Matt Cassel set the tone and Teddy Bridgewater finished them off, as the Vikings quarterbacks combined to author a prolific performance on Saturday night that led to a last-second 30-28 victory at TCF Bank Stadium.
A Bridgewater touchdown pass with just 18 seconds remaining in the game gave the Vikings their winning margin and gave Mike Zimmer his second win in as many tries as Vikings Head Coach.
Cassel and Bridgewater combined to go 28 of 36 (77.8%) for 330 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a passer rating of 132.6. Cassel was 12 of 16 while leading the first team offense for the entire first half, with his touchdown pass going 51 yards to tight end Kyle Rudolph to give the Vikings a 10-7 lead early in the 2nd quarter. Bridgewater came on to begin the second half and was sharp every step of the way, completing 16 of 20 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Arizona appeared poised to escape with an unusual win after a fumbled snap on 4th down was recovered by Zach Bauman and advanced into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 28-24 lead. The play was reviewed and the score was upheld, despite protest from Zimmer and the home crowd.
But 1:11 was too much time to give Teddy.
As sharp as Cassel was early, Bridgewater was just as lethal late. Bridgewater and Co. took possession on their own 17 trailing by four with just 1:11 to play, and promptly drove 83 yards in seven plays to steal the late lead and, ultimately, the victory. On the drive, Bridgewater was six of seven for 77 yards and finished it off with a perfectly-placed two-yard fade to receiver Rodney Smith for the score. Smith had four receptions for 55 yards on the drive, including a 37-yard catch on the fourth play of the series to move the Vikings to the Arizona 18.
The Vikings are a perfect 2-0 this preseason, but Zimmer acknowledged in his post-game press conference that his team has plenty upon which they can improve. Defensively, the Vikings exceled on Saturday night in a number of categories, including the pass rush by the first team defensive line and run defense as a whole (Arizona gained just 96 yards on 34 carries). Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr had another sack, giving him 1.5 for the preseason, Marcus Sherels led the team in tackles with nine (unofficially), and the Vikings defense as a group held Arizona to just 4.8 yards per offensive play.
For Saturday night, at least, the Vikings will enjoy the feeling of victory for a second consecutive week and on Sunday they will begin to look forward to the next exhibition contest, which will take place in Kansas City on Saturday, August 23.