We’ve been waiting all year for the Vikings to put together four good quarters and get a win and today…they didn’t exactly put together four good quarters, but they still managed to pull out the win. In truth they put together one incredible quarter and three good enough ones. The big difference between this week’s game and the other three where they built good halftime leads (only to see them evaporate) was that this time they made enough plays in the second half to keep the opponent from rallying. Arizona never really put anything together for an extended period, and the credit for that goes to the defense which played totally against type today, transforming itself from a vanilla bend-but-don’t-break unit into one capable of forcing turnovers and killing momentum.
Turnovers were really the story. In the first quarter the Vikings both picked off Kevin Kolb and forced him to fumble, and on each occasion turned the resulting good field position into points. Another scoring drive was set up by a Marcus Sherels punt return, and a fourth was aided by a Patrick Peterson interference penalty and a nifty Donovan McNabb pass on the run to a leaping Devin Aromashodu. Before the Cardinals knew what hit them the Vikings were up 28-0. And this week there would be no meltdown…though the game was not without its anxious moments.
Much of the anxiety, expressed by Metrodome fans in the form of boos, was no doubt the lingering result of psychological trauma incurred during the previous three second half choke jobs – but a lot of it was due simply to the shaky play of McNabb. The quarterback once again showed a sometimes alarming lack of accuracy on his passes, and even his better passes were wobbly and not quite on-target. The big pass of the second half, a 60-yarder to Devin Aromashodu, looked like some kind of dying bird fluttering through the air before finally landing safely in the receiver’s hands. And even worse: an attempted short pass to Visanthe Shiancoe that landed five yards in front of the intended receiver, causing the fans to jeer, McNabb to laugh and Shiancoe to get into it with his quarterback on the sideline.
This week McNabb got away with his lame-duck passes, thanks to Adrian Peterson’s hard running and the defense’s uncharacteristic ball-hawking, but that doesn’t mean the McNabb problem has suddenly disappeared. Accuracy remains a big issue for this quarterback and I don’t see that reality changing any time soon. The Vikings were fortunate that this week they faced a quarterback, Kevin Kolb, who is possibly even worse than McNabb. The defense stepped up big and Peterson did his part – even though he once again found tough sledding in the second half – but you can’t expect that sort of performance every week. At some point you need your quarterback to contribute more than 169 yards on 48% passing. A win is great but it doesn’t erase the fact that the passing game is still not anywhere near effective enough for this team to compete consistently.