The Vikings took care of business on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, downing the Arizona Cardinals by a count of 27-17 to improve their record to 3-2-1. Here are five takeaways from Sunday's win over Arizona.
1. Danielle keeps dominating
Like a freight train coming down the tracks, Danielle Hunter is coming for the quarterback and, through the first six games at least, he cannot be stopped. Hunter put Josh Rosen on the ground twice on Sunday, running his season sack total up to 7.0 and extending his consecutive games with a sack streak to six. It's notable that Hunter has continued this tear without the presence of fellow elite pass rusher Everson Griffen on the other side.
2. Latavius Murray helps run Vikings to victory
Speaking of a train on the tracks, Latavius Murray kept the Vikings offense on track by continuously pounding away at Arizona's run defense. Murray finished with 155 yards on 24 attempts, including the Viking first rushing touchdown of the season. He had runs of 21 (touchdown), 26, 28 and 34 yards, finally helping the Vikings rushing attack explode. The 28-yard run came on 3rd and 4 late in the game and served as the game-clinching run because it allowed the Vikings to use the victory formation on the next snap.
3. Thielen keeps dealin'
No matter what the defense does or who draws the assignment, Adam Thielen is unstoppable. On Sunday against Arizona, Thielen was targeted 15 times and came away with 11 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. It's the sixth consecutive game for Thielen with 100+ receiving yards, which is a NFL record, and it was his third game with 10+ catches on the season; the Vikings single-season record for 10-catch games is four by Cris Carter (twice). Lined up wide, in the slot, motioning, shifting…no matter what the offense does with Thielen, it works.
4. Vikings seized control in key 8:35 stretch
The game is not ultimately won until the clock reads 00:00 after the 4th quarter. But because of precise execution, the Vikings took command of the game and established an insurmountable lead by the time the clock read 6:42 in the 3rd quarter. It began late in the 2nd quarter, when the Vikings drove 36 yards in seven plays and 1:13 to tack on a 48-yard field goal and take a 13-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Vikings then scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the 3rd quarter – a 13-yard laser to Thielen on a stutter-and-go – to take a 20-10 lead and followed that up by forcing a three-and-out and then scoring on the ensuing possession on a seven-yard run by quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Cousins touchdown run and subsequent extra point staked the Vikings to a 27-10 lead.
5. Stuff to clean up before heading to face the NY Jets
Sunday was a great day for the Vikings. They won their second consecutive game to move to 3-2-1 on the season and watched NFC North leader Chicago lose in Miami. The offense scored 27 points, the defense was dominant for the majority of the game and kicker Dan Bailey seems to have calmed down what has been a troublesome spot of late; Bailey converted both his field goal tries (from 37 and 48 yards) and was three of three on extra points. But head coach Mike Zimmer and his staff will review the tape and find areas that need correction. Batted passes and four sacks allowed for the offense and some leaks in pass coverage early in the 4th quarter for the defense, as examples. Whatever the corrections are, the Vikings will need to be solid in their preparations this week because they are hitting the road to face a New York Jets team coming off consecutive home wins in which they scored a combined 76 points.