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Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - The fact that this Sunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals turned out to be a defensive slug-fest shouldn't be much of a surprise to anybody. Consider the fact that coming into Sunday, the Cardinals were only allowing only 16 points per game. Consider the fact that both teams entered week seven with a 4-2 record. Still, you couldn't help but walk away from Mall of America Field on Sunday thinking that the Vikings escaped with a win in a game that, according to the offense, they had no business winning.
It wasn't until there was about :14 seconds remaining in the first half that things began to unravel for the Purple. Up until that point, Minnesota was on pace to put up 28 points, over 200 yards on the ground and over 300 yards total. All of those numbers would have pinned the Vikes with one of the best games of the year against a good Arizona Cardinal defense. But as I said, with :14 seconds remaining in the first half, the wheels fell off and the Vikings turned to their defense to finish the game for them.
In a weird sequence of events, the Vikings mismanaged the clock to close the first half and on third down with :14 seconds left Christian Ponder had his arm knocked by a defender forcing his pass to sail high, landing in the arms of outside linebacker Sam Acho.
The Vikings dodged a bullet when Jay Feely pushed the ensuing field goal wide right, but the table had been set for a second half that the Minnesota offense would like to forget ever happened.
As I mentioned above, at the half the Vikings had, not great but respectable numbers. Fourteen points, ten first downs, 151 yards, two-for-two in the redzone with two touchdowns; not a bad half for Minnesota. Unfortunately for them, a terrible second half offensive performance came to the forefront.
We'll go backwards here and summarize the half from the get-go. The Vikings second half drive chart read like this; punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.
Minnesota earned one first down on their first drive of the second half with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter. Their next first down didn't come until there were only :14 seconds left in the game. That's right only two first downs for the Vikings in the entire second half on Sunday.
The rest of the stats don't get much better. In the second half, Christian Ponder was 1-for-7 passing for only four yards. Your heard that right, FOUR YARDS! The Vikings went three-and-out four straight drives in the second half. They only gained 58 yards period in the half and still came away with a victory.
You can credit the Cardinals defense all you want, but the Vikings offensive output on Sunday was flat out awful.
But hey, they still won! So how did they do it? The defense came up huge in the second half.
Rolling off of the spark provided by Harrison Smith's interception return for a touchdown on the opening drive of the half, the Vikings defense jumped up and finished the day with seven sacks, many of them coming up at huge moments in the game. With five sacks in the second half, the Vikings defense got to Skelton once on third down and two times on fourth down situations. At the end of the day, Brian Robison walked away with three sacks, Jared Allen chipped in with two, Kevin Williams had one and Antoine Winfield added another.
"There are going to be days like that in our league," Leslie Frazier told KFAN radio following the game. "We think we can win in different ways and we proved that today."
At the end of the day, the Vikings walked away with a 21-14 victory, improving their season record to 5-2.
Overshadowed by the negativity, Adrian Peterson rushed for 153 yards giving him 29 career 100 yard games. That number ties AP with Robert Smith for the most 100-yard games as a Minnesota Viking.
The Vikings have a quick turnaround now as they prepare for Tampa Bay to come to town on Thursday night.