US BANK STADIUM, MN – Kirk Cousins recovered from two first half turnovers to lead two touchdown drives to open the second half as the Minnesota Vikings pulled away from the Arizona Cardinals, 27-17.

Though it wasn’t one of his better games, Cousins went 24-34 for 233 yards and a touchdown. He also added his first rushing touchdown of the season. On the down side, Cousins turned the ball over twice, one an interception and one a fumble, and again faced pressure throughout.

Cousins finally got help from a rushing offense that had struggle through the first five weeks. The team ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Latavius Murray led the way with 155 yards on 24 carries, including a 21-yard touchdown run.

Adam Thielen went for 11 catches, 123 yards (his sixth straight game over 100 yards) and a touchdown. The 100-yard game set a new modern-era NFL record. Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Laquon Treadwell, Murray and Cousins all combined for the remaining 13 catches and 110 yards.

Minnesota’s defense suffocated the Cardinals offense for most of the game before Arizona tried to make a run in the fourth quarter. The Vikings had their strongest defensive performance this season, giving up just 10 points (the other seven came on Cousins’ fumble, which Budda Baker recovered and scored). Danielle Hunter led the Vikings with two sacks, his sixth straight game with a sack and first multi-sack game of the year. Anthony Barr forced a fumble on Cardinals running back David Johnson, which Vikings tackle Tom Johnson recovered. The Vikings also made life tough for Arizona’s rookie quarterback, Josh Rosen, as he went 21-31 for 240 but was intercepted by Vikings safety, Anthony Harris, and was sacked four times.

The Minnesota Vikings move to 3-2-1. And thanks to the Dolphins’ overtime win over the Bears, are now just a half-game out of first place in the NFC North.

The Good

  • If last week wasn’t an indication, today’s performance may be: the Vikings defense has regained their mojo. Yes, they played against a Cardinals offense that’s among the worst in the league. But they were dominant throughout much of the game. They finally put together a full four quarters for the first time all season. Had the offense not given the Cardinals a short field and a touchdown off of a giveaway, the scoreboard would have reflected the defense’s performance.
  • Thielen has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a practice squad player. It may finally be time to start asking the question: is he among the league elite at the receiver position?
  • Hunter has quietly been putting together a huge year. Like Thielen’s 100-yard games streak, Hunter has now recorded a sack in six straight games as well. He’s now chasing his line mate, Everson Griffen’s record that was set just last season. Griffen had nine straight games with a sack.
  • The running game finally came to life and did so in a huge way. After not breaking 100 yards since Week One, the Vikings nearly had 100 times two as they ran for 195 yards. Murray became the first Vikings to rush for 100 this season. At least now we know they can run against teams that have trouble stopping the run.

The Bad

  • The offensive line continues to be a problem, most notably in pass protection. They’ve now surrendered 18 sacks on the season, which puts them among the worst in the league. Whether it’s Riley Reiff, who was out this week, or Rashod Hill, the left tackle position has struggled to protect Cousin’s blind side all year. The other line positions haven’t played much better either.
  • According to an early report from NFL Network’s, Tom Pelissero, the Vikings fear that rookie cornerback Mike Hughes may have torn his ACL. If this is confirmed, he will likely be done for the season. MRI is scheduled for Monday.
  • Cousins’ fumble history was well documented prior to his signing with the Vikings this offseason. That being said, he now has a lost fumble in four straight games. Though there have been extenuating circumstances, this is an issue that he and the team needs to get under control. The best way to help with this? Better play from, you guessed it, the offensive line.

 

– Clayton R. Brooks II writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow @ClaytonRBrooks2. Like and follow @fpc_vikings on Twitter and Full Press Vikings on Facebook.

 

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