Vikings aftermath, with a playoff berth

Posted by Darren Urban on December 11, 2015 – 12:33 am

Sure, Michael Floyd had his fourth 100-yard outing in his last five games and Smokey Brown broke off a 65-yard touchdown catch and Larry Fitzgerald is (probably) headed to the Hall of Fame. But look out for Mike Iupati as a receiving option.

The mammoth guard caught a batted Carson Palmer pass on what turned out to be the Cardinals’ game-winning field-goal drive and plowed forward 10 yards for a first down.

“He got some yards,” Palmer said. “We might have to put a screen in for him or maybe a quick flat route down on the goal line. We have one in for (backup center/jumbo tight end) A.Q. (Shipley). But I think Mike is proven now. We have it on film. He can go in and I’ll fight for him. I’ll lobby for him to get a pass.”

Palmer called it a weird night, and it doesn’t get much weirder than Iupati not only making a catch, but averaging 10 yards per reception. It might’ve been weird because of the short week, although the players said no. What it was was a team in the Vikings who were embarrassed at home by Seattle and desperately needed to rebound.

It’s not like the Cardinals were bad. They looked like a team dead set on stopping Adrian Peterson which, except for the first drive, they pretty much did. Teddy Bridgewater completed passes, but the defense forced fumbles, and whether you say it was lucky they did – the Vikings were in at least field-goal range on all three of the fumbles – or you say they made the plays they needed to make for a stop, it still equates to a good enough defensive effort.

“We’d like to keep them out of the red zone if we can,” defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “But they played great.”

Hey, a win is a win. The Vikings are going to be in the playoffs, in all likelihood.

— The Cardinals clinched a playoff spot. Their magic number to clinch the NFC West is one. Interestingly, the Seahawks play twice before the Cardinals play another game – this Sunday against the Ravens, and then the Seahawks will play their game Dec. 20 against the Browns before the Cardinals kick off their game in Philadelphia on “Sunday Night Football” – so the Cards have two opportunities they could win the west before playing again.

— No, I don’t think the Seahawks are going to lose to the Ravens or the Browns.

— Adrian Peterson had just 13 yards on 11 carries in the second half.

— Palmer’s footwork within the pocket on the touchdown pass to Brown needs to be on an instructional video for young quarterbacks.

— Here’s why it was good that Dwight Freeney made that great strip-sack at the end of the game: It was inevitable that Blair Walsh would boot the game-tying field goal. It’s statistically odd, but Cardinals’ opponents have yet to miss a field goal this season – now 22-for-22.

— Wide receiver blocks were big. Fitzgerald led the way for Floyd’s long TD, and J.J. Nelson had a Brittan-Golden-in-Seattle-on-the-sideline block to free Brown streaking to the end zone.

Fitz pancaked Vikings safety Anthony Harris, but as usual, he didn’t want to dwell on his blocking. He’s a receiver.

“It’s part of the job, but catching touchdowns is much more glorious,” Fitzgerald said. “You’re not as sore, you don’t have to get in the cold tub as much, but it’s a role I’m privileged to have because I know it’s a dirty job but I’m capable of doing it.”

— There is nothing better than a mini-bye if you can get the win in a Thursday game. The Cardinals should be getting a good chunk of their banged-up guys back for Philly. Even running back David Johnson could use a couple of days. He said he was fine, but admitted he took a shot to his right thigh early in the game, which is why he limped off after his final catch. He came back in, but rest will do everyone some good.

— Rest sounds good about now anyway. I’m going home.


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28 Responses to “Vikings aftermath, with a playoff berth”

  1. By Steve on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Great job Cards! This is turning into the best regular season the Cardinals have had in quite a number of years, it’s been amazing. I still hold my breath every time Carson gets hit in the pocket/sacked but thank goodness he has been durable. Game balls to Freeney and DJ whose been a very good 3rd round pick, but especially Freeney for providing that huge game saving strip/ sack!

