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Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona Cardinals host Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 13 in a good place.

At 8-3, the Vikings held a half-game lead over the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North. Mike Zimmer’s team had also won six of its last seven games.

Then Sunday happened.

The Vikings were handed a 38-7 beatdown at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It was Minnesota’s worst loss of the season. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson spouted off after the game, saying the Vikings lost because they were outcoached. He also complained about only getting eight carries in a game where his team lost by 31 points.

The disgruntled Peterson and Vikings will be in Glendale Thursday night to visit the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in a pivotal NFC battle.

From now until kickoff, we’ll keep you updated with everything going on with the Vikings as we go … Behind Enemy Lines.


vikingslogoThursday, December 10

Time off last year has Adrian Peterson feeling fresh in fourth quarter (ESPN.com)

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Peterson is averaging 7.94 yards per carry in the fourth quarter this season, which is the highest average of his career by a staggering 1.49 yards. Peterson has found plenty of room to run in the fourth, largely in games where the Vikings have been able to put their power running sets in front of him and move defenders out of the way. He’s averaging 4.36 yards before contact in the fourth quarter this year. But he’s also posting a 3.57-yards-per-carry average after contact, thanks to some of the big runs he’s been able to break as defenses are wearing down.

Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph ruled out for Vikings (ESPN.com)

As the Minnesota Vikings head out to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Thursday night, they’re going to have to face the league’s top-ranked offense without the same key defenders who were missing during Sunday’s 38-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Banged-up Vikings face stiff primetime test against soaring Cardinals (Star Tribune)

Dealing with injuries is nothing new for Zimmer’s defense. That unit has often played the past two months without a standout starter. First it was defensive end Everson Griffen, followed by defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, rookie middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, Smith … and now Barr and Joseph.

Vikings preview: Should the Vikings even bother showing up in Arizona? (Star Tribune)

Of course they should, but the deck is stacked against them in many ways as the Vikings take on the 10-2 Cardinals.

Preview: Can Vikings withstand defensive injuries against high-flying Cardinals? (1500ESPN.com)

Without stalwarts at each level of the defense, Mike Zimmer will have a lot of talent handcuffed to the sideline in one of their toughest tests of the season against the Cardinals’ No. 1-ranked offense led by MVP-candidate Carson Palmer.

Vikings Zimmer, Cardinals Arians Cut from Cloth of Experience (Vikings.com)

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians each had 20 seasons of NFL experience as assistants before they were hired by their respective teams as first-time head coaches.


vikingslogoWednesday, December 9

Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph miss second day of practice (ESPN.com)

The Minnesota Vikings were without nose tackle Linval Joseph, linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith for a second straight day of practice Tuesday, and the chances of their defense being at full strength for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals appear slim.

Adrian Peterson reiterates Vikings were ‘outcoached’ by Seahawks (ESPN.com)

Two days after he said the Minnesota Vikings were outcoached “in so many ways — and outplayed, too” in a 38-7 loss to the Seahawks, running back Adrian Peterson stood by his comments, while reminding reporters he’d also said he could have done more to change the outcome of the game.

Does Teddy Bridgewater hear criticism? ‘He’s human,’ Mike Zimmer says (ESPN.com)

Now that the Vikings are in the middle of a NFC North title hunt, and Bridgewater has 23 career starts to his name, things are starting to change for the 23-year-old quarterback. His numbers — while similar to his solid rookie season in every meaningful respect — haven’t improved with a better complement of receivers and Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Even though Bridgewater has been playing behind a porous offensive line all season, he’s starting to hear it from fans who showered the Vikings with boos during a 38-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Sluggish Vikings offense feels the heat to produce (Star Tribune)

The pressure isn’t only to improve on Sunday’s season-low totals of 31 yards rushing and 125 total yards. Or limit the turnovers and the kind of penalties that put the Vikings in first-and-30 and fourth-and-38 situations against Seattle.

Vikings add a pair of safeties as Exum goes on IR (Star Tribune)

The Vikings signed safeties Shaun Prater and Anthony Harris to the 53-man roster Tuesday and placed safety Antone Exum Jr. on injured reserve.

The moves come less than 24 hours after all four safeties — Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring), Andrew Sendejo (knee), Robert Blanton (knee) and Exum (ribs/shoulder) — missed practice Monday.

Rookie Edmond Robinson preparing for first start, ‘ready to go’ if Barr held out (1500ESPN.com)

One of the guys Zimmer is trying to put in the best spot is rookie linebacker Edmond Robinson, who said he’s being prepared to make his first career start on Thursday night in Arizona as Barr has been held out with a groin injury he re-aggravated in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. Barr has also played through a broken left hand and knee issues.

Teddy Bridgewater said he’ll remember ‘scared’ comment from friend Bruce Irvin (1500ESPN.com)

Teddy Bridgewater was knocked down roughly once every five times he dropped back to pass in Sunday’s 38-7 loss to Seattle.

