous turnovers, it’s no wonder that the Cards were blown out.
The Cardinals were able to bring down the number of penalties that they committed in this game. Too bad they weren’t able to contain themselves when it was most important.
Most of the five penalties that the Cardinals committed came at inopportune times.
Time and again, penalties either prevented the Cardinals from gaining a first down or scoring points on offense, or extending drives for the Vikings on defense.