Vikings-Cardinals Box Score (ESPN)
The optimist: a workmanlike victory
Do not overlook a major reason the Vikings won this game: they held the Arizona Cardinals (and Patrick Peterson) to seven yards on punt returns. Seven yards! It's always good if you hold the team to a number that proper grammar requires you to spell out. And considering how often the Vikings punted (seven times) and from where they were regularly punting (regularly deep in their own territory), the containment of Patrick Peterson gave the Vikings a major field position victory. This was absolutely necessary to winning the game: considering how little the Vikings were able to do offensively in the second half, if the Cardinals were able to get big punt returns for good field position, I think Arizona would have won.
The Vikings had seven sacks, including three from Brian Robison, who was dominant. Antoine Winfield was monstrous tackling today. Harrison Smith continues to make the Vikings look smart for trading into the first round to get him. The Cardinals went 5-14 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down. For some reason LaRod Stephens-Howling had 149 yards from scrimmage, was is...offputting...but I keep picturing Ken Whisenhunt sounding like Superintendent Chalmers yelling at Principle Skinner. "SKELTON!!!!"
Adrian Peterson followed great blocking and his own superb instincts en route to 153 yards. There were great holes opened up for him, and Peterson hit those holes with burst, with agility, with vision. With no support from the passing game, Peterson kept on gashing the Arizona defense. It's the best he's looked in a long time.
The pessimist: a lucky win against a lousy team
You have to be able to pass the ball.
The ineptitude of the Viking passing game today was evident to our eyes, but it is even uglier in the numbers. Christian Ponder averaged 3.4 yards per attempt on his way to 58 #*%&ing yards, and managed two terrible interceptions. The inability to pass the ball at all was a big reason the Vikes went 1-10 on third down and held the ball for a mere 24:55. If not for a heroic performance by the defense, the Vikes would have blown this game because they could not throw the ball for anything. This really appeared like a team effort of ineptitude: the offensive line struggled to pass block, receivers struggled to get open, and Christian Ponder struggled to look even modestly competent with the ball.
Don't hesitate: if you're going to do something, #*%&ing do it.
If you get the ball back with less than a minute before halftime, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether to try for points or run out the clock. But for *@#! sake, there's no reason to consider trying to get one first down just for the hell of it. Either run out the clock or go for broke, but don't mess around with timeouts and dink and dunk shit just to try get to your own 30 with five seconds left. The Cards missed the field goal, but this was terrible game management.
The optimist in me usually wins. I like watching the Vikings get seven sacks. I like seeing the Vikes play perfect coverage on punt returns. I like Adrian Peterson running like the best running back in the league. I like 5-2.