Rapid reactions: Cardinals survive last-minute FG attempt to beat Vikings

Sep 19, 2021, 5:51 PM | Updated: 6:39 pm
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) defends against the Minnesota Vikings during the sec...

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) defends against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 34-33. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Cardinals hung on for a narrow 34-33 win over the Minnesota Vikings to move to 2-0 on the season thanks to missed field goal in the final four seconds of the game.

Kyler Murray put up gaudy touchdown numbers again, throwing for three of them and rushing for one.

However, his two second half interceptions kept the Vikings in the game until the very end.

Here’s what our hosts, editors and reporters at Arizona Sports saw after Arizona’s Week 2 victory.

Kellan Olson, editor: With any game this early in the season, my outlook is trying to figure out what we learned from it, especially if it’s as wacky as this one.

Well, the obvious starting point is that Kyler Murray is a superstar, as I outlined in this space last week. He is also going to make a few really bad decisions a game, a la Josh Allen, and you’ve just got to hope that they don’t bite you. They did in this one, with a pick-six, another pick and going out of bounds on that last drive to give the Vikings more time. Good thing he more than makes up for it.

The other for me is that the Cardinals defense is not a run-stopping juggernaut like it was in Tennessee. It’s probably not a great rushing defense, nor a terrible one. Somewhere in-between, but it was rough against Minnesota, with Dalvin Cook averaging 6.0 yards per carry to the tune of 131 yards.

It was nice to see the penalties toned down, plus the responses from the offense in the first half and the defense in the second half. Rondale Moore looks legit.

I’m hesitant to lean all the way into this team, because it looks like the Titans might not be a top team, and we won’t gain much from a Jaguars matchup in Week 3. But at the very least, the Cardinals are demanding we take them seriously. Will do, fellas!

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Hey 2-0 is 2-0. Got away with one there when the Greg Joseph missed a gimme for the Vikings.

We saw the good and the bad of Kyler Murray today – he was magnificent at times, especially on the TD to DeAndre Hopkins, TD to Moore and his fourth and fifth completion to Christian Kirk. He was miserable on the INT return for a TD and the INT by Xavier Woods when Arizona was in FG range.

But overall he wins the Cardinals games and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Can’t be upset that he will take some chances. Bruce Arians would love him. He is a special, special player and mistakes are going to happen.

Moore may end up being one of Steve Keim’s best draft picks – the kid is a matchup nightmare. The TD, as impressive as it was, was not my favorite play of his. The 18-yard gain and getting out of bounds with one second left to set up the 62-yard FG was a thing of beauty. Could be an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

The Cards defense got off to an awful start as they could not stop Dalvin Cook from churning out the yards in the first half. But they held the Vikings to three points in the second half – not too shabby.

And what can you say about Matt Prater? It’s so nice to have confidence in a kicker to make some big kicks. The NFC West is a juggernaut so this was a necessary win.

Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and editor: A win’s a win.

That’s been the motto for Kliff Kingsbury and the handful of players we interviewed after the game.

The Cardinals’ early-game issues offensively reared their ugly head yet again Sunday. But this time, the Vikings put up a lot more competition than the Titans did in Week 1. Luckily for Arizona, a double-deflection catch made by Maxx Williams helped flip the switch in a big way. The defense looked like a different unit in the second half, limiting Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense in a way it hadn’t for the first two quarters. And Jordan Hicks’ role on this defense cannot be denied.

Rondale Moore continues to prove he might be worth MORE than his second-round price tag already.

A.J. Green found pay dirt and Matt Prater showed he can still kick with the best of them from wayyyy downtown.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: In this league, perfection is a ghost; players and teams chasing something that doesn’t exist. Dominance? It’s as rare as an eclipse or one of those comets that only comes round once every 75 years. And luck? Well, yeah, luck doesn’t hurt. All three factored into the Cards win over Minnesota. Greg Joseph missing a 37-yard FG after a near perfect two-minute drive by the Vikings was lucky. Spin it any other way and you’ll twist yourself into the ground. But so what? Besides, luck wasn’t the only reason why the Cards won this game. It was a reason, but not THE reason.

Perfection? Murray was the very snapshot of it in the first half delivering throws and runs and scrambles that had some national websites proclaiming him the most entertaining player to watch in the league. The second half was a different story: Turnovers that resulted in the only points the Vikings would score in the second half and that unfortunate decision to run out of bounds when the Cards were trying to kill the clock. It’s really hard for me to watch anything he does and not be in awe of it but understand there is still stuff to clean up. There is always stuff to clean up.

As for dominance, the Cards flirted with it on Sunday after full-on embracing it last week. The second half defense changed the Dalvin Cook narrative. After halftime the Vikings went punt, field goal, punt, punt and missed field goal. The offense at times looks as if it can do what it, wants when it wants. Matt Prater went boom. They’re 2-0 and keeping pace in the best division the NFL has to offer. If they can sand down the rough spots, then perhaps 2021 is what we all had hoped it could be.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: It seems almost unfair that a game like Sunday’s 34-33 win by the Cardinals over the Vikings that featured so many great plays comes down to a battle of kickers.

Arizona’s Matt Prater gave his team an enormous jolt of energy by kicking a franchise-record 62-yard field goal to provided a 24-23 halftime lead. On the other side, Minnesota’s Greg Joseph missed an extra point and an attempt to win the game from 37 yards. Sometimes you just need a little luck.

It’s one of those “dodged a bullet” wins for the Cardinals, but at this point, they’ll take it. The first two levels of Arizona’s defense were dominated by the Vikings’ ground game, spearheaded by Cook and their offensive line. But, as the game wore on (and possibly Cook wore down), the Cardinals defense stiffened. They allowed only 127 yards in the second half, with only 35 of those courtesy of Cook.

Murray was, for most of the game, ridiculous. Yes, he did throw two interceptions, including a pick-six by Minnesota linebacker Nick Vigil that gave the Vikings a 30-24 lead early in the second half. But Murray’s ability to make plays appears to be on a different level this year. His 77-yard touchdown pass to Moore after scrambling in the first half was a thing of beauty. His fourth-and-5 rainbow throw against an all-out blitz to Kirk was equally as sexy. That eventually led to Prater’s 27-yarder to give the Cardinals a one-point lead with 4:49 left in the fourth.

But after that, the Cardinals forced a three-and-out and the combination of Kliff Kingsbury’s play-calling and Murray’s decision making nearly (and probably should’ve) cost the Cardinals the game. On first down, Murray’s decision to run out of bounds to stop the clock, allowing Minnesota to preserve a timeout was inexplicable. Then it was back-to-back incomplete passes to A.J. Green wrapping up a 36-second possession and opening the door wide open for the visitors from the North to win the game.

The Cardinals are 2-0 for the second straight season. In 2020, that start was followed up by consecutive flat performances against Detroit and Carolina. Hopefully that experience will keep the Cardinals from a letdown against a bad Jacksonville team next week.

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Rapid reactions: Cardinals survive last-minute FG attempt to beat Vikings