The Minnesota Vikings continue their fiery hot streak, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 34-26. The Vikings move to 6-1, while Arizona falls to 3-5. Even though this was another game that ended within one possession, it didn’t feel as close as the score eludes. Why? Well, the Vikings finally played like a team that’s only lost a single game so far. Both units had a strong day for the most part, and managed to hold on for the win.
Offense is up first and, being completely honest, had one of their best and most balanced games so far. Outside of one strip sack on Kirk Cousins, it was awesome to watch this team really be in their element for the majority of the match. Dalvin Cook had 111 yards and a touchdown, Kirk threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and Justin Jefferson continues to build his case as a top three wide receiver with 98 yards. Also, KIRK COUSINS TOUCHDOWN RUN? FROM 17 YARDS OUT? I have no idea how he turned the corner or where that sudden speed came from, but it was peak football, truly poetry in motion. The ball got spread around as well, with Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Cook, and Irv Smith Jr. all having at least four catches on the day. This is winning football, and I hope we can keep playing it.
Defense is next, and this game was a massive game for one player specifically: Patrick Peterson. His first opportunity at a revenge game went great for him with three passes defended, at least two of them being near-interceptions. However, Minnesota’s defense did get two actual interceptions, one from Harrison Smith and one from Camryn Bynum. If I had to pick one person that really ripped the Cardinals into bits, though, I’d have to take Za’Darius Smith. Remember when Packers fans “warned us” about him? How he was a terrible teammate, that we overpaid him? He nabbed three sacks, three QB hits, four tackles for loss, and a pass defended. He’s been, in my opinion, the biggest impact player for this defense in recent games. For a team that struggles in coverage and with tackling (the latter rearing its ugly head in this game multiple times), a player that can repeatedly pressure the quarterback is invaluable.
Special teams was a mixed bag today, but still mostly positive. Ryan Wright keeps impressing myself and everyone dorky enough to care about punting stats, averaging 46.6 yards per punt today. Greg Joseph is a polar opposite to Wright, meaning I’m concerned with his recent performances. He missed the only field goal he attempted (56 yards) and missed another extra point attempt. If you’re Minnesota, you’ve got to fix this issue before it really bites you in a critical situation.
Overall, like I said in the intro, this game was a great showing for what this team can look like when both sides of the ball are constantly changing who plays well and who does their best impression of the 2017 Cleveland Browns. If we can build on these types of performance and hopefully add a piece or two before the trade deadline arrives, I’ll be much more confident in this team’s abilities moving forward.