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Xavier Rhodes’ pick-6 for Vikings burns Cardinals the most

The Arizona Cardinals fell Sunday in a flag-heavy, mistake-riddled game for both themselves and the Minnesota Vikings.

Three plays stood out to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, but one of those perhaps shouldn’t be included on the list of ways Arizona shot itself in the foot during the 30-24 loss.

Down 13-10, Arizona used a 49-yard kickoff return by Brittan Golden and then drove 39 yards to find itself with 3rd-and-goal at the Vikings’ 9. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer dropped back and slung a ball to the left pylon, where receiver John Brown was attempting to break outside.

He couldn’t.

With two Vikings on that side of the field, it was safety Xavier Rhodes who instead caught Palmer’s pass, taking it 100 yards for a touchdown and a momentum swing of possibly 14 points.

Was it a mistake by Palmer, who perhaps didn’t see Rhodes sitting behind his cornerback teammate? Not quite.

A poor route run by Brown? Not that either.

Arians believed it was a hold on the Vikings.

“Well, John was trying to break out and Carson was throwing him out,” Arians told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Paul Calvisi. “He was being held.”

 

The other two plays that stuck with Arians were of a more obvious variety.

The Vikings’ 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half burned after the Cardinals’ spirited halftime meeting, Arians told Calvisi. A few Cardinals ended up on the wrong side of blocks, he added.

Additionally, a flee-flicker play out of Minnesota’s Wildcat formation that saw Sam Bradford’s pass to Adam Thielen draw an interference penalty on Tony Jefferson hurt, too. It set up the Vikings’ just outside the end zone, leading to their second touchdown of the game for a 13-10 lead in the second quarter.

But that pick-six by Rhodes that killed Arizona’s chance to respond was an especially painful play.

“I just felt like we outplayed these guys,” Arizona tight end Jermaine Gresham said after the game in which he scored a late first-half touchdown to pull his team within three points. “I think the turnover battle is huge, especially when we have a swing like that … that’s a 14-point swing.”

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