The Arizona Cardinals held off the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, winning 23-20. Arizona took a lead late into the fourth quarter, but a Teddy Bridgewater touchdown pass tied the game and they were forced to put more points on the board.
Those points came when they drove 11 plays in 55 yards, capping the drive with a 47-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro. The Vikings had 1:23 to drive down the field and either tie or win the game, but the Cardinals were able to hold on and stop them.
Minnesota actually drove down into field goal territory, but on a third down play, Bridgewater was attempting a pass when he was hit from behind and fumbled the ball, allowing the Cardinals to kill the clock and seal the win. Dwight Freeney was the player who forced the fumble, and many questions about Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff's clock management will certainly be raised.
Palmer finished 25-of-35 for 310 yards with two touchdowns, while rookie David Johnson had 19 carries for 92 yards. The Cardinals got 102 yards and a touchdown out of Michael Floyd and 78 yards and a touchdown out of John Brown.
Bridgewater finished 25-of-36 for 335 yards and a touchdown, while Adrian Peterson managed just 69 yards on 23 carries. He did have a touchdown though.
There was a lot of scoring early in Thursday's game. The Cardinals had an impressive 14-yard, 71-yard drive that took 7:37 off the clock on the opening possession of the game, but they had to settle for a field goal. The Vikings and Cardinals then exchanged touchdowns on back-to-back 80-yard drives before the game's first punt came.
Minnesota's was a beautiful 9-yard rush from Peterson, who avoided several tackles on the play.
Peterson had a productive first half, with 56 yards and the above touchdown. He's been on fire this season after sitting out most of last season, but finished Thursday's game with just 69 yards.
The second was a huge pass from Palmer to wide receiver John Brown. The Cardinals converted a third down attempt and after an incomplete pass on first, Palmer hit Brown on a play that looked like it wasn't going to amount to much for a 65 yard touchdown. The play looked busted as Palmer rolled out to avoid the pressure, but Brown turned on the jets and burned the Vikings secondary for the big score.
Fortunately for Minnesota, an early fumble for Jairus Wright didn't turn into Cardinals points and the game was tied, 10-10, heading into the second half. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the second half's opening drive ended with a Peterson fumble, which the Cardinals eventually turned into a 42-yard Michael Floyd touchdown pass to take a 17-10 lead. Arizona would increase their lead with a field goal, but the Vikings eventually found the end zone again when Bridgewater hit Mike Wallace for a touchdown with five minutes to go.
Unfortunately, the final minutes didn't go Minnesota's way and the Cardinals improved to 11-2 on the season. Minnesota fell to 8-5.