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Week 6 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 17, Minnesota Vikings 27


What you need to know

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were overmatched for much of the game at Minnesota. However, two turnovers and an unbalanced offense with David Johnson being shut down on the ground minimized their chances. Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk, their two beacons of optimism on offense in the big picture, both showed well against a rising Vikings defense. One of the main concerns for Josh Rosen and the passing game is in obvious third-and-long situations. The offensive line allows consistent pressure in those situations to halt drives and limit offensive potential. For David Johnson, the creativity for touches still is lacking from a play-calling perspective and Johnson rarely found the second level this week.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings did everything they could to make sure the game remained interesting against the Cardinals this week. Everything from allowing a forced fumble returned for a touchdown to a rushing touchdown from Kirk Cousins. Adam Thielen extended his own record with another 100-yard receiving game to start the season, and the team finally had their first player with 100 rushing yards this season. Dalvin Cook was a surprise late scratch and Latavius Murray took advantage of the league's worst rush defense. In a week where several star running backs found success, Murray ranked near the top in all of those performances. The Vikings move to 3-2-1 on the season and only sit behind the Bears because of the earlier tie to the Packers. The Vikings will travel to New York next week to take on a resurgent Jets offense.

Arizona Cardinals

QB Josh Rosen, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 31 - 240 - 0 TD / 1 INT
The Cardinals struggle to finish scoring drives and protect the passer on obvious passing situation. Josh Rosen fared well against Minnesota assuming those two premises as Rosen continues to show accuracy, pocket navigation, and boldness down the field at his best. Rosenís best throws included perfect deep passes to Christian Kirk on a post and Ricky Seals-Jones and Larry Fitzgerald on other deep routes. The downfall again this week was the offensive line not holding up on third-and-long, leading to early pressure and drive-halting sacks. Rosenís interception came on an inside throw towards Larry Fitzgerald, with a lurking defender, who eyed Rosen all the way. The key in 2018 with Rosen is development and traits as Arizona lacks the offensive line and receiving weapons to challenge many opponents for four quarters. Rosen has also been hurt by a minimal running game, which was again the case this week.

RB David Johnson, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 55 - 1, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (5 targets)
The search for optimizing Johnsonís offensive touches continued against the Vikings. On the plus side, Johnson converted a goal line opportunity to salvage a touchdown, but he had more missteps than positive ones. Johnson uncharacteristically dropped a red zone target and lost a fumble as well as being stuffed on a fourth-and-one carry at the goal line. The positive plays were limited to such an extent, Johnsonís 10-yard run in the second half, powering through defenders, stood out for his performance. Screen passes and being lined up as a receiver have been fleeting moments through six games and despite 20 touches for the second straight week, Johnson has not eclipsed 80 total yards in either.

WR Christian Kirk, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 77 - 0 (7 targets)
Kirk led Arizona in receiving yards against the Vikings, posting his third quality performance in the past month. Kirkís usage was a mix of quick game targets and deeper routes, including a deep post and seam reception as highlight moments. The chemistry and trust with Josh Rosen is strong and with Larry Fitzgerald waning in his interior usage, Kirk is vital to Arizona moving the ball through the air. Kirk showed his after-the-catch ability again this week with nice moves following a screen for 10 yards. Kirkís lone target which was not caught was the result of a drop, not an inaccurate pass by Josh Rosen.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 39 - 0 (8 targets)
Fitzgerald has been in a funk since Week 1, failing to surpass even 40 yards in any of the previous five games. Fitzgerald was already playing a hearty amount of his snaps in the slot and now is struggling to separate much at all even on interior routes. Fitzgerald led the team with eight targets, but his quality plays were minimal. Fitzgerald was stuffed on a screen catch and, more glaring, was misplaying a deep fourth down pass into tight coverage. Josh Rosen arced a well-thrown ball to Fitzgerald, a drop in the bucket display of accuracy, however Fitzgerald did not locate the pass in time and Arizona turned the ball over on downs. On the plus side, Fitzgerald did draw a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone, which led to a touchdown, and make a diving reception versus contact.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 69 - 0 (6 targets)
Seals-Jones played well against Minnesota, showing his hybrid wide receiver and tight end profile downfield. Seals-Jonesí production centered on two chunk gains, one a perfectly thrown deep ball by Josh Rosen into tight coverage. In previous games, Seals-Jones has struggled to locate the ball early enough to make a quality attempt at the reception, but the timing was perfect in this instance. Seals-Jonesí lone opportunity for a touchdown came on a contested goal line target which had minimal chance to be completed. With wide receivers outside of Christian Kirk rarely impacting the offense, Seals-Jones is turning into one of Arizonaís viable downfield threats.


Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 34 - 233 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 14 - 1, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)
The Vikings have relied on the right arm of Kirk Cousins all season long and this is the first game where they really did not need to. If anything, Cousins almost proved to be a detriment to the team this week with 2 turnovers and being sacked 4 times. The fumble he lost was picked up by the defense and returned for a touchdown and his interception came on the Viking half of the field. Thankfully the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs after that play, but they had gotten the ball to the 1-yard line before the defense made the stop. Cousins threw a single touchdown pass to Adam Thielen on a 13-yard bullet up the seam but did not have a single pass go for more than 20 yards. He chipped in his own 7-yard touchdown run off the edge and attempted to get the crowd fired up with a very poor end zone celebration. Cousins also had one of his own passes batted down into his arms and was tackled for a loss. It is rare that you see a quarterback with a reception and he would have been better off just letting the ball hit the ground. Cousins has been masterful with the ball when the run game could not be found and then floundered a bit when they actually showed up. He still completed 70% of his passes this week and continues to be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. The Jets offense is clicking right now, and Cousins is going to have to put up some points next week to continue the Vikings winning streak.

RB Latavius Murray, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 155 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
The run game has left something to be desired for the Vikings all season long. They have relied on Kirk Cousins' arm and have not committed to the run at all. That all changed this week when the Vikings got to race the worst rushing defense in the league. Murray was given the start when Cook was ruled out before game time, and then he was actually given the ball. He received 24 carries and 2 targets in the passing game this week and produced his best yardage total as a Viking. He ripped off a long run of 34 yards off tackle and scored the first touchdown of the game running for 21 yards straight up the middle. The talk all week long was that Murray and Cook would split reps this week, but it instead turned into the Latavius Murray show. The Vikings rushed 32 times as a team for 195 yards, both season highs. Murray has proven that he can be an effective back, even behind a banged up offensive line. It will be interesting to see what the Vikings decide to do with the workload next week against the Jets.

RB Dalvin Cook
After practicing all week and many reports indicating that he would play about half of the teams snaps this week, Cook was a last-minute scratch. There was no last-minute injury and he is simply dealing with the same injured hamstring that has kept him out earlier in the season. The Vikings plan to manage their young running back's workload and ensure that he is 100% healthy before he retakes the field.

WR Adam Thielen, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 123 - 1 (15 targets)
After setting a record with 5 straight games of 100 or more receiving yards to open a season last week, Thielen extended it this week against the Cardinals. The talk all week long was about who Patrick Peterson was going to cover and if the opposite receiver would be able to step up and make plays. Peterson shadowed Diggs for the majority of the game and that left Thielen to run free underneath. He used the Cardinals own defenders to set picks for him on crossing routes and made hard cuts towards the sidelines on out routes. His longest play of the day was only 17 yards, but he managed to snare 11 of his team high 15 targets. He never really broke free on any long catch and run plays like he has in the past, but he did find the end zone for the third straight week. Cousins found Thielen across the middle for 13 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. The Vikings lined up in an empty set on 3rd and 1 and Thielen squeezed his way up the seam for the touchdown. He ended up with a linebacker in coverage and that is a battle he will almost always win. It has been a great run thus far for Thielen and he will look to continue it next week against the Jets.

WR Stefon Diggs, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (5 targets)
This week was all about Thielen and it came at the expense of Diggs and the rest of the receiving core. Diggs received a third of the targets that Thielen did (5 to 15) and never really got a chance to get going. He had the tough task of going up against Patrick Peterson and that had a lot to do with his quiet day. His longest reception was 16 yards and that accounted for almost half of his total for the game. Diggs was also given a single carry on an end around that he took for 9 yards. It was a little surprising that they did not give him the ball again, but Latavius Murray was having so much success between the tackles that they did not feel the need to. Diggs will look to get back on track next week against the Jets.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (4 targets)
Just like Diggs, Rudolph was a mere afterthought in the offense this week. He managed to snag 4 targets this week and had a long catch of 17 yards but was still overshadowed by Thielen. The Cardinals made no effort to adjust their game plan and let Thielen run free underneath. They stuck with Rudolph in coverage and often times put a bigger and more physical corner or safety on him. Rudolph excels when there is a linebacker in coverage and he simply did not get that opportunity this week. The Jets have only given up 3 touchdowns to tight ends all season long and aside from their game against the Colts this week have been very solid all around against the position. It will be a difficult task for Rudolph next week, but he may see some things open up if teams focus on Thielen more.