Turnover-filled half costs Cardinals in loss to Vikings
Kyler Murray threw two second-half interceptions, Arizona lost another possession on a muffed punt and the Cardinals ran out of time in a 34-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Arizona opened the second half scoring with a drive led by DeAndre Hopkins and Zach Ertz, the latter of whom bullied his way for an eight-yard touchdown. That put the Cardinals ahead 17-14 midway through the third quarter. It would end up being their last lead of the game.
The Vikings answered with their own touchdown drive to go ahead 21-17, and that’s when Arizona gave away two of its next four possessions.
Murray’s deep ball targeting Robbie Anderson on a go-route was well short and picked off by Harrison Smith on the first play of the ensuing drive.
“The one backed up, looked like he had someone in his face,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Those were tough in those situations.”
The teams traded touchdown possessions to follow, giving the Vikings a 28-23 lead.
Arizona got a sniff of hope when star backer Isaiah Simmons ended Minnesota’s next possession with a strip-sack fumble recovery that was followed by a Cardinals field goal to make it a two-point game. Yet that possession, which started on the Vikings’ 24-yard line, left a lot to be desired. A touchdown opportunity died on third-and-8 at the 11-yard line when Murray wasn’t ready to accept a snap by center Billy Price.
Kingsbury said that specific play — among others that went awry at the line of scrimmage — wasn’t about crowd noise. While the head coach pointed out the three backups starting on the offensive line, he called it an inexcusable miscommunication issue.
“It continues to show its head and you can’t do that against these good teams,” the head coach added of the frequency of timeouts taken amid confusion before the snap.
Minnesota went three-and-out on the next possession but got the ball back when Arizona returner Greg Dortch muffed the punt. The Vikings took advantage with a quick 25-yard scoring drive.
Kicker Greg Joseph missed the extra point, leaving it a one-possession game at 34-26. Yet Murray was picked off for the second time five plays into the next possession.
Murray went 31-of-44 for 326 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He led the team in rushing with 36 yards on six carries.
While the final yardage totals — 381 for Minnesota and 382 for Arizona — were even, the Vikings dominated on the ground. They outgained Arizona 173-78, a per-carry difference of 6.0 to 3.5.
The first half did not include the turnovers. Still, Arizona’s offense struggled.
Arizona trailed 14-10 at halftime after another sleepy start was saved with a 10-play drive with less than four minutes to play in the second quarter. It was capped by Hopkins pulling in a one-handed catch for a six-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left.
Minnesota’s missed field by Joseph from 56 yards out kept the score even heading into the break.