Peterson scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, but he was put in that situation often because of a stellar defensive effort by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Much of the credit can go to the defensive line.
Defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison stood out among a crowd of pressure, batted down passes, tackles for losses and interceptions.
"We challenged our defensive line and our offensive line during the week to really step up and Jared is having a really unbelievable year and so is B-Rob [Robison]. He is not taking a back seat to anybody in our league," head coach Leslie Frazier. "He is playing lights out football and just makes our defense and our team so much better when you have two defensive ends that play the way they're playing. They are playing at a high level and they're really setting the tone for our defense."
Robison and Allen were right next to each in the defensive stats, filling up the columns that told the story of their impressive afternoon. Each had four tackles and two sacks. Robison added a tackle-for-loss, another quarterback hurry and forced a fumble. Allen registered two tackles-for-loss, three quarterback hurries, a pass defensed and recovered the fumble that Robison caused on QB Kevin Kolb.
"They tried to chip with backs coming out of the backfield with Jared and then they went to my side. The main thing was we stopped the run and we put them in passing situations to where they had to throw the ball," Robison said.
"We knew they were going to come in here and pound the ball. They tried to a little bit. We were able to stop the run and put them in passing situations."
The effort up front helped lead to a big day of turnovers for the defense. Kolb threw three interceptions, lost the ball on Robison's strip and Allen's recovery, and never looked comfortable.
"When you get pressure like that, you can go out there on just one foot and play like that," said cornerback Asher Allen, who had one of the interceptions. "Guys are out there and the quarterback has no time to throw it, he's running around and that gives us a lot of confidence. This defense has been playing like this all year, finally we just put it together for four quarters."
The defensive effort was largely responsible for the offensive success. Three of the Vikings' first four drives started inside the Arizona 30-yard line. After winning the battle of field position to start the game, a 23-yard punt return set up the offense on the Arizona 18-yard line for the first touchdown.
The first interception and then the fumble recovery put the Vikings on the 24- and 25-yard lines to start their next possessions, and they capitalized with touchdowns on each of them.
"I gotta give those guys an A-plus. They did a great job of handing us good field position on several occasions," running back Adrian Peterson said. "We were able to capitalize off of that. You know, that's big in the NFL, field position. Those guys did a good job of doing that, made big plays to put the ball back in our hands. They gave the offense the opportunity to create more drives, to run that clock out, especially in the second half, to put points up there."
The combination of Allen and Robison on the outside led the charge. Allen already has 8.5 sacks through five games, putting him on pace for an NFL-record 27 for the season. Robison has proved to be a good complement, registered 4.5 sacks in five games, putting him on a pace for 14.5 for the season.
Both Robison and Allen were injured late in the third quarter. Allen was poked in the eye while closing in on Kolb and Robison suffered an abdominal injury.
"It cost me a sack. I just saw a white flash. It felt like a finger poking my brain," Allen said. "It opened up, but it will be alright. The bleeding was probably the biggest part of it."
Robison said he just "fell the wrong way" and strained something in his abdominal area.
"I dove for the quarterback, got up, and it felt like somebody shot me in the gut," he said.
Both players returned to action after being examined on the sidelines.
A few stats of note from the Elias Sports Bureau:
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.