Minneapolis — The Minnesota Vikings returned, literally, to their winning way.
Xavier Rhodes took back one of his two interceptions 100 yards for a touchdown and Cordarrelle Patterson returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a score in Minnesota’s 30-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, helping the Vikings stop their four-game losing streak.
“It’s been a long, long, long month, but it’s good to feel this again,” said coach Mike Zimmer, who urged his team multiple times this week to stop chasing those momentum-shifting plays and focus instead on fundamentals. “It’s good to see the fight that the players had, to see the hard work.”
The Vikings (6-4) held onto their first-place tie with Detroit in the NFC North, with a rematch against the Lions looming in four days. After scoring twice each on defense and special teams during their NFL-best 5-0 start, the Vikings failed to produce a return touchdown over their last four games until this breakthrough. They also sacked Carson Palmer four times, two by Danielle Hunter, for the most since their last victory six weeks ago.
Palmer, who passed for 198 yards and two scores, was off the mark for much of the afternoon and had no time to find anyone on the final two possessions.
“They have a great front. They knew that we were in a position where we must throw,” Palmer said. “So they really pinned their ears back and had some good rushes, and we just couldn’t quite get the ball out.”
David Johnson rushed for 103 yards and a score and tacked on 57 yards and a touchdown receiving, but the Cardinals (4-5-1) netted only 27 yards after halftime. The NFC runner-up last season fell further into the background of the playoff picture.
“It’s an uphill climb, but I feel like with the veterans we have, the leaders, the players we have, we definitely still have a chance,” said Johnson.
Detroit won the earlier meeting over Minnesota, so a victory Thursday would be crucial for the Vikings’ hopes of winning the NFC North.
“(The losing streak) was weighing on everyone,” said Bradford, who went 20-for-28 for 169 yards and a touchdown. “I think you could feel it just at practice and in the locker room. So the joy of winning, it’s a great feeling. That feeling we had in the locker room today, I think it solved a lot of problems.”
Vikings at Lions
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Ford Field, Detroit
Line: Lions by 3
Records: Vikings 6-4; Lions 6-4
Series: Vikings lead 71-37-2