Turning Point: Second-Team Defense

Arizona's reserve offense appeared to move the ball and score almost at will against the Vikings' second- and third-team defenders. These are the players defensive coordinator George O'Leary hopes he doesn't have to count on during the regular season.

The final box score said 31-27 Arizona, but, like many preseason games, it wasn't indicative of the actual game. The numbers were misleading and the nature of a final preseason game created the turning point of the game.

When the Vikings' first-team defense left the field, Minnesota led 10-3 with 11:07 to play in the second quarter. The purpose of playing the reserves is not only to get a feel for the players on the bubble but to see backups who may be enlisted to play if a starter gets injured. If Thursday night was any indication, pray for the starters to stay healthy.

On the first play with the second-team defense, running back Damien Anderson raced 69 yards for a touchdown. On the next drive, the Cards got in the Vikings red zone before Tim Duncan botched an easy field goal. Those would be the highlights.

After the Vikings scored on the opening drive of the second half to open a 10-point lead, the second team defense allowed Arizona to drive down the field in six plays for a touchdown to cut the lead to 20-17. After the Vikings missed a field goal, it took third-string quarterback Preston Parsons just seven plays to engineer his second straight TD drive to give the Cardinals a 24-20 lead.

The Vikings offense came back with a time-consuming 11-play drive to take a 27-24 lead with 12:03 to play, asking the defense to make a stand in the second half. The result? A 10-play drive for Arizona that culminated with a 1-yard TD sneak by Parsons.

Even late in the game with Arizona committed to the run after the Vikings lost two time outs due to challenges, the Cards ate five minutes off the clock. While the Vikings' starting defense has looked improved, the reserves carry a lot of question marks with them and, at least for this contest, created the turning point of the game.

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