PASSING OFFENSE: D - Never has a quarterback been booed more during a 28-0 first-quarter lead than Donovan McNabb was on Sunday. His first pass was way off target and his second and third passes were nearly picked off. He had one completion when the Vikings built a 28-0 lead thanks to defense, field position and Adrian Peterson. McNabb continues to throw bounce passes and show an overall inability to throw precise passes. He completed just 10 of 21 passes against the Cardinals. Granted, he's still new to this offense, but the inaccuracy is alarming and makes one wonder if rookie first-round draft pick Christian Ponder could do better. Coach Leslie Frazier remains committed to McNabb.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus - This was Adrian Peterson at his best. Frustrated by the team's 0-4 start, he ran angry and made the Cardinals pay with three first-quarter touchdowns of 4, 24 and 14 yards. The 24-yarder was vintage Peterson as he stiff-armed cornerback Richard Marshall at the 21 and blasted through rookie corner Patrick Peterson near the goal line. On the next touchdown, the Vikings' Peterson drove the Cardinals' Peterson from the 6-yard line into the end zone. Donovan McNabb also ran for a first-quarter touchdown. The Vikings ran for 172 yards on 37 carries (4.6).
PASS DEFENSE: A - Missing their leader and best player – Antoine Winfield (neck) – the secondary had three interceptions, a key fourth-and-1 stop and an early tone-setting tackle for loss. Asher Allen, mostly a disappointing third-year pro, had his best game with an interception, six solo tackles and a great tackle of 6-2, 229-pound running back Beanie Wells on fourth-and-1. Safety Jamarca Sanford had the first two interceptions of his career as the Vikings finally closed out a game in the fourth quarter. Vikings corners also contained receiver Larry Fitzgerald by jamming him at the line of scrimmage. He had only four catches for 66 yards. He had no catches when lined up across from Chris Cook, who started in place of Winfield. The Vikings' pass rush also worked in perfect tandem with the coverage. Kevin Kolb was sacked four times, twice each by ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus - Beanie Wells is a powerful back that never got untracked. He ran 20 times but only got 60 yards and a second-half touchdown. The Cardinals averaged only 3.2 yards on 24 carries. Cornerback Asher Allen's stop of Wells on fourth-and-1 at the end of the third quarter kept the Cardinals from building on the momentum of a touchdown earlier in the quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B - Punter Chris Kluwe was questionable because of a hamstring injury, but was exceptional once again. He averaged 47.5 yards on four punts, none of which was returned. His first punt was a 51-yarder that was downed at the Arizona 3-yard line. When the Vikings got the ball back following a three-and-out, they were at the Arizona 18. Punt returner Marcus Sherels averaged 22.5 yards on two returns. The only drawback was Ryan Longwell hooking a 43-yard field-goal attempt wide left. The miss kept him from reaching a career-best 17 consecutive field goals made. But he did come back and make a 53-yarder later.
COACHING: C - The Vikings avoided another second-half collapse, not to mention a 0-5 start that would have matched the 1962 team for the worst start in franchise history. But McNabb and the passing game are so out of sync that it's hard to imagine the Vikings being able to keep pace in most games played in today's pass-happy game. Adrian Peterson had an outstanding game, but the Vikings can't always count on the kind of gifts the Cardinals gave them in the first quarter. The Vikings' first three touchdown drives had an average starting point of the Arizona 22-yard line. In other words, Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has to do something to get McNabb on track and more comfortable throwing the ball. If that's not possible, it's time to give Christian Ponder a look.
Grading the game: Cardinals
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