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Cardinals miscues give struggling Vikings life in loss

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer threw an interception to Minnesota Vikings safety Xavier Rhodes for a 100-yard return and touchdown on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Associated Press)

The Arizona Cardinals had it going on offense, initially at least.

But all while doubling up the Minnesota Vikings in yardage during their first half in Minneapolis on Sunday, the Cardinals gave their opponent life with back-breaking miscues, first with a special teams breakdown and later with a momentum-killing interception by quarterback Carson Palmer.

Arizona trailed 20-17 at halftime despite piling up 263 yards, double that of the Vikings’ 109, and 19 first downs to just seven for Minnesota, and the second half hardly went better. More mistakes and just 27 yards of offense doomed the Cardinals in their 30-24 loss.

Here’s a list of big plays that put the Cardinals in need of a rally as the Vikings became the first since the Browns in 2009 to score multiple 100-yard touchdowns of any sort.

— Recently re-signed Cardinals punter Drew Butler’s first punt on the first possession came from Arizona’s 31-yard line but went just 36 yards and was returned 23 yards to give Minnesota its first possession in Arizona territory. The Vikings took advantage, running five plays to go 44 yards on a drive capped with a touchdown catch by receiver Adam Thielen that put Minnesota ahead 7-0.

— Trailing 13-10 later on, Brittan Golden’s 49-yard kickoff return that followed added to the Cardinals’ special teams momentum. But instead of a score after a successful drive, quarterback Palmer threw an interception to Vikings safety Xavier Rhodes at the goal line. Rhodes returned it 100 yards for a touchdown and a 20-10 Minnesota lead.

— Palmer earned redemption quickly, leading Arizona on a 75-yard drive in 2:17 to pull his Cardinals within a field goal at halftime, but a locker room breather would not help Arizona patch the holes. Minnesota led off the third quarter with a 104-yard kickoff return touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson for a 27-17 lead.

— After two three-and-outs by the Cardinals offense, Palmer threw his second interception with 5:20 left in the third quarter, setting up a field goal that put the Vikings up 30-17.


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