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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: What victory? Zimmer knows attention must quickly turn to Detroit

By Judd Zulgad

MINNEAPOLIS– After winning for the first time in 43 days, one might expect Mike Zimmer took some time on Sunday evening to enjoy the Vikings’ 30-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Vikings coach, however, said his celebration, or sigh of relief, had ended by the time he began his postgame press conference. “I had victory 10 minutes,” Zimmer said. “Now, it’s time to get into Detroit.”

Zimmer wasn’t being overly dramatic.

By ending a four-game losing streak, the Vikings put themselves in position to retake control of the weak NFC North on Thursday in Detroit. The Lions, who beat Jacksonville 26-19 on Sunday, and the Vikings are both 6-4, but Detroit holds the tie-breaker after winning on Nov. 6 at Minnesota.

Zimmer is already a workaholic and last week he talked about putting in more hours to end his team’s skid. One can only imagine how little sleep Zimmer will be operating on come Thanksgiving Day.

The good news for Zimmer is that his players will return to practice on Monday with the knowledge that they had finally been able to follow through on the lip service they had been providing about remaining confident that hard work would pay off.

“It feels great,” quarterback Sam Bradford said after completing 20 of 28 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown. “Obviously to go however many weeks it was to lose four straight, how many days, I think it was weighing on everyone. I think you can feel it just at practice, in the locker room. Just the joy of winning, it’s a great feeling. That feeling we had in the locker room today, I think it solved a lot of problems.”

That sounds good but many of us outsiders are going to take a wait-and-see approach before deciding to again jump on the Vikings’ bandwagon. Sunday should have done nothing to change that opinion.

Fourteen of the Vikings’ points did not come from the offense.

The Cardinals trailed 13-10 in the second quarter, and were on the Vikings’ 9-yard line, when Carson Palmer threw a pass into the end zone that was intended for wide receiver John Brown. Brown, covered by nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn, never turned around, enabling cornerback Xavier Rhodes to get the interception and race 100 yards to give the Vikings a 20-10 lead.

It was the longest interception return in Vikings history, topping Reggie Rutland’s 97-yard score on Dec. 15, 1991 against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Vikings carried only a three-point lead into halftime after Palmer’s 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham with 50 seconds remaining in the second quarter completed a 75-yard, seven-play drive. Given the fact that Arizona had the ball for 20 minutes, 51 seconds of the opening half, the Vikings lead felt anything but secure.

But Cordarrelle Patterson helped to get the crowd of 66,808 back into the game by racing 104 yards with the opening kickoff of the third quarter to restore the double-digit advantage.

“Our message this week was make the sound plays first and let the big plays come to you,” Zimmer said. “They’re not always going to come, but you just got to do your job first and then the rest of it will happen.”

The evidence that this was far from a perfect performance by the Vikings included the fact the defense gave up 263 yards (110 on the ground) in the opening half. Jerick McKinnon was the Vikings’ leading rusher with 44 yards and Minnesota’s anemic running game finished with 72 yards total, or an average of 3.0 yards per carry. Minnesota remained stuck at 2.7 yards per rushing attempt on the season.

The Cardinals, however, were unable to do anything with the ball on two drives late in the fourth quarter when they were within a touchdown of taking the lead. Arizona finished with 27 total yards of offense in the final 30 minutes.

When they were sitting at 5-0, the Vikings might have had the ability to get picky about how they were winning games but that long ago went out the window. Zimmer will take wins however he can get them these days.

“I feel good about winning,” Zimmer said. “It’s been a long month. It’s been a long, long, long month. It’s good to feel this again. It’s good to see the fight that the players had and to see the hard work. I talked to the team a lot the past few days about it’s a long season, there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, there’s going to be a lot of different things that go on.

“You just keep fighting, keep your nose to the grindstone and keep going. Keep working and pay attention to the little details of your work. (Then) we can pull out of this. It’s nice to see them have some reward of being able to get something because there’s a lot of negativity in these four games. It’s actually a credit to our football team that we didn’t let it seep into us because it can go south really fast.”

Zimmer has to know the only way to assure things definitely stop going south is to win on Thursday. Otherwise, Sunday’s victory will be nothing more than a short-term high and doubt will return in quick fashion.

The post Zulgad: What victory? Zimmer knows attention must quickly turn to Detroit appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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