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The Setup
Cards are coming off a near-perfect preseason win over Houston. Vikes are in a bit of a QB controvers. Lindley gets the opportunity to prove he's as good as Logan Thomas (who was extremely impressive in 2 quarters vs. the Texans). Cards will continue to sort out starters vs. backups and backups vs. street.

The Lede
It looked like the Cards had been handed a gift by the officials with less than 1:25 left in the game, but a myopic blitz-obsessed defense managed to give the game right back to the Vikes as the Cardinals lost to the Vikings 30- 28.


The Bottom Line:
NFL.com's play-by-play log remains unclear but as best I can describe it: The Cards were on the Viking 6-yard line, down 24 - 21 - 4th & goal with 1:20 left in the game. Ryan Lindley muffed the snap. the scrum for the loose ball resulted in it being scooped backward (before it rolled forward) where it was picked up by RB Zach Baumann who took it in for what appeared to be the winning Cardinal score. But, instead of draining time off the clock by protecting the sidelines during the next Viking possession, Todd Bowles blitzed on every down, enabling Teddy Bridgewater to complete 5 consecutive passes on a 7-play TD drive capped by a 2-yard completion to TE (who else?) R. Smith. XP was missed. Lindley couldn't do much during the remaining 0:13. Final Score: 30 -28 Vikes.

The Cards played their starters for about a quarter, their 2nd unit for the second quarter and their backups for the entire second half. To really know how various "non-skill-position" players actually did will require more analysis, but my overall impression was that (with the exception of Jaron Brown's outstanding evening) the Cards lost most of the one-on-one battles and made far fewer big plays than the Vikings. Granted, Minnesota played its starters far deeper into the 2nd quarter, and the Cards got a healthy look at backups near the bottom 20% of their depth chart but, at best you could say it was an "average" performance - certainly below the level of play we saw in the Houston game.

Overall, we didn't play terribly and held our own for the first one or two quarters, but (with the exception, perhaps of Jaron Brown) we didn't flash very many "moments of greatness" either. Since preseason games are mostly "auditions", if I were a backup, I'd be concerned if I were Sowells, Ohrian, Walters, a pas rushing specialist or any safety with TE-coverage responsibility

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Vikes received and started from their own 22. First play (& the beginning of a pattern) was a 17-yard completion from Cassel to his TE (Rudolph). Cards then forced the Vikes to punt from their own 41 four plays later. A flag on the punt pinned the Cards back at their own 7-yard line. Carson Palmer then led his team on a 9-play TD drive featuring a 20-yard completion to Fitz, a nifty 51-yard catch & run down the left sideline by Jaron Brown and a 16-yard catch & run by Andre Ellington. Drive was capped by a one-yard TD run by Jonathan Dwyer. Cards 7 - Vikes 0.

  • An off-side penalty on the KO gave the Vikes possession at their own 32. Cassel led his team on a 13 play (7:35) drive ending at he Cardinal 3-yard line where Walsh booted a 21-yarder. The impression I got during the drive was that Cardinal defenders were a bit sloppy in tackling execution and somewhat out-of-control in their gap-discipline. With the exception of a 19-yard completion to Simpson and a 23-yard scramble by Cassel, no other Minny play exceeded 7 yards. Cards 7 - Vikes 3.

  • Touchback on the KO. Despite two early Minny penalties, Carson and his offense couldn't get much going. Cards punted from their own 45. Sherels returned the punt 32 yards to the Viking 38 to end the quarter. First Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Vikes 3.

2nd Quarter
  • (After a penalty on Dan Williams) Cassel hit his TE(Rudolph) again - this time for 51-yards and a TD. Vikes 10 - Cards 7.

  • Golden returned the KO to the Cardinal 10. Stanton in for Palmer. Cards were held to 3 & out and punted from their own 13. Punt was returned 2 yards to the Viking 49. An 11 yard completion to Jennings helped get the Vikes to the Cardinal 28 and (after a nice Okafor tackle defending a sweep-left for a 5-yard loss) set up a 51-yard FG attempt that was wide off the left upright.

  • Cards took over on their own 41, and Stanton led the offense on an 11 play (6:07) TD drive capped by a one-yard completion to Fells (who redeemed himself for missing a block earlier on a short-yardage running play) for the score. Key play was another acrobatic grab by Jaron Brown (this one for 37 yards). Other than the Brown heroics, the longest play of the drive was for just 7 yards. Cards 14 - Vikes 10.

  • 3:05 left til halftime. A penalty on Bucannon on the KO (and a 44 yard return by Banyard) gave Minny great field position at their own at their own 49. A 14-yard completion to Rudolph (again!) and a 16-yarder to Jennings helped set up a 34-yard Walsh FG. Cards 14 - Vikes 13.

  • Halftime Score: Cards 14 - Vikes 13.

3rd Quarter
  • Cards received - TB on the KO. Lindley in for Stanton. He led the offense on a 19-play (10:06) touchdown march wrapped up by a one-yard TD run by Hughes. Longest plays of the drive were an 11 yard completion to Golden and 9-yarders from Lindley to Powell and Hardy. Cards 21 - Vikes 13.

