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Vikings-Cardinals Game Observations: Points Off Turnovers Help in 34-26 Win

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings forced three Cardinals turnovers in the second half, including one recovered after a muffed punt and followed two of the takeaways with touchdowns by Minnesota's offense for a 34-26 win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

After Kris Boyd caused initial pressure on Greg Dortch, Kene Nwangwu and Troy Dye hustled after the football. Nwangwu helped keep Dortch from securing the football, and Dye snagged it at the Arizona 25.

The 13 points on possessions that covered just 31 and 25 yards helped sway the day, especially combined with Minnesota forcing a field goal after a fumble forced and recovered by Isaiah Simmons during a sack of Kirk Cousins.

Simmons gave the Cardinals the ball at the Minnesota 24-yard line down 28-23 late in the third quarter, but Arizona was forced to settle for the field goal and was never able to reclaim the lead.

Here are four more observations presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings, followed by a scoring summary:

1. Peterson & Hicks top former team

The Cardinals didn't shy away from trying to attack former cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Peterson was up to the challenge for the most part. He recorded three passes defensed.

Jordan Hicks, who joined Minnesota this spring shortly after Arizona cut him, delivered a critical tackle late in the game, stopping Eno Benjamin for a gain of 3 on a fourth-and-4.

2. Za'Darius & Co.

The Vikings defensive line and outside linebackers got the memo that there's a standard to behold on the day when Jared Allen becomes the 27th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor (and seventh defensive lineman).

Smith caused problems for Arizona throughout the game and finished with 3.0 sacks, including one on the game's penultimate play.

Harrison Phillips followed suit with another sack of Kyler Murray to put the Cardinals away.

In addition to those four sacks against a mobile quarterback, the defense also pressure Murray into throwing two picks.

Harrison Smith snagged his 32nd against the team he recorded his first on back in 2012.

Fellow safety Camryn Bynum also picked off Murray on a throw that was intended for Zach Ertz.

3. Run game rolls

The Vikings were able to establish their run game from the get-go, putting up 42 yards on their first possession, a total boosted with a 17-yard scramble for a touchdown by Kirk Cousins.

Dalvin Cook rushed 20 times for 111 yards and a touchdown in his first 100-yard game of 2022. Alexander Mattison added 40 yards on five carries, highlighted by a strong-man touchdown.

Cousins finished with four carries for 22 yards.

Minnesota outrushed Arizona 173 to 78, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, compared to 3.5 by the Cardinals.

4. Thielen to 3*rd* all-time

Adam Thielen toed the 500-catch milestone but finished his day on 499.

Thielen passed Vikings Ring of Honor member Steve Jordan (498) for third-most in Vikings history and finished with 67 yards.

Justin Jefferson added 98 yards on six catches.

Cousins finished 24-of-36 passing for 232 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 103.0.

Scoring summary

Q1, 10:12 remaining

Vikings 7, Cardinals 0

Kirk Cousins scrambles for 17 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [10 plays, 75 yards, 4:51 time of possession]

Long as a Viking: The scamper by Cousins was his longest rushing touchdown as a Viking and the second longest of his career (19 yards with Washington in 2016). It helped the Vikings total 42 rushing yards on seven carries during their first possession.

Q1, 6:04 remaining

Vikings 7, Cardinals 3

Matt Prater kicks a 44-yard field goal [8 plays, 49 yards, 4:08 time of possession]

Tried to attack Peterson: The Cardinals tried to attack Patrick Peterson, throwing a quick pass to Rondale Moore, who was tackled for no gain, on the first snap. Officials ruled Peterson had done a horse-collar tackle during the play and awarded the 15-yard penalty. Kyler Murray tried to beat Peterson later in the drive with a deep pass to A.J. Green on third-and-7, but Peterson knocked it away to force the field goal.

Q2, 9:54 remaining

Vikings 14, Cardinals 3

Johnny Mundt catches a 1-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [9 plays, 83 yards, 5:00 time of possession]

Reaching the paint: The play clock was winding down, and Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell tried to call timeout. Officials didn't see it, however, and Mundt found an opening in the Arizona defense for his first career touchdown reception (54th game).

Q2, 0:47 remaining

Vikings 14, Cardinals 10

DeAndre Hopkins catches a 6-yard pass from Murray (Prater kicks PAT) [10 plays, 72 yards, 2:52 time of possession]

Hopkins effect: The Cardinals showed their appreciation for having Hopkins in the lineup for his second game since serving a six-game suspension for a performance enhancing substance. Hopkins caught three of four passes during the drive for 35 yards.

Q3, 9:01 remaining

Cardinals 17, Vikings 14

Zach Ertz catches an 8-yard pass from Murray (Prater kicks PAT) [5 plays, 52 yards, 2:14 time of possession]

Quick strike: The Cardinals gained 41 yards in two plays when Hopkins ran down the Arizona sideline for a gain of 33 one play before Ertz broke a tackle attempt by Cam Dantzler, Sr.

Q3, 5:47 remaining

Vikings 21, Cardinals 17

Alexander Mattison rushes for 7 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [8 plays, 75 yards, 3:14 time of possession]

Getting it going: Justin Jefferson made the key catch, playing through contact by cornerback Antonio Hamilton for a gain of 29 on third-and-6. Adam Thielen added an 18-yard reception two plays later.

Q3, 4:07 remaining

Vikings 28, Cardinals 17

Dalvin Cook rushes for 4 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [4 plays, 31 yards, 1:20 time of possession]

Points off turnover: The Vikings built on momentum from Harrison Smith's 32nd career interception by quickly gaining 6 and 17 on passes to Jefferson.

Q3, 2:27 remaining

Vikings 28, Cardinals 23

Rondale Moore catches a 38-yard pass from Murray (2-point conversion fails) [4 plays, 70 yards, 1:40 time of possession]

Breaking free: Moore nearly sprang one on a gain of 27 two plays before he did shed a tackle by Patrick Peterson.

Q4, 12:32 remaining

Vikings 28, Cardinals 26

Prater kicks a 34-yard field goal [7 plays, 8 yards, 3:27 time of possession]

Slippery snap: Murray bobbled a shotgun snap and was tackled for a loss of 5 by Za'Darius Smith on third-and-8.

Q4, 8:36 remaining

View arrival photos of Vikings players ahead of the Week 8 game vs. the Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30.

Vikings 34, Cardinals 26

K.J. Osborn catches a 5-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph PAT no good) [4 plays, 25 yards, 1:58 time of possession]

Back from behind the chains: The Vikings managed a second-and-13 by completing a pass to Irv Smith, Jr., for a gain of 11 to set up the beautiful placement of the football by Cousins and strong finish by Osborn.

Q3, 4:07 remaining

Vikings 28, Cardinals 17