At times in Sunday's 21-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals, it seemed as though the Vikings were doing everything they could to allow the Cardinals to stay in the game. From a 103-yard kickoff return to start the game getting called back to allowing seldom-used running back LaRod Stephens-Howling to rush for 100 yards, many of those after contact, the Vikings never seemed to get into a rhythm on offense and depended heavily on their defense.
It seemed as though the Vikings defense was on the field much more than the 35 minutes, 5 seconds the final stats said they were, but perhaps it was that Arizona was constantly on the verge of being in scoring position that made it seem worse than it may have been.
Of the 12 drives Arizona had Sunday, 10 of them got into Vikings territory and one of the two that didn't got as far as the Arizona 48-yard line. It made for a long day for the Vikings defense and, when made aware of the number of times Arizona got past midfield, Kevin Williams seemed impressed that the Vikings allowed the Cardinals to score just twice – one of those coming with less than two minutes left in the game.
"That's a lot, that's really a lot," Kevin Williams said. "One of our main things on the goals sheet is points allowed. If they don't score, they can't win. It was great for us to hold them off. I just didn't know it was that many times, but it did feel like we were out there the whole game. It didn't seem like were ahead in the game. Now that I know it was 10 times they were in our territory, it seemed like we were losing the game. We kept sawing away and were able to get the win."
What saved the Vikings was what has led to the Cardinals' recent downturn after starting off 4-0 only to lose their last three games – quarterback sacks. In their previous three games, Cardinals quarterbacks had been sacked 22 times and nothing changed Sunday. The Vikings rolled up seven sacks, three of those coming from Brian Robison, who said he thought there could have been seven more that the defensive line was just a half-step away from notching.
"When sacks come, they tend to come in bunches," Robison said. "It rang true today. It always feels good to get to a quarterback and bring him down and get those sacks in the column. We don't want a team to get into our end of the field that often, but the bottom line is that we stood up when we needed to stand up."
Sometimes it isn't the aesthetics of a win that makes it memorable, it's the big plays when they're needed most that make the difference between winning and losing a game. To look simply at the numbers, one could easily assume the Cardinals won the game, but in the end, the Vikings improved to 5-2 and are keeping the momentum of their 2012 season building.
"It certainly wasn't pretty football, but it was winning football," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "That's all that really matters. At the end of the day, you're judged on wins and losses. It wasn't always the way we wanted it to be, but we made enough plays when we had to in order to come away with the win."
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.
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