The Vikings crushed a weak Arizona Cardinals team at home, but their ability to sustain their winning ways will be seriously tested by a four-game stretch that begins in Chicago in prime time on Sunday night.
“For us to do what we did, after starting the season 0-4, well, it lets us know that we are as good as we think we can be,” Vikings free safety Husain Abdullah said after Sunday’s 34-10 win over the Cardinals at Mall of America Field. “But we have to prove it game after game. We can’t just do it one time and that’s it.”
The Vikings head to Chicago, where they’re 1-9 in their past 10 games. That includes a 36-30 overtime loss in prime time two years ago.
After that, it’s back home to play the Packers, a trip to Carolina, a bye and then a trip to Green Bay for a Monday night game on Nov. 14.
The Vikings could be looking at 2-7 or 1-8. Then again, it is a team of talented individuals that just received a serious jolt of confidence from the Cardinals (1-4).
When the Vikings went ahead 28-0 in the first quarter, the Cardinals hadn’t even gained a first down. After scoring no points off turnovers the first four weeks, the Vikings got 14 in the first quarter and 17 off four turnovers for the game.
A secondary that was without cornerback Antoine Winfield (strained neck) came up with three interceptions, two key fourth-down stops and an early tone-setting tackle for loss.
The passing game, however, remains very much a work in progress. Despite the rout, quarterback Donovan McNabb was booed throughout the game because of his wildly inaccurate passing and near interceptions. He completed just 10 of 21 passes for 169 yards.
The Vikings also head into their key stretch of games not knowing if receiver Bernard Berrian will be able to give them anything. After catching only two passes in the first four games, he was a surprise game-day inactive because of unspecified disciplinary reasons. Coach Leslie Frazier said it wasn’t because of the controversial Twitter spat that Berrian got into with fans the week before.
For now, however, the Vikings are just glad not to be 0-5, which would have tied the 1962 team as the worst start in franchise history.
“This gives us some momentum,” Frazier said. “We don’t want to go on the road without a win, coming from our home venue, so it’s a big win for us.”
NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – NOTES, QUOTES
TRENDING: Jared Allen is in a pass rushing zone right now. He has 8.5 sacks for the season and at least one sack in seven consecutive games. That’s one off the team record set by two team legends: Jim Marshall in 1969 and Carl Eller from 1975 to 1976.
LINEUP WATCH: Keep an eye on receiver Devin Aromashodu. He made the team as the fifth receiver, but is quickly becoming the deep threat that disgruntled Bernard Berrian was supposed to be. With Berrian a surprise game-day inactive for unspecified disciplinary reasons, Aromashodu saw some more playing time against the Cardinals. A week after catching a 34-yard touchdown against the Chiefs, Aromashodu had a 60-yard catch that set up a third-quarter field goal against Arizona.
NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
–CB Asher Allen took advantage of his first start of the season. He’s been an underachiever in his three seasons, but he had a first-quarter interception and a great stop on fourth-and-1 at the end of the third quarter. The 5-9, 194-pounder undercut 6-2, 229-pound running back Beanie Wells short of the first down.
–CB Antoine Winfield’s strained neck got better throughout the week, but the Vikings didn’t want to take a chance so they made him a game-day inactive. He’ll be re-evaluated this week. Winfield is the leader and best player in the secondary, but the secondary had its best game of the season without him. That could weigh into whether the team gives Winfield another week to rest the neck.
–CB Cedric Griffin was benched for the opening series for unspecified disciplinary reasons. The Vikings still held the Cardinals to a three-and-out on the drive. Griffin and CB Chris Cook did a good job containing WR Larry Fitzgerald (four catches, 66 yards) with physical play at the line of scrimmage.
–K Ryan Longwell hooked a 43-yard field-goal attempt early in the fourth quarter. That kept him from reaching a career-best 17 consecutive field goals. Longwell is 52 of 56 on field-goal attempts (92.9 percent) the past three seasons.
–QB Donovan McNabb continued to look out of sorts despite the rout. He’s completing just 56.8 percent of his passes for the season and was booed several times on Sunday. Chants of “We want Ponder” also were heard as fans grow increasingly impatient in their desire to see the team turn to rookie first-round draft pick Christian Ponder.