The Vikings were down and almost out, but none of the players figured they were out of it as long as Brett Favre was giving them a chance. Plus, get more than 30 notes that help tell the tale of the game.
As the fourth quarter was winding down of Sunday's 27-24 overtime win over the Arizona Cardinals, it appeared as though the Vikings were going to have another one of those "almost" games that Jared Allen
has spoken of – almost winning except for finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
This time, however, the Vikings finished the deal when it was needed the most – scoring 14 points in the final four minutes to send the game to overtime for a 27-24 win.
"I think it speaks to the character of this team," linebacker Ben Leber
said. "We've had so many games come down to the final couple of minutes and haven't found a way to win games we thought we should have. It was nice to finally have things fall our way."
The Vikings have seemingly been snake-bit all season. In all of their losses with the exception of the New England game, the Vikings had the ball with little time remaining with a chance to win – only to have something happen to fail in their attempt to gain a come-from-behind win. Sunday's win was the deepest hole of all – down 14 points with 4:39 to play – but, when the game was on the line, they came through with three straight scoring drives on offense and stout defense.
"The way our season has been going, it would have been easy for this team to hang our heads," Greg Camarillo
said. "I'm proud of these guys. They kept fighting and we still had enough time to get a win. Everybody kept fighting and nobody gave up."
With the turmoil that has been the Vikings' 2010 season – a soap opera dubbed "All My Childress" – there have been plenty of distractions and open public debate about firing head coach Brad Childress. Steve Hutchinson
said this win was just what the team needed to get the focus off the off-the-field distractions and back to the business of football.
"It's no secret that there's been a lot of stuff going on with this organization, particularly off the field over the last few weeks," Hutchinson said. "It just shows the resolve and the heart of this team to rally back, especially in the second half like we did today and come out with a victory."
GAME DAY NOTES
Despite the game being close on the scoreboard, it was a blowout statistically. The Vikings outgained Arizona 507-225, had 28 first downs to just 13 for the Cardinals, ran 70 plays to Arizona's 54 and held the ball for 38:05, as opposed to 27:13 for Arizona.
Favre's 446 passing yards Sunday shattered his career high, which was 402 yards against the Bears in 1993.
Favre's 36 completions tied a career best set in the same 1993 game against the Bears.
Percy Harvin set a career high with 126 receiving yards, posting his second 100-yard game in the last three.
Through his first seven games, Bernard Berrian had just nine catches for 87 yards. On Sunday, he caught nine passes for 89 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald Jr. had seven catches for 107 yards – his first 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Six different Vikings players caught four passes or more and each had 63 or more receiving yards. Fitzgerald was the only Cardinal with more than three catches or 30 receiving yards
The Vikings held the Cardinals to just 53 yards rushing on 21 carries – an average of just 2.5 yards per rush.
Favre had a passer rating of 101.9 Sunday, by far his best of the season.
After posting just six sacks in the first seven games combined, the Vikings sacked Derek Anderson six times Sunday, including 2.5 sacks from Jared Allen, who had just one sack coming into the game.
The Vikings' kick coverage team left something to be desired, having allowed a 96-yard touchdown return on the opening kick of the second half, but the punt coverage team was outstanding – allowing only one punt to be returned and pinning the Cardinals on the 1-yard line in the second half.
To date this season, the longest return the Vikings punt coverage team has allowed has been just nine yards.
Neither team was impressive on third down offensively. The Vikings made good on just three of 12 third downs, while the Cardinals converted just three of 13 tries.
Ryan Longwell has yet to miss a field goal this season, making all eight of his attempts.
Longwell tied a franchise record with his ninth game-winning field goal. He said that, despite the Vikings being down by 14 points with less than five minutes to play, he was still convinced he might have a chance to win it. It would take a lot, but with Favre at quarterback, anything is possible.
"With No. 4 under center – I've seen it too many times – you never, ever count yourself out until there are three zeroes on the clock. I've seen it for 14 years. You give yourself a chance and, when we're called upon – all the credit should also go to (long snapper) Cullen (Loeffler) and (punter Chris) Kluwe) – because they did their job to make mine easy."
Longwell said he had told Childress he would be good if the Vikings got to the 35-yard line, which would be a 52-yard attempt.
After a long drought without a sack, Jared Allen got 2½ sacks Sunday and had to make sure he didn't touch his knee down in celebration to avoid a fine. "The first one was a no-huddle (situation), so I didn't have time celebrate. The second one, I got do it, but I had to pause," Allen said.
On the opening play of the second half, Harvin fumbled a kickoff that was returned for a touchdown by the Cardinals. It was Arizona's fourth fumble return for a touchdown this season, the most for an entire season since the Chiefs scored four in 1991.
The Vikings trailed 14-10 at halftime, but dominated the action. The Vikings held the ball for 17:33 of the half and held the Cardinals to just 14 yards rushing on eight carries.
Individually in the first half, Favre completed 12 of 16 passes for 147 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 97.7. Peterson had eight carries for 33 yards and Harvin had five catches for 84 yards.
Fitzgerald had exactly the same first-half numbers as Harvin, catching five passes for 84 yards.
The Vikings clearly saw something in the Cardinals defense. In the first half alone, Favre threw nine screen passes and bubble screens to try to get open-field yardage.
The Vikings offense got into Arizona territory on each of their first five drives. Arizona didn't get past its own 25-yard line until 5:30 left in first half, yet somehow held a 14-10 halftime edge.
In the second quarter, Adrian Peterson went over 1,000 combined yards for the season. He finished the game with 1,114 total yards – 857 rushing and 257 receiving.
Peterson scored his second career receiving touchdown in the second quarter. His only receiving TD came in his NFL debut in 2007.
With 4:12 to play in the first quarter, the first loud "Fire Childress!" chant rose out from the Metrodome crowd. More would follow, but would never have the full-throat steam of the first.
Midway through the first quarter Vikings fans got a scare when Jared Allen and Ray Edwards collided rushing Anderson and both were down on the field for several seconds. Edwards eventually got up and ran off the field, but Allen left with a limp. Was replaced during the next series by rookie Everson Griffen but returned to the game and played a major role.
Linebacker Chad Greenway had a chance to make a game-changing play early, but dropped an easy interception. He was ruled to have made the pick, but the Cardinals challenged the play and it was overturned. Replays showed that Greenway bobbled and dropped the ball on the Arizona 30-yard line.
Greg Camarillo may have made the play of the year when he hustled to negate what appeared to be a defensive touchdown for the Cardinals. Favre was intercepted by Kerry Rhodes, who appeared to be heading for a touchdown when Camarillo came from behind to punch out the ball, which rolled out of the end zone and went back to the Vikings.
"I've always been taught to hustle on those plays and never give up for that reason," Camarillo said. "It was a momentum play that could have changed the game instantly. The other guys made him cut back inside and DBs don't carry balls. The ball was hanging out, I had one shot and it was there."
The record drought of sacks for the Vikings, which had gone for more than three games, ended on Anderson's first pass attempt when he was sacked by Ray Edwards.
Sidney Rice sounded the ceremonial Gjallarhorn before the game, becoming the first current Viking to sound the pre-game charge to lead the team out onto the field.
The paid attendance was 64,120, the 132nd straight sellout at the Metrodome since 1998.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.