Afterward, Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, who levied one of the seven QB knockdowns and got his hand on Bridgewater even more than that, said he sensed fear from Bridgewater, the second-year quarterback known for his poise. He’s been pressured at one of the highest rates in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Seahawks took full advantage.

Peterson eager to get more opportunities in Vikings offense (FoxSportsNorth.com)

Adrian Peterson said the more carries he gets, the more he believes he can help a Minnesota Vikings offense that has struggled to consistently deliver big plays.


vikingslogoTuesday, December 8

Mike Zimmer not worried about Adrian Peterson’s critical comments (ESPN.com)

When asked Sunday if he wished the Vikings would have stuck with the run longer, Zimmer said, “Yeah, probably.” And when asked about Peterson’s opinion he should have run the ball more on Sunday, Zimmer said, “He probably should.”

Vikings’ Antone Exum to miss 2-3 weeks with rib, shoulder injuries (ESPN.com)

Antone Exum, who has started the past two games for the Vikings, fractured a rib and injured the AC joint in his shoulder in the first quarter on Sunday, according to a league source.

Vikings’ Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr not practicing Monday (ESPN.com)

Safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive tackle Linval Joseph — who missed all or most of Sunday’s game — were all non-participants during the Vikings’ walkthrough Monday evening. Safety Antone Exum was also not practicing, while safeties Andrew Sendejo and Robert Blanton were watching on the side.

On the NFL: Vikings can’t help but to look ahead (Star Tribune)

As much as we think they might, NFL players typically don’t sulk or cower in corners sucking their thumbs for days after a humiliating loss. Not even when they lose 38-7 at home four days before having to play a 10-2 Cardinals team in Arizona.

Division title likely to be at stake in Vikings-Packers rematch (Star Tribune)

Minnesota, with injury questions on defense and plenty of soul-searching to do after Sunday’s 38-7 loss to Seattle, must travel to Arizona on short rest for a Thursday night game against arguably the most well-rounded team in the league.

The Packers, on the other hand, face a Dallas team loaded with problems — most notably at quarterback, with Tony Romo out with his second major injury of the season.

Kyle Rudolph: Vikings must be able to produce in ‘different ways’ on offense (1500ESPN.com)

“For us as an offense, we need to figure out a way to become multi-dimensional, and adjust throughout the course of the game when things aren’t going well in the run game,” Rudolph said. “We need to be able to make plays in the passing game. We’ve put that on tape a couple times now that if you stop Adrian, you’re going to have a good chance of stopping us offensively. That can’t be the case. We have to be able to win games in different ways offensively.”

Egos bruised, Vikings prepare to fight in Arizona (Fox Sports North)

Traveling to Arizona for a Thursday night game is about as far from a reprieve as the schedule could have afforded the Vikings following their 38-7 defeat by Seattle on Sunday that pushed them back into a first-place tie in the NFC North.


vikingslogoMonday, December 7

Missed tackles plague Vikings against Russell Wilson, Thomas Rawls (ESPN.com)

“We just were on our heels all day,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “It kind of felt that way on the field — just kind of trying to react to what they were doing and not being up to speed with it. We never got comfortable out there, and got those key third-down stops to get off the field, to kind of get yourself in a rhythm and take the rhythm away from them.”

Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin on Teddy Bridgewater: ‘He was so scared’ (ESPN.com)

“He was so scared,” Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin told NFL.com. Teddy’s a really good quarterback, and he’s going to do some big things in this league. But we had him (rattled).”

Vikings’ postseason hopes could be undone by offensive confusion (ESPN.com)

“It seems like all the losses this year, it’s been that way. Every time we end up being one-dimensional on offense, it really makes it hard on [offensive coordinator] Norv [Turner] to call a play,” said guard Brandon Fusco. “You want to be able to run the ball with the best running back in the NFL, wear defenses out, and we just didn’t do that.”

Vikings offensive line taking protection issues personally (Star Tribune)

Constant pressure has also hindered Bridgewater’s ability to make plays and develop the Vikings’ passing game after falling behind early. Bridgewater threw for just 118 yards on Sunday with no touchdowns.

Vikings outplayed, embarrassed in loss to Seahawks (Star Tribune)

The Vikings got another chance to show the rest of the NFL that they are serious Super Bowl contenders — not just a pretty good team that has an uncanny knack for kicking inferior opponents when they are down — when they played host to the two-time reigning NFC champions on Sunday.

Upon further review: Vikings vs. Seahawks (FoxSports.com)

Then Pete Carroll and the Seahawks rolled into town and humbled the Vikings in every way imaginable, in a 38-7 beatdown. Minnesota’s 125 total yards were the fewest in a game by any NFL team this season, according to STATS.

Adrian Peterson: Minnesota Vikings need to ‘evaluate some things’ and being ‘outcoached’ (Scout.com)

“I felt like we were out of sync. Definitely give credit to Seattle; they did a good job of coming in and forcing us to do things differently. They were just the better team,” Peterson said. “They were more aggressive, more physical, and they outcoached us as well.”

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