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Patrick Peterson & Jordan Hicks Ride Emotions & Make Plays Against Former Team

MINNEAPOLIS – There was an unspoken energy throughout the Vikings locker room all week long.

Entering every game, of course, players have their eyes on a win. This time, though, it was personal. They wanted a Week 8 victory for Patrick Peterson and Jordan Hicks.

The Vikings did just that Sunday, defeating the Cardinals – Peterson and Hicks' former team – 34-26 to improve to 6-1 on the season.

"I just felt like I had to arrive for those boys. I felt like that all week," linebacker Eric Kendricks said postgame. "I didn't want to make a big deal about it, but I know what it is. I know how football goes, and it's an emotional one for them. Gotta be there for them."

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings 34-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30.

Sunday marked Hicks first time facing the Cardinals after spending the past three seasons in Arizona and then signing with Minnesota in free agency.

Peterson reunited with his former team in Week 2 last season, but the Vikings fell in a last-second heartbreaker. That simply couldn't be an option this time around.

He and Hicks spoke to the team Saturday night and delivered a message of confidence and unity.

"They said that we're a team, we have a solid foundation, and we've gotta rely on that," Kendricks recounted. "When the going gets tough, you know what I mean, that foundation is what's gonna set us apart, and I think we all bought into that."

Peterson had another pep talk just before kickoff.

"I told the guys before we went out there, 'If you don't know what it looks like, follow me. Because I'm gonna show you energy, passion and a desire to go out here and want to win the football game,' " he said.

Minnesota's entire defense did just that, consistently disrupted Kyler Murry and the rest of the Cardinals offense.

Peterson broke up three passes, including a would-be third-down touchdown to A.J. Green in the first quarter. Normally a fan of "cruising altitude" as one of his tricks of the trade, Peterson didn't hide his emotions Sunday.

Late in the third quarter, Murray passed over the middle to Robbie Anderson, but Harrison Smith intervened and intercepted the underthrown ball.

"The Hitman" returned the pick 15 yards to set up Minnesota at the Cardinals 31-yard line for an eventual Dalvin Cook touchdown.

Peterson helped lead the defense in a sprint to the end zone, where he "played" an imaginary video game controller front and center of the cameras.

"I think it was Call of Duty? That's what they call it. Modern Warfare. I'm not a gamer, so I don't know anything about it," Peterson smiled. "I heard that game just came out."

The veteran cornerback said the celebration and glances to the Cardinals sideline were "purposeful" during a passionate game that also included an interception by Camryn Bynum.

"I have received fan mail [in Arizona] saying that I cannot tackle or saying I'm old and I've lost it," Peterson said. "I wanted to go out and show them. … Now they see me."

Peterson's three pass breakups tied his career high in a single game. Za'Darius Smith, Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Chandon Sullivan and Cam Bynum also all recorded PBUs.

Cameron Dantzler, Sr., led the team with nine tackles, and Za'Darius Smith added seven tackles and an impressive 3.0 sacks.

Hicks said it's "special" to play with Smith.

"You know, I've been on teams that have guys who are energetic, but then when your most energetic guy is also the guy out there making a ton of plays, it fires everybody up," he said. "His leadership and his ability to make a play when the time is needed – it seems like week after week he's making a big play when it's needed. It's huge."

View Week 8 game action photos from the Vikings-Cardinals game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30.

Hicks made some big plays of his own, though, including a critical fourth-down stop shortly before the 2-minute warning.

With just 2:45 to go and trailing by 8, Arizona was forced to go on fourth-and-4. Murray connected on a short pass to Eno Benjamin, but Hicks abruptly stopped him short of the sticks to give the ball back to Minnesota's offense.

"I felt like I knew what was coming and just jumped it, played it. Read my keys and just stayed square," Hicks said. "It's fun to have that time of moment in this type of game, and I'm glad we were able to get that.

"I've been against this offense over and over again. And there's certain feels – there was a feel that I had just based on how the running back was standing. His stance, his split," Hicks added.

Sullivan, who in Week 1 faced his former team in the Packers, said he felt Peterson's and Hicks' emotions entering the contest.

"That's what you say, 'It's just another game,' but I know exactly how they feel. When you're coming on a new team, you're playing against your old team, you've got something to prove," Sullivan said. "Pat Pete went out there, I think he had, like, three pass breakups, and Jordan had a big fourth-down stop, so the energy started with them and just trickled down to the defense.

"We wanted to win for them and keep it rolling," he added.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell acknowledged the extra layer of meaning Sunday's game held for Hicks and Peterson.

"I could feel it from both those guys," O'Connell said. "Those are two of our leaders. Patrick Peterson is one of our captains. Jordan Hicks is a former captain of that football team over there.

"When you wear a 'C' for any team in this league, that carries a lot of weight both with your teammates and maybe with your former teammates," he continued. "I think it meant a lot for [Hicks] to play well. He did. Made that great tackle on fourth down. Patrick P. continues to show up. Proud of those guys. They both got game balls."

The Vikings knew Murray would present a challenge both inside the pocket and out, but they kept his scrambling to a minimum, allowing just 36 rushing yards.

Minnesota largely contained Murray with a defensive line that was without Jonathan Bullard (illness) and which lost Dalvin Tomlinson to a calf injury partway through the game.

"For the most part, they had him stuck in there. They got to him at times, and they flustered him, and it was apparent," Kendrick said.

"Kyler's a guy who can make it pretty stressful on guys on the backend, and I've experienced that before. He's hard to tackle," Harrison Smith added. "He's hard to contain, no matter if you're a d-lineman or a corner. So they had a great plan. Coaches had a great plan, and the guys up front really executed."

Murray finished the outing 31-of-44 passing for 326 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 95.5.

DeAndre Hopkins led Arizona in receiving with 12 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown, while Rondale Moore added seven catches for 92 yards and a score.

Once again, the game was a close one. But once again, the Vikings came out on top.

"You know, it'd be nice to not always bring it down to the wire," Harrison Smith quipped. "But when your number's called, you have to make [the play]."

The Vikings now will look ahead to back-to-back road games at Washington and Buffalo before returning home to U.S. Bank Stadium.

It's certainly not time to rest on one's laurels, but Peterson feels good about where things are headed.

"I know we still have a second half of the season, but I'm just getting started. I'm in the zone right now. I'm in the groove," Peterson said. "I've been here before, I know how to keep it, and I just want to keep being challenged and keep helping this team win ballgames. Because I promise you this – if I get challenged, I will show up on the stat sheet."

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