Final

Cardinals 26

(2-9, 0-5 away)

Vikings 31

(5-6, 3-3 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, November 26, 2006

 

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 7 6 0 1326
MIN 7 7 10 731

Top Performers

Passing: M. Leinart (ARI) - 405 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: C. Taylor (MIN) - 27 CAR, 136 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: L. Fitzgerald (ARI) - 11 REC, 172 YDS

Vikings stifle Cardinals' run game, hold on late for win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Arizona coach Dennis Green expected to see a bumbling, mistake-prone Vikings offense upon his return to Minnesota.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
The Arizona Cardinals had four turnovers that proved to be the difference in a game that was closer than the score may have indicated. Neither team played very well, but the Vikings looked good running the football and controlling the clock. Running back Chester Taylor helped move the chains and quarterback Brad Johnson (above) was able to pick apart the secondary of the Cardinals.

Instead, the unit welcomed Green back with the kind of prolific performance that fans took for granted when he was the coach here, finally giving the Vikings defense the help it has so desperately needed.

Brad Johnson threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns, Chester Taylor rushed for 136 yards and a score and Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The win was as long overdue as the touchdowns.

"It's been a month. Really, it's been a long time," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "Those guys are elated to get it."

The defense delivered its usual solid performance, forcing five turnovers and allowing just 17 yards rushing.

"The defense did a great job again," Taylor said. "We knew we had to start getting points for them. ... They created turnovers and this time we capitalized with touchdowns and points off them."

The Cardinals (2-9) got a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by J.J. Arrington on the opening play of the game and a 99-yard fumble return for a score by Adrian Wilson in the fourth, but couldn't overcome the turnovers, penalties and a suddenly productive Vikings (5-6) offense.

"This is the first time we've played pretty well on the road and had a chance to win at the end," rookie quarterback Matt Leinart said. "I thought we showed a lot of fight as an offense and as a defense, and special teams contributed. All around I thought it was a great effort, we just ran out of time."

Leinart threw for a career-high 405 yards and two interceptions, but managed only one TD -- a 9-yard pass to Anquan Boldin with 39 seconds to play -- that came too little, too late.

The Vikings sure know how that feels.

Minnesota had scored just four offensive touchdowns during the four-game losing streak, and some of the defensive players were growing increasingly impatient with a unit that constantly came up short in the red zone.

Johnson was drawing much of the criticism, having thrown nine interceptions and just one touchdown during that span.

But he came back on Sunday against his former coach, throwing TDs to Marcus Robinson, Billy McMullen and Jeff Dugan, a tight end who was converted to fullback when Tony Richardson was lost for the season.

"Two weeks ago, Jeff Dugan was holding the clipboard and this week he's scoring a touchdown," center Matt Birk said. "That's what we need."

The Cardinals made things interesting after Leinart hit Boldin for the late score. Darryl Blackstock recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Leinart's desperation heave into the end zone as time expired was intercepted by Dwight Smith to seal the win.

All Green could do was stare blankly at the field as he watched his young team give away another game. Green last coached a regular season game in the Metrodome on Dec. 23, 2001, a 33-3 loss by the Vikings to Jacksonville that was the beginning of the end of a stormy 10 years in purple.

He racked up an impressive 97-62 record here, but lost both times the Vikings appeared in the NFC championship, including a 41-0 drubbing to the Giants after the 2000 season. In his third season in the desert, Green's job security is in question again.

The Cardinals entered the day tied with Detroit and Oakland for fewest wins in the league, and Green has been unable to recreate the high-flying offense that got him so many wins in the Dome.

Green was curt during the postgame press conference, saying this game was no different than any other he's coached in a career that spans three decades.

"Just a game that we hoped to win that we didn't win," he said.

Larry Fitzgerald Jr., who starred at Holy Angels high school in Richfield, Minn., and was a Vikings ball boy under Green, had 11 catches for 172 yards and Boldin had nine catches for 140 yards for the Cardinals.

"This was a huge game for me, my team, Coach Green, so we wanted to win this game and we fought until the end but we shot ourselves in the foot a few times," Fitzgerald said.

A relieved Johnson can sympathize with that.

"All season long, our problem is we've killed ourselves," Johnson said. "We didn't have the penalties in the red zone today. It was nice to see us score."

Game notes


Cardinals K Neil Rackers booted a 21-yard field goal and a 50-yarder, but missed a 41-yarder wide left in the third quarter. ... Arrington had 220 return yards. ... Robinson had seven catches for 82 yards for Minnesota. ... It was Johnson's first three-touchdown game since Nov. 27 of last season, a span of 16 games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ARI
MIN
1st Downs2230
Passing 1st downs
1920
Rushing 1st downs
19
1st downs from penalties
21
3rd down efficiency
2-97-15
4th down efficiency
2-32-2
Total Plays5876
Total Yards412412
Yards per play7.15.4
Total Drives1211
Passing395255
Comp-Att
31-5127-41
Yards per pass
7.65.9
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-102-16
Rushing17157
Rushing Attempts
633
Yards per rush
2.84.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-44-5
Penalties8-648-63
Turnovers51
Fumbles lost
31
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs20
Possession23:2836:32

Passing Leaders

ARIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Leinart31/514057.9121-10
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Johnson27/412716.6302-16

Rushing Leaders

ARICARYDSAVGTDLG
James4153.8014
Ayanbadejo122.002
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Taylor271365.0128
Johnson3155.0010

Receiving Leaders

ARIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Fitzgerald1117215.6034
Boldin914015.6129
MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Robinson78211.7122
Taylor55611.2017

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERARIMIN
ariTD15:00J.J. Arrington, 99 yd kickoff return (Neil Rackers kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 99 yds, 0:00
70
minTD9:45Chester Taylor, 1 yd run (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yds, 5:02
77
SECOND QUARTERARIMIN
ariFG13:31Neil Rackers 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yds, 3:04
107
ariFG3:53Neil Rackers 50 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 57 yds, 4:40
137
minTD0:37Marcus Robinson, 17 yd pass from Brad Johnson (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 3:17
1314
THIRD QUARTERARIMIN
minTD10:41Billy McMullen, 9 yd pass from Brad Johnson (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:23
1321
minFG6:42Ryan Longwell 40 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 32 yds, 3:38
1324
FOURTH QUARTERARIMIN
minTD12:07Jeff Dugan, 3 yd pass from Brad Johnson (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 35 yds, 3:02
1331
ariTD10:27Adrian Wilson, 99 yd fumble return
Drive info: 1 plays, 98 yds, 0:29
1931
ariTD0:58Anquan Boldin, 9 yd pass from Matt Leinart (Neil Rackers kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yds, 1:10
2631