  2. By Wayne on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Darren, Vikings are better than I thought and scared me last night, hard fought win. David Johnson is by far the Cards strongest and toughest RB to bring down and has a nose for the goal line, why oh why did Arians sit him after his big run to the 2, I know a lot of us fans are wondering, we’re you thinking the same thing? And is there ever a time you stop sending the house at the QB when they are eating them up with quick short passes across the middle, is someone missing an assignment because on some of those no defender was anywhere near and they were gaining big yards.
    Thanks for your insight, 11-2, lets get to 14 wins

  3. By dan on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    our lack of a running game in short yardage is gonna kill us

  4. By Dan on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Freeney sack was a work of art……amazing play on so many levels…..set up the offensive tackle, faked the tackle into thinking he was going to speed rush around the end and then comes the dance move (spin), then the Freeney knew the QB would step up in the pocket and not wasting a split second by positioning his body for the ball swat………incredible play………..all balance and art combined with vision.

  5. By Cardinal's Chick on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Oh my…yet another nail biter. As much as I love the offense, I am getting to the point where I look forward to seeing the defense come on the field because they are so darn exciting to watch….especially Tyrann…talk about tenacity!

    The biggest issues that I saw were the offense didn’t convert on 3rd and short, and score when they were on the 1 and goal on the 2nd yard line. And, it seemed like defense blitzed most of the game (play calling)…by the 4th quarter the secondary was visibly tired. But, other than that it looked to me like they played good football. Great when you consider this was a short week. Thursday games are always ugly and this one was no exception.

    Glad the playoff spot was clinched, but it is likely the division game will be decided when we play Seattle…I’m thinking that every game from here on out is going to be played like it is a playoff game.

  6. By Cardinal's Chick on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    BTW…I’m in the Atlanta area so I am not able to go to the UoP to see the games personally. It looked to me like there was WAY too much purple in the stands. Why? Come on Az fans….don’t let that happen! You go to Heinz field all you see is yellow and black. We need to be like that!

  7. By Scott H on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    I’m going to take my cue from Fitz. The game was NOT pretty but it ended up in the win column and he was ecstatic after the big play, jumping on Freeney and taking him to the ground. So….I’ll do the same!

    First, does anyone understand why the Vikings are going with a pass play at that point???? Already in FG range for the tie??? With 13 seconds left???? That was VERY curious play-calling…..and give the Cards defense and Freeney credit for making the big play there, but if NOT for that play call? We don’t get that chance and….well, maybe that game has a different ending.

    My lord, it is hardly ever easy, is it??

    There was good, there was bad, and there was ugly.

    The good? Calais Campbell, who was an un-stoppable force last night. Those were some BIG plays by a BIG man! He was a beast! Freeney, who got there when we absolutely needed somebody to get there. Maybe they are keeping him in a glass case with a sign saying “Break glass only in the case of an emergency” but….that’s OK! Floyd….another beast. Man, he can be AWESOME at times. LOVED seeing him point at Fitz after his TD for the block Fitz gave him to get him there. Honey Badger….all over the damn place. DJ….looked great. He looks smooth and patient when he runs the ball. GREAT as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Fitz….as always, just for doing all that he does. Best damn blocking WR in the game! And looking like he suddenly loves doing it! At age 32.

    The bad? Our defense, much of the time. They made big plays, and we needed them, but in-between? Bridgewater hasn’t sniffed near 350 yards all year, folks. But he was having no trouble last night. I felt like our DB’s were kinda exposed because the Vikings O-line was doing such a good job picking up our blitzes. When they did that effectively, Bridgewater was finding guys that were way too open for those chunk plays that we love so much. Our run game without DJ. The INT’s the Vikings should have come up with a few times, but didn’t. And maybe most of all, how our offense was not much more effective as a whole against a defense that was missing so many key players.

    The ugly? That sack that Palmer took in the first half that took us out of FG range. HOW does he NOT know that that is the one thing you CANNOT do on that play? Kerwyn Williams 8-yard loss on that GOD-AWFUL-UGLY play right after we had gotten into FG range. What the hell was THAT??? THAT play got me up out of my seat, ready to throw something. Thank God we we were INTO FG range at that point and not right on the edge of it. That’s all I can say. Because if not, that might be the play we are circling this morning as the one that lost the game for us. AND having a first and goal from the 2 after DJ’s TD was called back and having to settle for a FG. Palmer took another bad sack on that drive as well.

    Oh, and maybe the ugliest of all – Palmer’s slide. Please….no more of that. Was I the only one who gasped in horror, thinking he might have torn up another knee on that one???? The way he went down and seemed to PLANT more than SLIDE…it was scary. You have to get on your butt to slide, Carson. Geez….

