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3 Stats That Stood Out: Cardinals at Vikings

The Vikings on Sunday

defeated the Cardinals 27-17 behind their most prolific day of running the football in two-plus seasons, a solid day of throwing the football, a dominant defensive effort and playing cleanly on special teams.

Latavius Murray had a career-best 155 rushing yards, and Minnesota netted 195 yards on 32 carries (6.1 average). It was the most rushing yards by the Vikings since Dec. 27, 2015, when they totaled 218 against the Giants.

The defense didn't allow Arizona a conversion on any of the 10 third downs that the Cardinals faced and played the game on Vikings terms.

Here are three stats that stood out.

1. 129 rush yards on five plays

The Cardinals entered Week 6 ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (142.4) but a respectable 17th in yards allowed per rush attempt (4.1). The Vikings average of 6.1 yards per run obliterated the NFL average of 4.2 and was inflated heavily by explosive gains on five runs.

Murray rushed for 26 yards before reaching the end zone on a 21-yard touchdown that featured a nasty stiff-arm by the "Tay Train." He also had runs of 34 yards in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth quarter.

Rookie Mike Boone also rushed for 20 yards on his lone carry of the day.

Minnesota's rushing total on those five plays was a whopping 129 yards.

2. Efficiency beyond Thielen's 'Mighty' day

Kirk Cousins delivered an impassioned pregame speech and backed it up for the second straight week. Cousins wasn't perfect — he took a chance on a pass that was intercepted and suffered a fumble lost during one of four sacks by the Cardinals — but he was efficient in the passing game and added a nifty 7-yard touchdown run.

Cousins finished 24-of-34 passing for 233 yards with a passing touchdown for a passer rating of 87.0.

The quarterback liked the matchups that Adam Thielen was getting against the Cardinals. Thielen caught 11 passes for 123 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown on a route against a linebacker, on 15 targets.

Cousins also was efficient when targeting receivers Laquon Treadwell (four catches, 38 yards on four targets) and Stefon Diggs (three catches, 33 yards on five targets) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (four catches, 37 yards on four targets).

That's 108 yards on 11-of-13 passing with a choose-good-options approach.

Minnesota's 17 unanswered points from late in the second quarter until midway through the third quarter and the explosive gains in the ground game allowed the Vikings to be a little less aggressive than they've needed to be in earlier games this season.

Cousins was 6-of-8 passing for 59 yards in the second half.

3. Quality and starting points of possessions

The Cardinals lost the field position battle throughout the day.

Arizona had three of its 13 possessions begin at its own 7-yard line or worse and eight drives start at or inside its own 25.

The Vikings began inside their own 7 one time, after stuffing the Cardinals on a fourth-and-goal from the Minnesota 1 early in the second quarter.

Not counting a kickoff return just before halftime, Arizona had eight possessions of 12 last five or fewer plays.

The Vikings had eight possessions last five or more plays, including six of eight in the first half.

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