Vikings-Cardinals game scout

A look at the series history, keys to the game and some fast facts surrounding the Vikings-Cardinals game Sunday.

Sunday
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4) at Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
Seattle Seahawks (2-11) at St. Louis Rams (2-11)
Buffalo Bills (6-7) at New York Jets (8-5)
San Francisco 49ers (5-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-5)
San Diego Chargers (5-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-11)
Green Bay Packers (5-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
Washington Redskins (7-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1)
Tennessee Titans (12-1) at Houston Texans (6-7)
Detroit Lions (0-13) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
Minnesota Vikings (8-5) at Arizona Cardinals (8-5)
New England Patriots (8-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-10)
Denver Broncos (8-5) at Carolina Panthers (10-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
New York Giants (11-2) at Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
Monday
Cleveland Browns (4-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1)

Minnesota Vikings (8-5) at Arizona Cardinals (8-5)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/14/08
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)

SERIES


19th regular-season meeting. Series is tied, 9-9, but Vikings have won two playoff games between the teams. The Vikings beat the Cardinals, 31-26, in the last meeting on Nov. 26, 2006 at the Metrodome.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Whether it's Gus Frerotte (doubtful) or Tarvaris Jackson under center, the Vikings' approach won't change. Arizona allows just 96.5 rushing yards per game, but Minnesota will nevertheless pound away with RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor to set up shots off play-action. Minnesota needs to own time of possession to protect its defense, and Frerotte and Jackson are both far more effective after the ground game has been established.

Arizona is ranked last in the NFL with 75.4 rushing yards per game and will make only a token effort against Minnesota stout run defense. This game will be won or lost through the air for Arizona.

The key for the Vikings is getting a strong pass rush or QB Kurt Warner will dissect their soft Cover-2. But Warner does have six interceptions and two fumbles the past four games, with most of the mistakes coming while under duress.

FAST FACTS

  • Peterson needs 109 yards to break Robert Smith's single-season franchise record of 1,521 rushing yards set in 2000.

  • With one more touchdown pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald, Warner would become the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 10 to two different receivers (Anquan Boldin has 11).

  • The Vikings suffered one of their most gut-wrenching losses in franchise history at Arizona on Dec. 28, 2003. Needing only one victory to win the NFC North, the Vikings held the lead and had the Cardinals facing a fourth-and-25 late in their regular-season finale at Sun Devil Stadium. But wide receiver Nathan Poole caught quarterback Josh McCown's desperation 28-yard pass in the end zone as time expired to give the Cardinals an 18-17 victory. The loss knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers recorded a 31-3 victory over Denver that day and won the division.

  • The Vikings beat the Cardinals, 30-14, in a divisional playoff game on Dec. 21, 1974 at Metropolitan Stadium en route to a Super Bowl berth. After knocking off the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game, the Vikings lost, 16-6, to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl IX. The Vikings also beat the Cardinals, 41-21, in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 10, 1999. That improved the Vikings record to 16-1 on the season. However, the next week they were upset by Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game.

  • DT Kevin Williams had a career-high 10 tackles, three sacks, intercepted the first pass of his career and forced a fumble in the final game of his rookie season on Dec. 28, 2003 against the Cardinals. Williams earned NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for December that year.

  • RB Chester Taylor rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and had three receptions for 35 yards against the Cardinals on Nov. 26, 2006. That was Taylor's first season with the Vikings.

  • K Ryan Longwell has had some of the best games of his 12-year career against the Cardinals, all coming while he was playing for the Green Bay Packers. Longwell recorded career-highs in points (17) and field goals (five) on Sept. 24, 2000 at Arizona and attempted and made a career-high seven PATs on Jan. 2, 2000 against the Cardinals at Lambeau Field.

  • S Darren Sharper had an interception and a career-high six passes broken up against former Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer on Sept. 24, 2000 while playing for the Green Bay Packers.

  • The Vikings have won six of the past seven games and eight of the 10 between these teams since the Cardinals franchise moved from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988.


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