    But….the sun is coming up out here in the east….I’m off from work…..we’re 11-2…..and we’ve got our ticket to the dance. Gonna be a good day!

  8. By georgiebird on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Congrats to the Cards on making the Playoffs. Cards were fortunate and BA’s short post game talk was on point.
    My biggest concern is what I have said before- Guys can’t be asked to blitz who don’t know how to blitz. If you look at the Viking’s passing TD, it’s amazing how many of our blitzers ran up the backs of our DLs. No one was near Teddy.
    Thank heaven for Freeny- he KNOWS how to bring the heat and HB was a force.
    The blitz leaves us too vulnerable when our guys fall over each other.

  9. By joe holst on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    How have they not clinched the division? If they lose last 3 and Seattle wins last 4 they are both 11-5 and Arizona has better division record and the head to head would be 1-1.

  10. By Darren Urban on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Joe —

    RE: Division

    Actually, if that played out they’d both be 4-2 in the division.

  11. By DTL on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Lol to Scott H.

    My take simpler, the short week made everyone a bit off. Vikes played like more was on line, we survied. We haver more playmakers.

    Congrats Cards. Have no doubt BA will chew some as_ and well be ready for last 3. Playoffs are here. Man, is this fun.

  12. By joe holst on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Whats the next tie breaker after division record? Please and thank you

  13. By Darren Urban on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Joe Holst —

    RE: Tiebreakers

  14. By krehbieo14 on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    The Cards had two critical possessions on offense where DJ was off the field. One, on the two yard line and the other in the last drive. I thought we needed him. Was he gassed or dinged? Thanks.

  15. By Darren Urban on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Krehbieo —

    RE: David Johnson

    He said he was fine. They wanted fresh legs.

  16. By Dynosoar on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    I have a thought on turnovers. Every comment board I read (here, NFL, ESPN, a few other from time to time) I see the same thing regarding turnovers.

    “If not for the turnovers we/they would have lost/won.”

    It seems like a lot of people feel turnovers are a lucky break (good or bad). No, most of the time they are created either by sloppy play (which means a team should be losing) or players making plays on the ball (Freeney anyone).

    I have to say, turnovers are created many more times than someone being sloppy and much more than just luck. Which is why winning several games when the other defense is playing good enough to win the turnover battle is HUGE and almost unheard of.

    Our team is playing lights out. Undefeated, no, but do any of us care? No, we’re in it for the Super Bowl, just like anyone else.

    I can’t believe how many games we’ve won and the fans of the other teams comment well if it wasn’t for the turnovers we’d have won. But turnovers are as much a part of this game as touchdowns and first downs. That’s art of winning and losing, not an excuse to satisfy the loss.

    Thanks for riding the tide and cheer of this soapbox. (Haha!)

    As Palmer said, our goals are much higher.
    The Lombardi Trophy or Nothing at All!
    (And as I’ve said, I’m tired of nothing)

  17. By Dynosoar on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply


    Lupati and Fells just don’t go down easily!

    I enjoyed this game. And just feel relieved it’s over. 13 down, six to go.

  18. By DTL on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    If Cards can somehow tie Carolina (at 14-2), looks like this may be decider on home field advantage: (?)

    “Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.”
    (per link durb provided)

    Based on remaining sched, Cards would win the tie breaker for home field as both Panther losses would be within the conference and one of ours (Steelers) was outside. Yep, destiny mapped out!

    Cards must win 3, Panths lose 2 of 4…go Falcons, Giants, Bucs

  19. By Darren Urban on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    DTL —

    RE: Panthers

    If the Cards and Panthers tie, the Cards will definitely win the tiebreaker.

  20. By Pete Kinyon on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    About the punt just before the Vikes last touchdown drive. There was a time when that would have been considered running into the kicker (although not roughing the kicker). Has the rule changed from what I remember or was a just a call that I don’t like?

  21. By Darren Urban on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    Pete —

    RE: Running into the kicker

    No, that’s still a rule. The official decided it wasn’t a foul.

  22. By Richard S on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    The Cardinals need their A-team players to get healthy. The next man up variety eked out a win over the Vikings mainly because of 3 turnovers. The Vikings have scored 258 points this year while allowing 255. That pretty much makes them an average team. Either they have improved one heck of a lot as the season progressed or they are an average team. Two of the experts on the NFL network expected a 14 point win, one a 17 point win and one a 10 point win. Thank the good Lord for Freeney. Three tough games ahead. Get healthy Big Red.

