The Cardinals mistake-prone offense was terrible again on Sunday, as led by Adrian Peterson’s three first quarter touchdowns, the formerly winless Minnesota Vikings rolled to an easy 34-10 win over the now 1-4 Cardinals.
“We’ve got guys wide open on offense, we can’t make tackles on defense, we make mistakes,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We can sit here all day and say that there are opportunities to make plays, but at some point you’re not getting it done and that’s frustrating.”
Kevin Kolb completed 21 of 42 passes for 232 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble. Kolb had five passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage and the Cardinals also had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
“It felt good just to get a ‘W’ first and foremost and get out of this slump. It was a good test for us, and we did what we’ve been preaching,” said Peterson, who rushed 29 times for 122 yards.
Donovan McNabb jogged in for a score, too, and the Vikings (1-4) went ahead 28-0 less than 12½ minutes into the game. “There isn’t a magic wand that we can wave, and all of a sudden it will get better. But we are going to keep plugging at it, and we will get better,” Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin said.
From McNabb’s bounced passes to Kolb’s errant throws, neither former Philadelphia quarterback played well. McNabb’s final numbers against what had been a leaky Arizona secondary were 10 completions, 21 attempts, 169 yards and a bunch of boos.
“I don’t worry about it all, because at the end of the day you look up and you see a win,” McNabb said. “We’re excited about it.”
The Vikings started three straight first-quarter drives at the Arizona 18, 24 and 25, stretching their lead so large so quickly the fans stopped chanting for rookie Christian Ponder. McNabb and the Vikings were still jeered off the field at the half with a 28-3 advantage after a sack prompted a run-out-the-clock order from coach Leslie Frazier.
“It’s not one person making a lot of mistakes. It’s all of us making one or two mistakes. That’s where details come in,” Kolb said. “You’re never going to find non-belief in this locker room. We felt like we had a chance the whole time.”
The Cardinals had six possessions in the first quarter, only once crossing their own 30. Kolb’s batted pass was intercepted by Asher Allen, and Brian Robison knocked the ball out of Kolb’s hand on a speed rush to end another series before it started.
“Our guys have got to grow up and start making those plays,” Whisenhunt said.
The Cardinals head into their bye week with a lot of questions. Kolb has been shaky in his first season after being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia, the defense has shown a propensity to give up big pass plays and Kerry Rhodes (foot) and Darryn Colledge (head) both went down with injuries Sunday.
“We didn’t get it done today,” a clearly disappointed Whisenhunt said. “We’re going to look at what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.”
Beanie Wells had 60 yards rushing on 20 carries with a touchdown while playing with a sore hamstring and Early Doucet had eight catches for 92 yards for the Cardinals. Doucet’s numbers would have been bigger, but his 11-yard TD from Kolb in the fourth quarter was wiped out by an illegal hands to the face penalty on right tackle Jeremy Bridges.
“Today obviously was the worst game we’ve played all season,” said receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was held to four catches for 66 yards and had a drop in the first quarter. “The last three we were in contention, we were close, but this one got out of hand early.”
The Cardinals could’ve easily finished the first quarter of the season undefeated, too, losing by a total of eight points to Washington, Seattle and the New York Giants. In the modern NFL, however, it’s usually those seemingly innocent inconsistencies and the inability to finish games strong that suggest real problems.
The Vikings gave the Cardinals their chance to get back in this one, too, when a fumble lost by Michael Jenkins on the first drive of the third quarter gave them the ball near midfield.
Kolb was under heavy pressure on the next drive, but he finally found Fitzgerald for a critical back-shoulder completion near the goal line, and Beanie Wells rumbled in on the next play to cut the lead to 28-10. An eerie silence came over the crowd, as if everyone in the stadium started to dread another collapse.
But on the ensuing possession, McNabb found Devin Aromashodu, who took over Bernard Berrian’s role as the deep-route wide receiver, on a crossing pattern that netted 60 yards. That drive at least ate up some time and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell, the first score by the Vikings in more than 29 minutes.
Wells was tripped up on fourth-and-1 on Arizona’s next drive at his own 47 by Allen — playing for absent stalwart Antoine Winfield, out with a neck injury — and the Vikings took over in Cardinals territory.