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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Quick hits: Bridgewater has a career night, but Vikings’ comeback falls short in Arizona

By Andrew Krammer

The Vikings weren’t given much of a chance, but they made it a heck of a game on Thursday night in Arizona.

Teddy Bridgewater threw for a career-high 335 yards, and overcame a stymied rushing attack in the second half to bring the Vikings within a play from the upset. Instead, Bridgewater was sacked and stripped with 13 seconds left, in position for a 48-yard field goal. Dwight Freeney beat Matt Kalil around the edge and knocked the ball loose.

The Vikings (8-5) lost consecutive games for the first time this season, losing 23-20 to the Cardinals (11-2).

Here are a few quick hits from Sunday. Be sure to tune in to 1500AM, or stream on, to listen to Vikings VentLine with the Superstar Mike Morris and Phil Mackey. Call 651-646-8255 or 877-615-1500 immediately after every game. Check back to for more updates.

Hanging tough — The opening two drives came as expected for a Vikings’ depleted defense playing without three stars in Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith. The Cardinals racked up 151 yards and 10 points to jump out to an early lead, before coach Mike Zimmer found ways to rattle Carson Palmer, who was sacked once, forced to scramble twice and threw some off-target passes in the first half. He was still 12 of 16 for 161 yards against a secondary featuring a few reserves. On offense, Adrian Peterson got off to a hot start, juking his way through four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown in the opening drive alone. Teddy Bridgewater looked much more comfortable than Sunday, surpassing his 118 yards against the Seahawks by intermission in Arizona. The score was tied 10-10 at halftime.

Fluky play — Following Mike Wallace’s seven-yard touchdown grab to knot the score at 20-20, Palmer and the Cardinals took possession with under five minutes left and a chance for the game-winning drive. Approaching midfield, Palmer fired a slant pass that ricocheted off Brian Robison’s helmet and into the air. Instead of an interception, or incompletion, Cardinals guard Mike Iupati came down with the pass and moved the chains into Vikings’ territory for Arizona. Chandler Catanzaro kicked the go-ahead field goal with 1:23 left in the game.

Tale of two fumbles, and non-fumble — Zimmer tossed the red flag when Captain Munnerlyn appeared to force a fumble on Jaron Brown at the Vikings’ 9, which would’ve stalled the Cardinals’ 71-yard opening drive, but Brown was ruled down by contact. Upon further review, the call was upheld and Arizona kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead just three plays later. The Vikings were on the wrong end of two fumbles in Cardinals’ territory, the first when Jarius Wright had the ball poked out on an eight-yard catch at the Cardinals’ 15. Then, with the score tied 10-10, a reverse from Peterson to Mike Wallace was blown up, the ball knocked out of Peterson’s hand and Arizona took possession at their own 43 in the third quarter.

Held down in second half — Peterson was a big part of the game plan throughout, finding room on the first drive to the tune of four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, including a 21-yard scamper, his longest of the game. By halftime, Peterson 12 carries for 56 yards in the first half, but wasn’t able to wear down this No. 4-ranked Cardinals defense. Arizona held him to 13 yards on 10 carries in the second half. Peterson finished with 23 carries for 69 rushing yards.

Secondary carousel kept turning — The Vikings initially started rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, with veteran Terence Newman moving to safety as injuries held Smith and Andrew Sendejo out. Their plan in the secondary was shaken up again when Xavier Rhodes’ right wrist was pinned between undrafted rookie Anthony Harris’ helmet and a Cardinals’ receiver. Rhodes briefly left the game, Newman went back to cornerback and Robert Blanton entered at safety. When Rhodes returned just a few plays later, Zimmer kept Waynes on the sideline, Newman at corner and Blanton in the game. Out of halftime, Waynes was back in the game before he was pulled late in the third quarter. Zimmer then put Shaun Prater in the game with Newman back at corner. The secondary’s biggest blunder in a patchwork night came when Captain Munnerlyn and Harris took poor angles on John Brown’s 65-yard touchdown catch in the first half.

A different QB — Just four days after Bridgewater was rattled and threw for a career-low 118 passing yards, he surpassed that mark by halftime in Arizona. He found the open receivers out of many different looks, and appeared much more comfortable operating under center as he hit 11 different receivers and compiled 335 passing yards, a career-high and the third-most allowed by the Cardinals all season.

Welcome to the NFL — An apparent miscommunication in coverage allowed Michael Floyd to get wide open down the sideline, catching a shallow pass and taking off for a 42-yard touchdown. With the Cardinals lined up in a trips left formation, Waynes, making his first career start, jumped the same route as Munnerlyn and seemed to leave Floyd open. Harris, also making his first career start at safety, was trucked by Larry Fitzgerald in a failed attempt to tackle Floyd. The Cardinals took a 17-10 lead on the possession following Peterson’s fumble.

Big guys involved — With Patrick Peterson shadowing Stefon Diggs for most of the game, Bridgewater’s longest completions went to tight ends. He looked much more comfortable in a game plan that had him dumping the ball off to big targets. Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt and Rhett Ellison combined for seven catches and 125 yards, including a 41-yard screen to Ellison, the longest catch of his career.

The post Quick hits: Bridgewater has a career night, but Vikings’ comeback falls short in Arizona appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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