  23. By robert on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    So proud of the Cards…how many times over these how many years [excluding the Warner and Palmer years] do we lose that game? That being said, i still am concerned about the RT play, and out kicker NOt kicking off deep enough. Our coverage team is not good i thought the game would be lost if he did not kick the last one for a TB.

    But wow, since 1988 and all those terrible years, we really have a very good team and Palmer is a GREAT leader. We do have some real quality players and they seem to be great guys. The honey badger, i mean what a play for the loss on AP. He is really the hears of this Defense.

    Anyway, hope they get a good rest and they got a break with athe Philly game flexed to sunday PM. Hope the weather holds up!

  24. By Richard S on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    My dad was a Cardinal fan until they left St. Louis. He then became a Ram fan, but unfortunately died the year before Warner won the Superbowl. I’ve stayed a Cardinal fan, I guess because when you are familiar with the players it’s hard to switch, plus the Cardinals moved towards the West Coast where I live. In my whole life time of 66 years, the Cardinals have not won an NFL Championship. This is the best team I’ve seen on the field in all those years since I started rooting for them in their last year in Chicago. My wife told me my son would have 2 separate wedding receptions, one for old people and one for young ones. I told her I’d go to the one that didn’t interfere with the Cardinal game. That is logical, not?

  25. By sbrown on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    A win is a win, great ending for the Cards last night. Now get the mini bye week to get healthy and be ready for a final three game part of the regular season.

    A couple of items,
    yes Teddy B. had 350 yards passing, but I would guess that 250 was yards after the catch. That swing pass just killed the defense last night.
    A lot of purple in the stadium, I saw several “cardinal fans” wearing their purple last night, one guy had a Minn jersey with a Cardinal hat on ?1?
    IMO, we also had the “snowbird effect” in play, if this game would have been in week 2, no way all these snowbirds are in the Valley to but tickets.

    Red Sea, just be ready because the next two home games, the Valley fans who follow Green Bay / Seattle will also be many in UoP, we just need to do our part to shout them out !

  26. By Scott H on Dec 11, 2015 | Reply

    More of the good….first time in franchise history we have consecutive 11-win seasons.

    We are on our way to the best season ever in franchise history ( win-loss wise ).

    Palmer breaking Warner’s record for TD passes in a season – with 3 games to go!!!

    If I heard right, never had 7 straight wins before.

    It all sounds pretty “Super” to me! 🙂

  27. By joe 67 on Dec 12, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H. 1974 Cards started out 7-0.
    Dyno, about fans saying if it weren’t for turnovers their team would have won. Yeh, I have heard it to, but as long standing Cardinal fans, how many times in the past have we have we said the same thing. We are just getting some breaks and some forced turnovers go our way for a change. And the good lord knows we deserve them and have them coming. About 50-60 years worth!!!!

  28. By Kevin S Mesa on Dec 12, 2015 | Reply

    Dynosoar —

    Re: turnovers:

    Yeah, if you have a poor QB who throws a lot of INT’s, or a running back known to have fumbling issues, or a defense known to have a ball-hawking secondary, you can say that offenses allow turnovers through sloppy play, or defenses create them.

    But there most definitely is a luck factor. On probably more than half of the fumbles I see, either team had a chance to make a play, and often the ball gets knocked around 2-3 times before someone secures it. Some fumbles by a receiver or RB, the defender is clearly trying to strip or punch the ball out. Other times, they’re just trying to make a tackle, but their hand just happens to hit the ball.

    Remember the Rams fumble deep in their own territory where it looked like there were 5 Cardinals falling on the ball, but somehow a Ram who jumped on the pile from 6 yards away came out with it? The fumble that wasn’t recovered by the opposition because a guy’s foot was barely out of bounds?

    And it’s absolutely true that we lost our two games because we lost the turnover margin 3-0. We dominated both games statistically.

    There isn’t much consistency year to year in TO margin. The top 4 teams in TO margin this year are Carolina, KC, NYG and Cincinnati. Their ranks last year were tied for 15th, 16th, 18th and 21st. The worst team in the league this year is Dallas; last year they were 6th (probably something to do with losing their QB). But just ahead of Dallas are Detroit and Baltimore in 30th and 31st place this year; they were 12th and 13th last year.

    That suggests a lot of luck is involved to me.

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