Kurt Warner (Christian Petersen/Getty)
The Arizona Cardinals controlled their destiny with a 30-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night at home. The Vikings scored first and last, but in between it was all Cardinals. The victory gave Arizona a comfy lead in the NFC West heading into next Monday’s matchup with the 49ers. The win was also a moral one as Kurt Warner made a valiant return, and Arizona's defense went to work.
The Cardinals‘ 30-17 win over the Vikings put Arizona in the driver seat heading into its final four-game stretch. The Cardinals performance on Sunday makes the rest of the season look like a walk in the park. And a win over San Francisco next week will hand Arizona its second-straight division title.
The Cardinals put an emphasis on blocking and it showed on Sunday.
Jeremy Bridges started in the place of injured left tackle Mike Gandy, and he showed up to work. He helped hamper efforts from the punishing Vikings’ defensive line. Bridges also received a little help from his friends. The Cardinals utilized a tight end set and put Tim Hightower to work as a blocker as well. The combined efforts softened the “Williams Wall” and kept the highest producing sack team, sack-less.
The Vikings defense lacked its typical energy. Minnesota returned to the visiting locker room with neither a sack nor a pick on Kurt Warner. The solid protection that Arizona provided its quarterback was pivotal. Warner has dealt with lingering symptoms of the concussion he suffered in Week 11 against the St. Louis Rams.
Warner threw himself a welcome back party with three touchdown passes (two for Anquan Boldin and one for Larry Fitzgerald) and 285 yards.
Boldin welcomed Warner back with open arms, as he played one of his best games of the season. Boldin nabbed 98 yards with a pair of end zone celebrations. His two touchdown passes doubled his season count.
Fitzgerald also joined the party. He contributed 143 yards, a season high. Warner appeared to be making a statement by throwing to Fitzgerald deep.
Arizona’s running game’s invitation must be in the mail. Tim Hightower fumbled out of the gates, which led to a turnover and a Vikings touchdown. Brett Favre crashed the party and took the Vikings for a 47-yard drive for the game’s opening touchdown.
Steve Breaston put the Cardinals back on track. His 64-yard return put the Cardinals on the very manageable 2-yard line. Warner and Boldin took care of the rest for the equalizing touchdown.
Arizona never looked back. The Cardinals defense reaped havoc on the Vikings. Adrian Wilson broke up a couple passes that should have been picks. Arizona finally earned its interception. Darnell Dockett proved that slow and steady wins the race. He applied plenty of pressure on Favre to make him throw a pass into the awaiting arms of Karlos Dansby. Also earning gold stars were Calias Campbell (sack) and Bertrand Berry (two sacks).
On second thought, let's hand those gold stars out to the entire Cardinals defense for keeping Adrian Peterson to an unprecedented 19 yards. The second lowest game production of his entire career (second to a game in his rookie season against the 49ers when he rushed for 3 yards).
Welcome back Warner and way to go Bill Davis. Your commitment to making this defense one of the best in the league is starting to show.
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