The Minnesota Vikings have had big halftime leads this season. In their first three games of 2011, they had halftime leads of 10, 17, and 20 points, only to see all of those games get chalked up as losses as part of an 0-4 start.
On Sunday afternoon, they had no such difficulties, tying a team record for points scored in the first quarter with 28 and going into the locker room against the Arizona Cardinals leading by a score of 28-3. The team held on in the second half behind a swarming defense and notched the team's first victory of 2011 by a final score of 34-10 at the Metrodome.
The Vikings defense dominated the early going, forcing two early turnovers from the Cardinals. The first came when Everson Griffen deflected a pass from Cardinals' quarterback Kevin Kolb that wound up in the hands of cornerback Asher Allen on Arizona's third drive of the afternoon. The Vikings capitalized on that turnover one play later, when Peterson cruised in for his second touchdown of the afternoon to put the Vikings ahead by a score of 14-0.
On Arizona's next drive, Brian Robison blew through the Cardinals' offensive line and knocked the ball out of Kolb's hand, with Jared Allen falling on the fumble for Minnesota. On the ensuing possession for Minnesota, Donovan McNabb took it in himself with a four-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-0. After forcing the Cardinals to punt on their next drive, Minnesota drove down the field again, and Peterson again found pay dirt after a 14-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-0. The 28 points in the first quarter tied the franchise record set on September 28, 1986 against the Green Bay Packers.
The Vikings went into the locker room at halftime with a 28-3 lead, and the Cardinals managed to cut it to 28-10 after a 2-yard touchdown run by Chris Wells. . .who you may know as "Beanie". . .with about eight and a half minutes left in the third quarter. However, those would be the last points that Arizona would score on the afternoon, as the Vikings' relentless defense kept pounding on Kolb and company. Vikings' safety Jamarca Sanford got the first two interceptions of his NFL career, nearly returning the second one for a touchdown. Robison and Allen both collected two sacks each in this afternoon's assault as well. The defensive performance was particularly impressive considering that the Vikings did it without all-everything cornerback Antoine Winfield, who sat out today's game with a neck injury.
Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald had a relatively quiet game for Arizona, collecting just four catches for 66 yards on the afternoon.
The 24-point victory for the Viking means that, despite having a record of 1-4, the Vikings have outscored their opponents by a margin of 111-106 this season, making things even more frustrating for this team and their fans. Not every aspect of the game was pretty, as McNabb failed to complete 50% of his passes, completing just 10-of-21 attempts for 169 yards and a score.
The Vikings will make their first prime-time appearance of 2011 next week, as they will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on Sunday Night Football.