The Vikings were short on bodies, but not on heart in a loss to the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football in Arizona.
The heartache, however, will last on the return flight after a 23-20 loss.
A sack fumble caused by Dwight Freeney recovered by Calais Campbell gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 36 with five seconds remaining and prevented Blair Walsh from a chance to send the game to overtime.
After Chandler Catanzaro put the Cardinals up with his third field goal of the game, a 47-yarder with 1:23 remaining, and a touchback, Minnesota advanced the ball 49 yards to the Arizona 31.
Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball away on first and second downs, but Freeney came free on the third-down play as Bridgewater was winding his delivery.
It was the third fumble forced and recovered by Arizona, which ranks second in the NFL with 25 takeaways.
The Cardinals (11-2) clinched a playoff berth with their seventh consecutive victory. The Vikings (8-5) dropped their second in a row, but showed resiliency with a team that was short-handed and a heavy underdog with four starters — Linval Joseph, Anthon Barr, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo — out because of injuries.
Bridgewater had a career-high 335 passing yards on 25 of 36 passes and one TD, a 7-yarder to Mike Wallace to tie the game at 20.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was 25-of-35 passing for 310 yards and two TDs (a 65-yarder to John Brown and a 42-yarder to Michael Floyd).
Adrian Peterson rushed 23 times for 69 yards and a 9-yard TD to put the Vikings up 7-3 in the first quarter. Peterson's score was his 100th career touchdown. He plowed through arm tackles and remained upright as others fell. He only went to the turf when it was time to celebrate. Peterson became the 13th running back in NFL history to score 100 touchdowns.
An attempt at trickery led to a turnover on the Vikings opening possession of the third quarter and turned momentum in the Cardinals favor.
The Vikings tried to run a reverse with Peterson set to make a handoff to Wallace, but Peterson was hit before making the pitch, and the ball sprung loose.
Arizona scored 10 straight points to take a 20-10 lead with 14:55 left in the game before Minnesota answered with 10, including a 54-yard field goal by Walsh, and the scoring pass to Wallace.
The Vikings held check with the Cardinals in the first half, gained 210 yards, compared to 212 by Arizona, and did so with four plays of 20 or more yards. Minnesota allowed two such plays, in the first half.
Terence Newman made his 185th career start but his first at safety. He was joined by undrafted rookie Anthony Harris, who was signed off the Vikings practice squad this week and made his first start.
Newman had played safety for one snap in filling in for Robert Blanton at Seattle. Harris played there in college at Virginia.
Trae Waynes made his first career start at corner. An injury that temporarily sidelined Xavier Rhodes prompted the Vikings to bring in Blanton safety and move Newman to corner for Rhodes.
The Vikings opened the second half the way they started with Newman and Harris at the safety spots and Waynes and Rhodes at corner.
The Vikings remain in contention for a Wild Card bid with three games remaining, beginning with hosting Chicago on Dec. 20.