  • Bridgewater in for Cassel. Vikes started off from their 9-yard line and a 56-yard run up the middle by Banyard helped get them to the Cardinal 4 as the quarter ended. Walters took a poor angle to allow Banyard to pop right thru the gap. Third Quarter Score: Cards 21 - Vikes 13.
4th Quarter
  • On the 2nd play of the quarter, Walsh booted one for 21 yards. Cards 21 - Vikes 16.

  • TB on the KO. Lindley held to 3 & out. Punt was out of bounds at the Minny 32. Bridgewater used 10 plays (4:55) to march his team down to the Cardinal 3 where he hit Reasoner (another TE???) for a TD. Two-point conversion was good. Vikes 24 - Cards 21.

  • Plenty of time (7:57) left. TB on the KO. Despite a 20-yard Lindley to Golden completion, the Cards (who appeared ready to "go for it" - 4th & 3 at the Viking 42 but were pushed back by another Sowell false start penalty - were forced to punt from the Viking 47. Fair caught at the Viking 10 with 3:53 left. Renfrow's sack (for minus-8) helped force a punt at the 2:00 mark. Golden returned the punt 7 yards to the Viking 49 with 1:49 left to play. Another false start call on Sowell helped eat into two Viking defensive penalties (one for Interference/the other for roughing the passer) which brought the Cardinals to the Minnesota 6-yard line with 1:25 left (& where the weirdness continuued - Lindley muffed the snap. During the scrum for the ball, RB Zach Baumann picked up the ball and carried it in for what looked like the game winning TD. Cards 28 - Vikes 24.

  • 1:11 left. KO returned to the Minny 17. Operating against a blitz-happy man-defense, Bridgewater completed 5 straight passes (for +10, +6, +12, +37 and +8 aided by a roughing the passer penalty). After an incompletion - with 0:22 to play - Bridgewater hit R Smith (Was he a TE? - just wondering) for the 2-yard winning touchdown. XP was missed. Vikes 30 - Cards 28.

  • LIndley couldn't do much with the remaining 0:13. Final Score: Vikes 30 - Cards 28.

Game Stats

Offense:

  • Passing Efficiency. Palmer was 4 for 8, 91 yards, no picks orTD's. Stanton was 6 for 8 for 81 yards, no picks and a TD. Lindley was 8 for 15 and 64 yards, no picks or TD's.

  • Rush Yards: 96 yards total on 34 carries.

  • Run Game: Carries were spread around. Longest gainer was Golden on an end around for +20.

  • Receiving: Golden had the most catches (4 for 71 yards). Jaron Brown had the most yards gained (86 on 2 completions). John Brown had catch but dropped one gimme (that hit him on the numbers) wide open over the middle

Defense:

  • Run/Pass Ratio: 34 /32.

  • Sacks: Renfrow had our only sack. (Our offense only gave up one sack).

  • Leading Tacklers: Powers, Foote, Walters and Bucannon were tied for leading tackler with 4 apiece..

  • Field Goals: None attempted/none made by Feely (who was 4 for 4 in extended XP's).

  • Turnover Ratio: +0 (No picks or fumbles made or given up).

  • Penalties: 12 for 61 yards (Minny was flagged 10 times for 102).

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 7 for 15 (46%). (Minny was 3 for 9 (33%). Cards were a perfect 4 for 4 in 4th down efficiency.

  • Time of Possession: 31:20 to 28:40

Bright Spots

  • It was only a preseason game. We were ahead at halftime and in it till the very end. After the 1Q, the Vikes tended to be one unit better than us on matchups.

  • Palmer and Stanton looked efficient.

  • By and large, we protected our QB's.

  • Dwyer and Hughes showed solid if not spectacular short yardage production.

  • Jaron Brown certainly looks as if he belongs with the "lead pack" of Fitz and Floyd.

  • The Fells TD catch is at least a step forward in his production.

The Dark Side

  • Lindley did not match L Thomas' output (& he had ample opportunity to do so late in the game).

  • We only averaged 2.8 yards per carry on the ground.

  • Did I count three false starts on Bradley Sowell?

  • Speaking of penalties - 12 is way too many.

  • Bucannon notwithstanding, we continue to have problems covering opposing TE's.

  • I don't recall seeing hands up on the pass rush very often.

  • Backup defenders who caught my eye (for the wrong reasons) - Walters (poor angle on Banyer run). Sowell (penalties), Orhian (always seemed to be the culprit on key plays made by the Vikes).

  • Was Todd Bowles going "blitz happy" late in the game for tactical reasons? Or was he merely getting an extra-long look at how well certain defenders got after the passer, played man coverage etc.? Tactically, it didn't work. Bridgewater was able to handle the pressure and we allowed his receivers to repeatedly get out of bounds to stop the clock.

  • Feely doesn't quite have the KO leg that the Cat has.

Last Word:
We didn't look awful, it was preseason and we were probably trying a lot of different stuff but unless we play better for all 4 quarters, it's unlikely we'll reach the playoffs playing at that level (but fortunately we can do better). From a roster-survival standpoint, our crucial preseason game is next week vs. Cincy. (Cuts to reach the 75-player roster limit won't tale place till the day after that game). It should be an exciting week.
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012