Minnesota Vikings 30, Arizona Cardinals 24
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Vikings' Week 11 win over the Cardinals.
Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 74.0
Sam Bradford’s quick passing game gets the job done
With explosive scoring plays coming from the Vikings' defense and special teams, the pressure was not on Sam Bradford to hold the ball or make big plays to steer Minnesota out of its slide. Playing with a lead for much of the game, Bradford could engineer a quick passing game (average time to throw of 2.18 seconds), which limited the impact of the Arizona pass-rush; he was pressured on 10 of his 30 dropbacks, a relatively clean day by this season’s standards. Bradford made zero pass attempts more than 20 yards downfield, but was efficient on short and intermediate throws to keep the Arizona defense spread just enough.
Top offensive grades:
LG Alex Boone, 83.5
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 76.8
C Joe Berger, 74.4
WR Adam Thielen, 69.9
WR Stefon Diggs, 69.3
Explosive plays take the pressure off the offense
Cordarrelle Patterson’s kick-return touchdown and Xavier Rhodes’ interception return took the pressure off the Vikings’ offense, whose biggest playmaker, Stefon Diggs, could get only 35 yards on five catches in his one-on-one battle with Patrick Peterson. Those “bonus” touchdowns allowed for solid offensive performances to put the Vikings over the top. Patterson added another 53 receiving yards, with all but one of those yards coming after the catch. Adam Thielen made plays again, including a spectacular back-shoulder catch in the first half. LG Alex Boone put in a strong showing on the offensive line, but the performances of Jeremiah Sirles and T.J. Clemmings showed that this offensive line is far from out of the woods.
Top defensive grades:
CB Xavier Rhodes, 94.5
DE Everson Griffen, 84.7
DE Danielle Hunter, 84.3
S Harrison Smith, 80.9
DT Linval Johnson, 80.3
Pass-rush swarms to seal the win
Xavier Rhodes set the table for this defensive performance, capitalizing on a pair of miscues in the Arizona passing game to snag two interceptions from Carson Palmer. Having established that lead, the Vikings’ pass-rushers were presented with an opportunity to swarm Palmer, which they didn’t pass up. Four Minnesota pass-rushers racked up five or more pressures, led by nine each from Everson Griffen (three hits, six hurries) and Danielle Hunter (two sacks, two hits, five hurries). The Vikings pressured Palmer on 27 of his 43 dropbacks, and rightfully were the unit to wrap up the victory and chalk up Minnesota’s sixth win of the season.
Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer, 51.2
Pressure, misses, and miscues blight Palmer’s day
When you’re pressured on 63 percent of your dropbacks and one of your top wide receivers stops on a route, leading to an interception, it’s going to be an uphill road to victory. Carson Palmer was strong between the numbers on his short and intermediate throws, but outside the numbers, struggled when he threw across the line of scrimmage; Palmer went 5-for-13 for 55 yards and Xavier Rhodes’ pick-six on throws outside the numbers across the line of scrimmage. Most comfortable when finding Larry Fitzgerald or David Johnson over the middle, this was a return to a rougher performance from Palmer after a couple of stronger showings on either side of Arizona’s bye week.
Top offensive grades:
RB David Johnson, 80.1
WR Larry Fitzgerald, 76.4
C A.Q. Shipley, 71.5
RG Earl Watford, 70.2
TE Jermaine Gresham, 70.0
Fitzgerald and Johnson show their class
In the first half of this game, it seemed like Larry Fitzgerald was on a mission to prove he was the best, most well-rounded football player on the field. An excellent one-handed catch highlighted an efficient first-half performance as a receiver, but Fitzgerald also added value as a blocker, picking his way through traffic in the box to pick off linebackers and safeties and clear a path for star running back David Johnson. The Cardinals’ running back topped 100 yards again this week, running mostly to the right side behind the impressive display of Earl Watford, until the starter was forced to leave the game due to injury. Johnson found the creases consistently to the right side, gaining 79 yards on 11 carries off right guard or wider.
Top defensive grades:
LB Kevin Minter, 87.4
CB Marcus Cooper, 84.7
OLB Chandler Jones, 82.1
CB Patrick Peterson, 81.7
DE Calais Campbell, 80.5
Solid all-around performance by defense comes up short
The Cardinals' run defense limited the Vikings to 3.0 yards per carry, and they only missed three tackles against the run. Against the pass, Arizona allowed only two plays of 20 yards or more, but the explosive plays from the Vikings' defense weren’t matched by the Cardinals. Chandler Jones and Alex Okafor came up with sacks, but the pressure on Bradford, helped in part by the game situation and the speed of the Vikings' passing game, was not as relentless as that on Palmer.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings
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